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The slow cooker chef: Vegetarian Comfort Pie recipe

vegetarian comfort pieLast week was wet and cold and gloomy. I fancied some winterish flavours and felt inspired to try my hand at creating a new vegetarian dish. I wanted to make something that would avoid the palaver of many veggie dishes. A dish that I could leave bubbling in the slow cooker for hours, that didn’t need loads of preparation, required no frying off and wasn’t packed with tomatoes, chilli, cheeses and sweet peppers.

I wanted the subtleness of deep English wintery flavours. A vegetarian dish that I could imagine being served in an individual pie dish at traditional English restaurants such as Rules or Simpsons in the Strand.

“Why not make the filling in the slow cooker? It would be low fat.”
Suggested Danny as he eased the butter across his morning toast. Lavish scrapings in the morning require moderate fat in the evening. It’s a balance after all.

We have enjoyed Delia’s Vegetarian Shepherds Pie for months now, cooking it in large batches and freezing the filling in portions. I love the way she uses fresh sliced tomatoes between the bean and vegetable mixture and the mashed potato topping. But the dish is a palaver to make, and I find myself hanging about in the kitchen for hours.

Using Delia’s recipe as a starting off point, mainly for the balance of beans and pluses to root vegetables, I felt sure that the slow cooker (crock pot) could save on my time. And it did. With a slow cooker, or in the slow oven of the Aga, the filling for this pie is a doddle to make. The slow cooking also enhances the flavours.

The beauty of this recipe is that everything, apart from the mushrooms are tossed into the pot at the same time. No need to fry the onions or vegetables. So the filling is quick to prepare and virtually fat free.

We tried the pie with various fresh vegetable toppings, under the mash. Thinly sliced courgettes, fresh spinach and tomatoes. The spinach and tomato combination was the clear winner. So in the end tomatoes were included!

We make our mash using a potato ricer. A great investment as it makes lump free mashed potatoes effortlessly. I stirred in a heaped tablespoonful of English Goat’s yoghurt (the 0% fat Greek version just doesn’t work) and a dash of rape seed oil and lashings of ground white pepper. I finished it all off with a large handful of Cheddar cheese. Perfect.

Vegetarian Comfort Pie recipe for 4 hungry people

Ingredients:

  • 1 clove of garlic chopped fine
  • 60g chopped onion
  • 110g of flageolet beans (soaked for ten hours)
  • 25g of big green lentils
  • 75g of green split peas
  • 75g of small brown lentils
  • 600-750ml of hot vegetable stock (I used 2 tsp of vegetable stock powder)
  • quarter tsp blade mace (chopped fine)
  • 1 tsp of vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dessertspoon of dried mushrooms (chopped fine and soaked for 5 minutes in a little boiling water. Soaking water retained)
  • 1 tbsp of mushroom ketchup
  • 100g of peeled chopped carrots
  • 100g of peeled chopped celeriac.
    125g finely sliced mushrooms (added for the last half hour)
  • quarter tsp of smoked paprika
  • quarter tsp of cayenne pepper
  • Large handful of chopped parsley
  • 1 dessertspoon of chopped chives
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Fresh vegetable topping:

  • 100g of fresh baby spinach leaves (washed)
  • 125g of thinly sliced tomatoes (no need to skin)
  • 600g of potatoes, mashed with a heaped tablespoon of goats yoghurt, a good dash of rape seed oil and lashings of ground white pepper. Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Having soaked your beans for ten hours, bring the flageolet beans to the boil (fresh water) and simmer briskly for ten minutes.
  2. Add beans, pulses and vegetables to the slow cooker.
  3. Add the chopped onion, carrot and celeriac.
  4. Add the dried mushrooms, their water and the mushroom ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.
  5. Add the hot vegetable stock and either set the dial to auto or to high for a few minutes until the stock begins to bubble. Switch the dial to low and leave for 4-5 hours until the beans are soft.
  6. Add the sliced fresh mushrooms for the last half an hour or so, with the smoked paprika and cayenne pepper.
  7. when the filling is cooked add salt and ground black pepper to taste and stir in a large handful of finely chopped parsley (at least 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley).
  8. Put the mixture into a pie dish and top with the chopped chives. Add the layer of spinach leaves and then the sliced tomatoes. Finish with the layer of mashed potato and a good handful of grated cheddar cheese.
  9. Bake in the oven for 30 mins at 190c (170c fan) until the top is golden brown.

reheated from cold the dish will need about 40-45 minutes.


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15 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Kathy

    Let the pie contents cool completely before you divide them up to freeze them. I generally allow a ladle and a half for each person. This means that there is always a bit left over for seconds.

  2. Please could you tell me at what point you would freeze portions of this? ie cook and then take some of the cooked filling and freeze it.

    Thank you

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Suzanne

    I’m not sure whether the tomato tartines would freeze – youd have to experiment. I think that they might go a bit mushy. They are really tasty and I’m sure that they’d sell well.

    Best of luck with the sandwich business. I’d love to hear how you get on. I’m going to be making different types of double tartines in the future, they’re just so scrummy.

  4. suzanne

    Just wanted to say, love the site. It feels warm and friendly. I came upon it looking for a chutney recipe as I am taking over a sandwich business shortly and want to be able to offer something a little different and original.Will be trying out some of your recipes. Particularly like the sound of the rustic tomato tartines. Would they freeze do you think?

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Claire

    Hope that you enjoy the recipe!

    Hello Natasha

    Great that you are reading the blog regularly. I’m flattered!

    Hello Moonroot

    I enjoy eating more than cooking! That’s the secret, I think.

    Hi Gillie

    Racy advice re the wine – I’d be permanently plastered!

    Yes slow food can taste so good.

    Hi Pat

    I must try corn bread, it sounds so comforting ditto the lentil stew. Thanks for the nudge.

  6. Oh that sounds really delicious Fiona!!! I felt the same as you the past few days here and made a lentil stew and some corn bread here.

  7. gillie

    Slow food is good food! Unfortunately our aga is turned off for the summer but I am a firm believer in pot/food/aga cooking …. take what you have; put it in the pot; put it in the aga and enjoy a good bottle of wine. When the wine is gone the food is done!

  8. moonroot

    Sounds delicious, I shall be giving it a try! Even though I don’t usually enjoy cooking very much, somehow your recipes keep tempting me back into the kitchen. Keep up the good work!

  9. Natasha

    Sounds delish! Real homey-food.

    I hope you know I am addicted to this site now and check it daily! Arrrggghhhh!!!

  10. Claire

    Yes, yes!! On the list.

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