I am a pot pie lover. I suppose my earliest memory of pot pies were the ones in little aluminum pans made by Swansons-what a treat they were! Fast forward many years to my dinner delivery business where we sold individual chicken pot pies ready to pop in the oven for one very easy dinner. These were a favorite of our customers and I’ve continued with that same recipe over the years, although I’ve changed the topping to my go to pie crust recipe.
I’ve made vegetarian pot pies before filling them with cauliflower, mushrooms, broccoli and carrots. This version may look like a lot of ingredients and a fair amount of chopping, but it is well worth the effort. I am a fan of all these cool weather veggies, especially celery root and the fresh thyme and sage lend a subtle earthy flavor to the creamy sauce.
As for the topping, you certainly could go the easy route and go with purchased puff pastry, but if you have the time definitely bake the biscuits. As you can see I made more than a few and didn’t have enough sage left to top each biscuit with a sage leaf. They were delicious nonetheless and I can see myself making these throughout the winter months.
Vegetable Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits
1 pound parsnips, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
1/2 pound pearl onions, peeled and halved (see Note)
1 medium head of cauliflower (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch florets
1 large celery root (1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
20 sage leaves, plus 1 teaspoon chopped sage
6 thyme sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
5 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Unbaked Sweet Potato Biscuits
1 large egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large roasting pan, toss the parsnips, brussels sprouts, pearl onions, cauliflower and celery root with the olive oil. Add 6 of the sage leaves and 4 of the thyme sprigs and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned in spots. Discard the sage leaves and thyme sprigs. Lower the oven temperature to 375°.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the milk with the chopped onion, parsley, 6 of the sage leaves and the remaining 2 thyme sprigs and bring to a simmer. Cover and let stand off the heat for 15 minutes. Strain the milk; rinse out the saucepan.
Melt the butter in the saucepan. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, whisking, until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the strained milk to the saucepan, reduce the heat to low and whisk occasionally until very thick, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the chopped sage and thyme and the heavy cream and season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper. Fold the sauce into the roasted vegetables.
Spoon the vegetable mixture into eight large, 4-inch-wide ramekins and top with the unbaked Sweet Potato Biscuits. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the beaten egg and press the 8 remaining sage leaves onto the biscuits. Bake the potpies in the center of the oven for about 15 minutes until the biscuits are golden and risen and the filling is bubbling. Let the potpies cool slightly, then serve.
Sweet Potato Biscuits (makes 8)
1 medium-small sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 ¾ cups regular flour
1 Tbs. brown sugar
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
7 Tbs. cold regular butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
In a pot, cover the sweet potato with water, bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain the potato well, then smash it up with a fork. Reserve ¾ cup of it and let it cool (you can use the rest of it for something else, for example eating it for a snack as you cook).
In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt. Rub the butter into the flour mixture until it looks like a coarse sand. Alternatively you can just pulse all these ingredients together in a food processor. Stir in the buttermilk and ¾ cup sweet potato mash until all the ingredients are just combined. Scoop the dough out into a ball, and knead it a couple of times on a well floured surface.
Then, roll it to about ¼ inch thick and cut it into 8 biscuits – you can make squares or use a 4 inch circle cutter. Put the unbaked biscuits on top of your pot pies before baking. Or, if you just want biscuits, bake them in a 425F oven for 15 minutes, until golden.