Anna Jones' Vegetarian Pie
The centerpiece for any Christmas table
The winter-herb-spiked pastry hugs the carefully favoured and
individually celebrated layers of winter veg, while a grating of crumbly
Lancashire cheese ties them together. A show-stopping pie that tastes even
better than it looks.
"This goodwill pie requires a bit of time and love – it’s something I make
for high days and holidays and it’s almost always the centrepiece of
our Christmas dinner. There may seem a lot to do, but everything can
happen at once – all the roasting can be done while you get on with
the leeks and greens.
The pastry is made with a little butter and a good bit of cold water, so it’s
light and crispy. If you are really short of time, a good-quality shop-bought
shortcrust could stand in here.
I often make this for my vegan brother and sister. I use vegetable shortening
or coconut oil instead of butter, and omit the cheese. The pastry uses baking
powder so you don’t need an egg. You can use soya milk to brush the pastry."
- 200g Lancashire cheese
- 1 organic or free-range egg, beaten, or soya milk for brushing
For the pastry
- 600g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- a small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked and very finely chopped
- 200g butter or vegetable shortening
- up to 250ml ice-cold water
For the sweet potatoes
- 3 sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
- a little butter or olive oil a good few gratings of fresh nutmeg
For the beets
- 5 medium beetroots, peeled and cut into rough cubes
- olive oil
- a splash of red wine vinegar
- 2 sprigs of fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves picked
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the parsnips
- 4 parsnips, peeled and cut into little fingers
- a couple of sprigs of fresh sage, leaves picked
- zest of 1 unwaxed orange
- 1 tablespoon honey
For the leeks
- 25g butter or olive oil
- 2 good-sized leeks, washed, trimmed and sliced
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme,leaves picked
For the greens
- 2 heads of winter greens, stalks removed, roughly shredded
- grated zest and juice of ½ an unwaxed lemon
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
First make the pastry. Sift the four, salt and baking powder into a bowl
and add the chopped thyme. Cut the butter or shortening into small bits
and rub these into the dry ingredients until you have a breadcrumb-like
mix. Add the water and knead to a smooth dough, but don’t overwork it.
You could also use a food processor: pulse to breadcrumbs, then add the
water and pulse until it just comes together. Wrap the pastry in clingflm
and chill while you get on with everything else.
Now get your veg on the go – all of this can happen at once. Preheat the oven
to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7.
Roast the sweet potatoes for 1 hour until soft. Meanwhile, prepare the beets
Pop the beets into a roasting tin, with a splash of olive oil and the
vinegar, add the marjoram or oregano, and season. Cover with foil and
roast alongside the sweet potatoes for 1 hour, removing the foil for the
last 15 minutes.
Put the parsnips into a roasting dish with the sage, orange zest, honey
and a drizzle of olive oil, mix to coat, then cover with foil. Roast with
the other veg for 45 minutes, until golden, removing the foil for the last
5–10 minutes. When all the veg are cooked, remove from the oven and
turn the temperature down to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6.
Meanwhile, cook the leeks. Heat the butter or oil in a large non-stick
frying pan. Add the leeks and thyme and cook over a low heat for
20 minutes, until sweet and softened, then set aside.
Add a little more olive oil to the pan, add the greens and cook over
a low heat for a few minutes, until just wilted. Season, then add the
lemon zest and chilli. Set aside.
Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the
fesh and mash with a knob of butter or 1 tablespoon of olive oil and
a good grating of nutmeg. Adjust the seasoning for all the vegetable
mixtures, if needed.
Take your pastry from the fridge and let it sit for a few minutes.
Then roll it out on a lightly foured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin
and use it to line a 20cm springform cake tin, leaving the excess hanging
over the edges.
Now it’s time to start layering the pie. Start with all the leeks, then
a grating of Lancashire cheese, then the beets, the greens, and another
layer of cheese, then the parsnips and fnally the sweet potato mash.
Finish by bringing the excess pastry over the top of the mash, twisting the
ends and laying them on the mash in a haphazard fashion – the little rough
bits of pastry will crisp up and look beautiful. The pastry may not cover
the whole of the top, but a little vivid orange sweet potato poking through
is ok. Brush with the beaten egg or some soya milk.
Bake the pie at the bottom of the oven for 35–40 minutes, until golden
brown. Leave to cool for 15–20 minutes, then remove from the cake
tin and place in the middle of the table. Serve with lashings of gravy.
Recipe taken from Anna Jones' book 'A modern way to cook.' Anna is one of our ambassadors.