Cauliflower Pot Pie

What's more comforting than a southern style pot pie? A flaky pie crust filled with vegetables and a creamy beshchamel sauce is a great dinner year round.  But make it with a cauliflower pie crust and add carrots, leeks, celery, and cremini mushrooms, and cheddar cheese, and suddenly, things get extra special.

Homemade pie crust does, by nature of the word homemade, require more effort than pre-brought varieties. But homemade goods bring advantages, from controlling what ingredients are used to ensuring the proper freshness. Think about it: you buy a pie crust that is good for a month past the date you purchased it. How fresh is it really? If you want your baked goods to taste as good as they possibly can, you need the right supplies.

I've had my fun with baking pot pie, with pretty fantastic Chicken Pot Pie and Salmon Pot Pie experiences. But, those were not made with from-scratch dough! It was time for something new. New goodies in the kitchen make me a happy gal.

Ok! So you start out with a head of cauliflower. I used about half of a large head of cauliflower, cutting the florets off in chunks.

Just as I had for Cauliflower Pizza Crust, I tossed the florets into my food processor. The goal was to create finely chopped cauliflower bits so that it could be blended into a dough.

It only took a minute or so to wind up with the right consistency. Also as I had done with the pizza crust, I steamed the cauliflower and then drained the liquid out with a cheesecloth. I did not want a soggy crust.

I started out the dough just like a regular pie crust (my very first recipe post was on this very topic). First, I dumped the flour onto a pastry board, then I put chunks of butter right on top of it. True story, I once did a training presentation on how to make pie crust, and used post-its as pieces of butter. Now, I scaled back on the flour in this version by 1/4 cup as I knew the cauliflower would be added.

I typically use a food scoop for this next part, a kitchen tool I find invaluable. It's essentially a piece of flat metal or plastic with a handle, usually about 6"x4" or so. It's handy for scooping up chopped vegetables or making a straight line cut. During this bake time, my scoop wasn't handy, so I used a similar tool made of plastic. I'm going to explain the steps in a different way than typical to make it easier to understand.

At this point you have a pile of flour and a bunch of butter sitting on it, as pictured above. What you want to end up with is a sandy mixture of butter and flour. To get there, you use the scoop in your dominant hand and keep your other hand free. Scoop some flour over the top of the pats of butter (so they are lightly coated on the top), then press into the mound with the palm of your hand. Repeat the scooping, taking another bit flour and putting in on top, then pressing into it again. The idea is smash the butter chunks into bits and coat them all in flour.

You repeat this several times until you have what is pictured below. It's not a smooth mixture like the butter and sugar beginning of cookies, but instead a dry, yet still fairly consistent mixture.

At this point, you create a well in the center of the pile, then pour in the water. It's similar to homemade pasta. You use your hands to knead the water into the butter and flour mixture, forming it into a moist ball of, well, pie dough. Then, add that chopped cauliflower you may have forgotten about and knead it in until it's spread throughout. That easy. At this point, the dough needs to rest. The flour needs to really absorb that moisture and become elastic. So, you cover it with plastic and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

After resting, it's time to get the pie crust going. I divided the dough in half, then rolled it into a rectangular shape. I wanted to get some air bubbles in the dough, so I made a long rectangle and then folded a third of it in. I rolled it out again, then rotated the dough 90 degrees and repeated. I did this about 3 times to get air bubbles throughout the dough. Air bubbles = flaky crust.

From the side, you can see some of those bubbles I was talking about, and the small chunks of cauliflower. I wrapped the dough up one more time and let it rest for another 30 minutes. I then laid out the dough, rolled it thin using the guide on my pastry mat for sizing, and cut a large circle that is slightly larger than the pie dish.

Well, we've got the dough down. How about our filling? Mushrooms, onion, leeks, celery, and a carrot should do the trick. Ok, and some garlic and sweet peppers that didn't make the pic.

I added some avocado oil to my skillet and sauteed some onion and garlic until the garlic became fragrant and the onions slightly translucent. This took 2-3 minutes on medium heat.

In the meantime, I got all my other vegetables chopped into small bits. I wanted bite size pieces - appropriately sized to fit on a fork while requiring no cutting by the taster. Size matters. I added some water to the pan and let it simmer for 15 minutes to soften the vegetables. Though they'd be baking in the oven, I wanted to give the cooking a head start.

After simmering and letting some of the water steam off, it was time for my beschamel sauce. I whisked some flour into milk and poured it in to thicken the base. Note that here I used the vegetable broth I created in the boiling process rather than adding chicken bouillon. No extra salt! I also mixed in some paprika, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. Did I mention cheese? Shredded cheddar took this one to the next level.

Ok! We are getting close! Back to the crust. I decided to use a cast iron skillet because, well, cast iron skillets are awesome. I laid the bottom crust in after spreading some vegetable shortening in the bottom of the pan, poured in the filling, then topped it with another layer of crust. To prevent an air bubble, I poked some holes in the bottom with a fork. You don't want a deformed pie. I spread some egg wash on the crust to help keep it moist and get it a nice, golden brown.

I let it bake for about 30 minutes, just enough time to cook the crust and finish off the vegetables.

And at last, the fully cooked pie is ready for demolition. I let it rest about 10 minutes so that the sauce wouldn't just dump out everywhere. But ok, we've all had pot pie before. We know it's awesome. But the crust...the consistency was spot on. Not too dry, not overly damp. And the flavor, being partially veggie itself, was an ideal mate for the filling. I would NOT use this for a dessert, but for a quiche or vegetable pie, this is a great way to sneak in some extra veggies. If you are going to make homemade crust anyway, which already requires a good amount of work, why not add something extra?

Cauliflower Pot Pie Recipe

For the pie crust:
2 cups flour
1 cup butter
1/4 cup water
chop butter into flour, pressing in with palm of hand and scraping flour over the pile with pastry scraper
continue until
1/2 cup grated cauliflower, steamed and drained

For the filling:
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1/2 onion. finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot
1 stick celery
1 leek
1 cup cremini mushrooms
2 mini sweet peppers
1 1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup flour
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1 egg


Add garlic and onion to a heated pan with 2 tablespoons avocado oil. Saute on medium heat until onions are translucent. Chop carrots, leeks, celery, mushrooms, and sweet peppers into bits, then add it to the pan. Stir in the water and simmer on medium heat for

For the pie crust:

Cut florets off of approximately half of a large head of cauliflower and add to a food processor or blender. Pulse until the cauliflower is finely grated, to the consistency of rice. Add to a bowl, cover with plastic, and steam in the microwave for 4 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Dump flour onto counter or pastry board. Cut all the butter into 2-3 inch size chunks and lay all the pieces on top of your pile of flour. Coat all sides of the butter with flour. Push the butter into the flour with the base of your palm. Use a pastry scraper to scrape up some of the flour and butter and flip it over the pile. Keep pressing and scraping until the butter becomes thin flakes pressed into the flour. Work until you see more butter flakes than loose flour. If your butter flakes are too big, break them up; you should end up with a combination of big flakes and some crumbs. Make a bowl shape in the center of the pile and pour the water into it. Use your finger tips to gently blend and distribute the water evenly throughout the dough. Then, scrape up the dough again with the pastry scraper and fold it again over itself a few times until you have a somewhat cohesive lump of dough. Knead in the cauliflower until fully combined. Gather it into a ball, wrap tightly with plastic, and let rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes (or until cold). Remove the dough from the fridge, unwrap, and place on floured surface. Flour the top of the dough as well. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to an elongated rectangle. Use a pastry brush and sweep off the excess flour from the top of the dough. Then pick up one end of the rectangle and fold it 2/3 of the way in. Brush the flour off the top, then pick up the other end and fold it over that section. The dough will crack and might even break, and that's ok. Sprinkle more flour over the dough, then turn the folded dough 90 degrees so that the seams are on the sides, roll the dough out into a rectangle, and repeat the brushing and folding process again. The dough will become smoother and more flexible. Repeat this process once or twice more – if the dough seems very soft and gets a little oily, wrap it up with plastic and refrigerate until cold before rolling it out again. Roll the dough out one last time to a smaller rectangle, then cut in half and form each piece of dough into a circle shape. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before you rolling out into pie crust. Roll each round into a circle that is 2-3″ larger than your pie plate and brush with some egg wash.

For the filling:

Add the avocado oil, garlic, and onion to a pan and cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Cut the mushrooms, carrots, peppers, leek, and celery into small pieces. and add to the pan. Stir in water and let the mixture cook for about 15 minutes, allowing the vegetables to soften slightly. In a separate bowl, whisk the flower into the milk and slowly pour into the vegetable mixture. Add the paprika, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper to the pan, then stir in the cheese. At this point, it's a good idea to preheat the oven tot 375 degrees F.

To complete the pie, spread some shortening in a cast iron skillet or pie dish. Lay the first layer of pie crust in the bottom of the pan and use a fork to poke some holes in it. Pour in the filling, then lay the top layer of crust over it. Trim the excess crust off the sides and press the top and bottom layers together to seal it all. Finally, brush some egg wash over the top to give it a nice golden brown color in the oven, and bake for 25 minutes. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Pin It button on image hover