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Starting 2010 with Vegetarian Pot Pie

No need to tell most of you just how cold it is outside. Normally, we do get a bit of a freeze here in the city at some point during the winter months, but this is a pretty long stretch of unending Arctic air for us. We’ve also seen more snow than in recent years.

The frigid weather has had a direct impact on my motivation to do pretty much anything. Unfortunately, this also includes things like heading out of my apartment to do food shopping. In support of the merchants who stand outside at their tables at the Greenmarket in all sorts of temperatures hot and cold, I pulled myself off of the sofa yesterday, and made the trip down to Union Square.

That was, however, after having binged on a combination of Food Network shows. These are the guilty pleasures I will not be giving up in 2010. I made it through “Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger,” “Tyler’s Ultimate,” and “Ask Aida.” By the end of it, I was thoroughly inspired to get some goodies with which to cook up some great weekend meals.

Like many folks, I’ve put together some new goals for 2010. This year, I didn’t publish them on the blog. [Getting over my laziness really has to be one of the things I accomplish this year.] One of them is to try to be better about eating vegetables. I know that they are good for me, but sometimes I just can’t get to them.

The truth is, I didn’t like many of them growing up. We also didn’t get to eat them fresh or in season, at least not until I was almost pre-teen, and then the range was still limited. I also get bored with the same old thing. I can binge on asparagus in the springtime, as the season is so short, and I can get excited about late summer tomatoes, which are so flavorful and unlike the stuff in the stores now. This time of year, however, is a sea of endless, pale root vegetables.

So, when Aida pulled together her Vegetarian Pot Pie, I paid attention. Really, how bad can something be that is rich and creamy topped with puff pastry? Chicken pot pie is one of those recipes I’ve made a few times, and which was a special treat growing up, but isn’t something that I have on the annual rotation. I’m not sure why, as it freezes well, and, in the right container, would be a good thing to bring for lunch.*

Fortunately, the ingredients were mostly available at the Greenmarket, so it made me feel very good, and a little bit virtuous, that I did make it out of the apartment and downtown. The few things that I couldn’t find, I managed to pick up at the stores in my neighborhood. As you can see from the photos, the dish was everything it promised: warm, gooey, comforting. I didn’t miss the chicken at all.**

Most of the work is in chopping up everything

(try to keep all the veggies about the same size to help them cook uniformly)

Double, double toil & trouble… wait, wrong thing

(yes, my sister, you can omit the peas)

In the oven. Please heed the tip about putting this on a lined baking sheet.

The finished result. Golden and bubbling.

On the plate. Sorry the lighting isn’t better, but it was really good.

Kitchen Witch Tips:

*Although the recipe calls for this to be made in an 8×8″ pan, I might make it in a larger one next time to increase the puff pastry-to-veggies ratio. Alternatively, this could easily be made in individual dishes. The cooking time might be different in that case.

**If you wanted to turn this into a traditional Chicken Pot Pie, poach chicken parts or buy a cooked chicken. Shred the meat (if cooking yourself, save the liquid to add to the veggies). Add chicken stock instead of mushroom stock at that point in the recipe. Put the chicken into the veggies at the end, when adding the herbs. Top with the puff pastry and bake as before.

Buon appetito!

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