Sometimes, Chicago is graced with 19+ inches of snow in a single day. Sometimes, lots of other things happen in a single day and you get overwhelmed and need a day. And sometimes, that happens when your person has a day off. That was yesterday. Sweatpants, endless coffee and tea, puppy cuddles, and our never ending marathon of Alton Brown’s Good Eats — my absolute favorite cooking show. There’s a reason our fish is named after him.
We’re sitting around watching an episode about savory pies. And he starts talking about Chicken Pot Pie. I’m suddenly transported back to my childhood when I would come home from school to find out the freezer version would be served for dinner that night. And I got unnecessarily excited. That stuff was GOOD! But loaded with sodium and not very actually good for you.
Now the problem with vegans watching cooking shows is that more often than not, all recipes contain dairy, eggs, and meat. And that’s not good eats (see what I did there?!) in our kitchen. But this was a pretty simple adjustment, particularly with a premade pie crust hanging out in the fridge. And thus, the ultimate in comfort food came out of the kitchen.
You will need:
- 1/2 of a yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 block soft or firm tofu, cubed (not silken!)
- 1 cup frozen veggie mix
- 2 tbsp + 1 tbsp of butter (keep them separated)
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 cups veggie stock (low sodium)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- Ground celery seed
- 1 premade rolled pie crust
- Herbs & spices: garlic powder, paprika, parsley flakes, salt, pepper
Preheat your oven to 425*F. In a skillet, melt the 2 tbsp butter over med-med low heat. Once melted, drop in your onions and season with your preferred amounts of the herbs and spices above. Let these go for a while. Make them brown. Don’t get impatient. Brown is important.
I’m interrupting this recipe for a small rant about brown food. It tastes good. No doubt about it. If you start your soupy foods with a good base of brown food, you’re going to have deliciousness previously unrivaled in your kitchen. Trust me when I say your patience waiting for brown food will be rewarded. I’m going to let Anne Burrell share how I feel about brown food in this link (You only need to watch for a few seconds. You’ll get the idea). It’s better to cook your onions for closer to 10 or 15 minutes and have a nice color on them than go for 5 and not have as good of a flavor base.
End rant. Onto the tofu! Scoot your onions over to one side of your pan and scrape your tofu into the rest. Sprinkle with more seasoning and cook the tofu. This should take around 5 minutes to get some color, a little bit of crust, and a lot of delicious. All together now, “brown food tastes good!”
Start with your frozen mix. Sprinkle that on the top of the tofu and onions for a few minutes. Let the steam start to defrost them. Otherwise they’ll take the temp of the pan down too far and that is not good eats.
Once they’ve steamed a bit, go ahead and mix them in and continue to sauté to achieve — you guessed it — brown!
Now go ahead and make a hole in the middle of your mess of delicious. Just scoot the veggies and tofu to the sides and form a nice little landing pad for that last tablespoon of butter. On the circle of delicious, sprinkle the tablespoon of flour. Once the butter has melted, mix everything back together. This is a roux of sorts that will create that wonderful thick sauce. Because you’re doing it in the pan with the veggies, you’re basing your sauce in that wonderfully amazing brown food.
Stir this around and let the flour cook for a bit. While cooking happens, mix your veggie stock and milk. Pour that mixture on top of the veggies and tofu, and stir.
I know, I know. It looks like soup, not like pot pie filling. Work with me here.
This is where I added the celery seed. Normally, I would reate the base of this with carrot, onion, and celery but I’m working with what I had in my kitchen. Celery seed will bring in that bit of flavor. Increase your fire to medium/medium high and bring this to a boil. Keep stirring occasionally. Once you achieve bubbles, stir constantly for a minute or two, then drop the heat to a simmer and walk away for 4-5 minutes. This gives the flavors a chance to meld and marry. More flavor.
While your filling is thickening, go ahead and grab a circular baking dish. You’re looking for anything but metal here. Spray that baby down with some cooking spray. Prep your pie crust as well. Unroll, unfold, whatever it may be.
When you have achieved desired sauce thickness (remember, it will continue cooking in the oven), remove form the heat and pour into your dish.
Top with your pie crust. With a paring knife, cut a few slits for venting purposes (unless you like cleaning up exploded pot pie from your oven. Then don’t), give the top a spritz of cooking spray, and insert into oven. Walk away for 15 minutes and let the magic happen.
Let it sit for 5 minutes to give the filling one last chance to set up before serving. My favorite serving method is family style.
Comfort food, delicious, and vegan. Nom nom nom.