Who said that vegetarian food couldn’t be indulgent? It just so happens that many vegetarians choose to prepare and eat healthier options. That’s not so say there aren’t gluttonous opportunities out there. These pies are one of them. You’ve a few key staples of French cooking – wine, cream and rich, buttery pastry. With those three under your belt you really can’t go wrong, unless you decide to throw in some tripe or a pair of smelly old boots (both of which are actually quite comparable). Then you’re quite on your own.
A long, loooonnnnnng time ago these were Chicken and Vegetable Puff Pastry Parcels. Somehow along the way they’ve morphed into Creamy Cannellini Bean and Vegetable Pies. I can’t help myself. Fortunately in this case the tweaks drastic alterations have paid off. Would you believe it if I said that the vegetarian version is far more scrum-diddly-umptious than the original chicken one? And wait for it…healthier too? Now we’re really onto something – indulgent and healthy. Ish. It’s all relative, right?
I’m not a big pie/pasty/anything-wrapped-in-pastry maker. Don’t get me wrong, I’d happily spend six or seven hours whacking together a batch of home-made puff pastry. But that’s the catch. Once you’ve made your own pastry it’s darn hard to go back to the supermarket stuff. Consequently we rarely eat pastry-based products, unless I have the time to make my own. However, this time around using the shop-bought pastry was a requirement. Moving house (three days and I have exactly one box packed. one.) means a freezer clear-out. Beneath the mountains of muffins, cakes and cookies I discovered half a packet of shortcrust pastry and a bag of peas and corn just waiting to be used. It was time to bite the bullet and make these Creamy Cannellini Bean and Vegetable Pies. With shop bought pastry. Dear god.
The thing is, not only was I able to begin clearing a path through our freezer, the supermarket pastry worked absolutely fine. Maybe even better than fine. I might even use it in these pies again. After all it’s about time I got over my pastry-snob tendencies. But I digress. To get to the crux of it – make your own pastry if you have the time, however using store-bought is a-okay too. In terms of the size of pie, that’s entirely up to you. I made four in 10cm diameter dishes and then two smaller ones in muffin tins. Just follow your instincts!
Lastly, no-one likes a soggy bottom. Especially in pies. To avoid this, it’s important to prepare the pie filling earlier in the day (or even the night before) and let it cool completely before rolling out the pastry and popping in the filling. It may seem time consuming but it actually breaks up the process and makes it far less overwhelming. Let me assure you, it’ll be worth it when your fork sinks into the crisp buttery pastry, allowing the rich creamy filling to ooze out…..
Creamy Cannellini Bean and Vegetable Pies
Makes 4 to 5 pies (10cm diameter)
1 small carrot, chopped into 1cm dice
100g pumpkin, peeled, de-seeded and chopped into 1cm dice
50g orange sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1cm dice
80g frozen peas and corn
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 small leek (roughly 80g), white part only, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 heaped tsp flour
40ml white wine
80ml single cream
125ml vegetable stock
2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
100g cannellini beans (about ½ can), drained and rinsed
Freshly ground black pepper
2-3 sheets (about 500g) frozen shortcrust pastry (or use homemade!)
1 egg, lightly beaten with a little milk
Bring a small pot of water (preferably with a steamer basket) to the boil. Boil/steam the carrot, pumpkin and sweet potato for 4 minutes. Add the peas and corn and cook for a further 2 minutes or until the veg are just tender. Drain, refresh under cold water and set aside.
Meanwhile, place a frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the sunflower oil and when warm toss in the leeks and garlic. Cook, stirring regularly for about 2 minutes or until softened but not coloured. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour in the white wine and allow it to ‘fizz’, still stirring all the while. After about 30 seconds the wine should appear to disappear and be soaked up by the leeks. Now pour in the cream and vegetable stock and add the thyme. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce thickens.
Remove the frying pan from the heat and transfer the sauce to a large bowl. Season well with salt and pepper. Roughly mash half of the cannellini beans with a fork and stir through the sauce until well combined. Gently stir through the remaining cannellini beans and the cooked vegetables. Set aside until cooled (at least an hour).
Once the mixture has cooled, preheat the oven to 200C. Bring the pastry sheets to room temperature, following the directions on the packet. Grease your chosen pie dishes (I used 4 10cm diameter dishes and 2 muffin holes).
Cut out circles of pastry and press into the pie dishes, ensuring they come all the way up the sides of the dish and a little over the top (you want to make a rim to seal the pies). Use a fork to poke a few holes in the pastry at the bottom of each dish. Distribute the filling between your pastry cases. Now cut out circles for the top of each pie. Carefully place on top of the filling and press the edges into that of the pastry case to form a rim. Crimp with your thumb or the tines of a fork to ensure that the edges are sealed. Use a small knife to cut a slit in the top of each pie to allow steam to escape when cooking. Brush the top of each pie with the beaten egg and milk.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
Set on a wire rack to cool for five minutes before running a spatula around the edges and turning the pies out.
Best served hot. The pies will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. To reheat, pop in a moderate oven for 10-15 minutes or until warmed through.
Source: A Taste Without Waste original.