Four days down in the veg box challenge and we are gradually munching our way through the gorgeous produce that arrived on Wednesday. The squash has all gone, as have the carrots and the cherry tomatoes. There’s still a couple of onions though, most of the leeks and mushrooms, the lettuce, one parsnip and a handful of chard as well as potatoes.
So to Sunday dinner – what to have? There’s plenty of curry leftover from Saturday night, but those big fat juicy leeks are just begging to be eaten, so it just has to be a leek and mushroom pie.
I know some people aren’t keen on pie, especially as a thick layer of butter pastry can result in a serious case of indigestion afterwards. But I’ve always been a fan, and ended up missing out for a while when I first went dairy free. It then got more complicated when I went plant based and then nigh on impossible when I went gluten free. But where there’s a will there’s a way, and a desire for pie can overcome all obstacles!
Ever since grain was milled, people have made some sort of crust to stuff a filling into! First it was more of bread or pancake. Then the Greeks developed pie pastry, and the Romans started documenting pie recipes. Apparently the most popular recipe was called ‘placenta’ – somehow that doesn’t sound too appealing to me……..
Pie has been a feature of British cuisine since Roman times, and take different forms all round the world. We noticed the Aussies are particularly fond of pie when we were over there at Christmas, and I always think of Twin Peaks when anyone has cherry pie!
For a plant based pie filling, in my mind there is no better than a simple leek and mushroom one, especially if they are firm, nutty chestnut mushrooms, which is fortunately what was in the veg box. They go together brilliantly with tarragon and a creamy sauce, making such a delicious filling you might just prefer it to a meat pie!
You may not think of leeks as being particularly special, but being part of the allium family they are packed full of phytonutrients such as flavonoids and polyphenols that help protect and support our blood vessels and help protect against oxidative damage and stress. And mushrooms, although in lesser amounts, have a whole range of vitamins and minerals, particularly selenium, and lots of fibre. On top of that, they produce their own natural antibiotics that can help boost immunity.
I made my own pastry for this pie as I haven’t found a gluten and dairy free alternative in the shops. If you’re ok with shop bought pastry, then go ahead and use it if making it is not your thing – JustRol is dairy free and definitely easy to use. I’ve not included my recipe for gluten free pie pastry here – I’m well chuffed with it though, and will save that for another day.
To make the creamy sauce, I kept it really simple and used some soya cream -it works brilliantly and is no hassle. If you don’t do soya, then there are some other dairy free creams on the market such as oat or rice. You could of course make a white sauce, but I was too busy making rhubarb crumble (dessert is most important!).For a complete Sunday night feast, our pie was accompanied by crushed potatoes (mash with skins on!) and some steamed cabbage, admittedly not from the box, but perfect anyway.
Mighty fine leek and mushroom pie
4 medium leeks, washed and trimmed
150g of chestnut mushrooms (more if you have them)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons tarragon, fresh or dried
1 carton dairy free cream
salt and pepper
1 portion pastry, enough for a double crust
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Slice the leeks and mushrooms, then heat a dash of olive oil in a large pan and sauté the leeks for a few minutes, then adding the mushrooms. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic for a couple more. Pour in the cream, add the tarragon and seasoning and simmer until everything is cooked through. Let it stand for a few moments.
In the meantime, divide your pastry in two and roll out the first half and cover the base of a pie tin or dish. Wet the rim with a little water. Then roll out the second half of the pastry, making it big enough to cover the top. Spoon in the leek mixture, then place the pastry on top, pressing the edges together. Make two small slits in the middle to allow the steam to escape, brush the top with a little water or dairy free milk, place on a baking tray and pop in the oven for approximately 20 minutes until the pastry is firm and light brown (remember you might not get this brown with gluten free pastry). Remove from the oven, let it sit for a couple of minutes then serve and enjoy!