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Veggie & Quinoa Pot Pie

We’re a little bit protein challenged in our house. I’m a vegetarian. Martin is allergic to soy and peanuts. And due to some early sensitivity testing with Miss L, I too am avoiding both soy and peanuts while breastfeeding. At the same time, I’m having trouble getting enough calories (with the exception of cookies) while breastfeeding. So. I’m constantly on the hunt for good protein rich recipes to fill our bellies.

This one is a hybrid of an old pot pie recipe I used to make, with modifications along the way including the addition of quinoa as a base instead of using a full pie shell. It’s pretty tasty, very cozy and not too challenging to make. Like most things I make these days, I always made extra and freeze it.

Veggie & Quinoa Pot Pie

Preheat the oven to 400F and you will need either one large (like deep pie plate sized) or two smaller (6-8″) casserole dishes.

Quinoa
1 cup + 2 cups water

Pastry
1 1/2 cups flour (I use 1 cup regular and 1 cup whole wheat)
1/2 cup butter
pinch of salt
3-4 Tbsp ice water

Pie Filling
2-3 bell peppers (I never use green, but that’s my preference)
2 medium sized potatoes
1 medium sized zucchini
3-4 carrots
1 small head of broccoli chopped small including some stem
about a cup of corn
2 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp fresh thyme (about 6 branches from my somewhat spindly plant)
3 tbsp flour
2 cups milk (or non-dairy milk if you prefer)
salt & plenty of pepper

To begin I start the quinoa going. Cook according to package directions or your preference. If you’ve never cooked it before it’s a lot like cooking rice. You must rinse it will as otherwise it is bitter. Then put it in a pot with the 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn down the heat and let simmer for 20 min or so until all the water is gone.

While that’s cooking I make the pastry. I always do mine in a food processor these days. So I cut my chilled butter into squares. Add it with a pinch of salt and the flour to the processor and pulse until the butter is in small pea sized chunks distributed in the flour. Then let the processor go while you add your 3-4 Tbsp of ice water until the dough just starts to turn into one big clump. Then remove, form into a flatish round and wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

While that’s chilling you can wash, peel and chop your veggies. Now I’ve suggested veggies that were in my produce store at this time of year and in decent shape. You could very easily mix this up to suit your preference and the season. Using mostly root veggies like carrot, parsnips and turnips, with potato would be great, in that case you may want to add a bit of sage to the flavouring. I prefer my veggies all diced fairly small, but if you want things chunkier go for it, you just may need to cook things a bit longer.

Heat some oil or butter in a medium sized pot (big enough to hold all the veggies with spare room) and add your slower cooking veggies to the pot (in this case carrots and potatoes) to the pot with the garlic at a medium heat. Saute for 5 minutes stirring frequently to prevent browning. Then add the other veggies and continue to saute for another 4-5 minutes. At this point things should be softening but not mushy. Now add your thyme (or other herbs). Sprinkle in 3 Tbsp of flour and stir to incorporate it amongst all the veggies in there. Then add the 2 cups of milk about a half cup at a time, stirring all the while to prevent lumps. Now, this is a culinary no no, but I don’t bother to heat the milk and things still work out fine in the thickening department with no lumps. I used to heat the milk, but when you’re on a tight baby distraction schedule it seems like extra work/time/dishes. If you want to be more particular than me, heat your milk first so it is warm. Let the veggies, which are now in a thickening white sauce cook at a low/medium heat for another 10 minutes or so until the potatoes/carrots are more or less cooked. (If you cut your veggies bigger you’ll need to do this for longer). You’ll need to check in and stir here to make sure that things don’t stick/burn. Things should be a bit soupy so that you have extra sauce which will sink into the quinoa base when you assemble thing.

Now take your pastry out of the fridge and roll it out. If making two smaller casseroles, I divide the pastry into two and roll out two smaller rounds.

Assemble your pot pies by lightly buttering your casserole dish(es), put the quinoa in as a base (divide in two if  using two dishes), then add your veggies with the white sauce (again in half if doing two), then put your pastry on top. If you wish you can brush the pastry with milk/egg, that’s mostly a cosmetic touch and with the baby timer ticking down, I also typically don’t bother with that step. Slice a few vents in the pastry top and pop in the oven. If, like me, you just made two casseroles, slide one in a large freezer bag unbaked and freeze now. To cook it later, let the casserole dish itself come to room temperature but don’t defrost it all the way of the pastry will get pasty (the dish however may crack or shatter if it goes into the oven too cold). You’ll need to cook the frozen one for longer, probably 45 minutes. The fresh one you’re making now can cook for 20-25 minutes in a 400F oven.

Tip: Put a cookie sheet under your casserole in the oven or on the rack below as this sometimes bubbles over and makes a mess of your oven.

Serve with a big green salad. Nummy.

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