To be precise: Kale, White Bean, Leek, Carrot and Zucchini Pot Pies!
I’ve been craving Shepard’s Pie since I went to the UK a couple months ago, but since I don’t eat meat, I was out of luck—at least where I was dining. And I’ve been wanting to make chicken-less pot pie, so New Year’s Day, I dug in. And the result? Sensational!
It wasn’t easy, but worth the effort. Which did I like better—pastry or mashed potato topping? Both!! The mashed potato (I used red potatoes with the peel on) is heartier so better on a cold day, but both are splendid.
The beauty with this recipe is options:
- Pie crust or puff pastry (easier!) or mashed potato topping
- Clean the crisper of all your vegies
- Dump in those frozen vegies taking up space
- Be intentional with your favorites (like I did—including two types of kale)
- Pack a protein punch with white beans or lentils
- Pick your favorite spice (I made four versions!)
Chop all your vegies and place each in the ramekins you’ll be using for your pot pies—efficient! When you’re ready to sauté them, they’ll all be handy. Hint on the leeks—use only the white and light green part, cut it length wise and break open to rinse. Dirt loves to hide in leeks.
Hint on the beans: I used one can of Great Northern Beans (GNB) and a third of a can of Cannellini Beans (CB). Both are white beans, but the GNB are smaller and absorb flavor more than the CB, but the two together are nice.
Before you start cooking, I highly suggest you have your vegie broth, butter and flour handy for the gravy. It’s hard to open that box of broth when you’re whisking away—trust me.
Chop your spices and place in individual dishes also. I decided to try different spices since I had thyme and oregano in my garden, and fresh dill in my refrigerator. Dill and oregano are two of my favorite spices to cook with—along with cilantro. I added each of these to the individual pies at the end and marked each with a spring on the crust.
After you mix your cooked vegies and gravy, set it aside and take your puff pastry out of the refrigerator. It should be thawed, but still cold when you roll it out. One puff pastry sheet will fit six ramekins easily when rolled out. Any more, you’ll need a second sheet. Hint: place the ramekins upside down on the pastry, dip your knife in flour, and cut around the edges, giving extra space—about an 1/8”.
This recipe makes eight ramekins, but since I only had six, I used a cute mini loaf pan.
White Bean and Leek Pot Pie with Kale and Zucchini
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil to coat pan
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 leek, white and light green part thinly sliced
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot or four small bite sized, finely chopped
- 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 pinches of kosher or sea salt
- 1 bunch of kale, stems removed, and chopped or torn
- 2 cups white beans, rinsed and washed
- Pepper to taste
- Fresh herb of choice—thyme, oregano or dill (optional but advise), finely chopped
- ½ stick butter (or substitute for vegans)
- 3 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 3 ½ tablespoons flour
- Egg white, whisked (optional for vegans)
- 1 puff pastry sheet (or pie crust or mashed potatoes)
- Coat the bottom of a large cast iron skillet with olive oil and heat over medium flame. Drop in the onions, leek, celery and carrots. Stir until onions are translucent. Then add zucchini and stir another two minutes. Add red pepper flakes, garlic and salt, stir another two minutes. (If you are only adding one herb, you can add now—thyme and oregano together are nice as well.) Finally, add the kale. Don’t panic if the pan is full—a few stirs and the leaves wilt and reduce. When they are a bright green (about a minute or two), empty vegetable mix into a bowl.
- Time for the gravy. Wipe the pan out, leaving whatever wants to stay behind in the pan. Add your butter and melt over low heat, careful not to burn it. Then toss in your flour and begin whisking—don’t stop! Slowly add the broth, whisking all the while—until you’re out of broth. Your gravy should be forming. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil—still whisking, then reduce the flame to a simmer—still whisking. About ten minutes later you can stop whisking as you should have a nice creamy gravy. Turn the flame off.
- Add the rinsed beans to your vegie mix, and then add all to the gravy and stir until well mixed. Add pepper to taste.
- If using pastry or puff pastry, now is the time to roll it out, measure around the ramekins, cutting with a floured knife an extra 1/8” around. (Mashed potatoes can be made now, ahead, or while you are cooking)
- Fill each ramekin to the inner line, leaving about ¼” for the pastry to puff or the mashed potatoes to brim. If adding herbs to make different pies, mix in a pinch of your choice, remembering which was which spiced pie.
- For puff pastry, gently lay it over the top and stretch to edges. For pie crust, flute the edges. Insert knife in center for steam to escape. Place the corresponding herb on top to mark the pies flavor. For mashed potatoes, drop enough dollops to cover the filling completely, sealing the edges with potatoes. Sprinkle the potatoes with garlic or paprika and add your herb indicator.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the pastry/mashed potatoes are golden brown and the pie is bubbling to come out.
To store your yummy pies, wrap in aluminum foil or Tupperware and tuck in the refrigerator for up to three days. You can also store in the freezer—but I’ve not tried it!