Like its traditional meat counterpart, vegan vegetable pot pie is the perfect comfort food. Hearty and healthy, it can be served as a meal or as a side dish. What's more, the vegan version is simple to prepare and improvise with. Even the novice cook can attempt one.
Making It Vegan
When someone says "pot pie," the first association is likely a type of meat pie: chicken, beef, or turkey. Yet vegetable pot pies have become a popular alternative and as with most things vegetarian, cooking creativity has found suitable substitutes for the pie's original "meat" filling.
Meat Substitutes for Pot Pies
For a vegan vegetable pot pie, there can be no trace of animal-derived ingredients. This includes of course the chicken, beef, or turkey that most pot pies feature. In the vegan version, you will want to use meat substitutes such as:
- Seitan: A versatile food made from the gluten of wheat. If your diet can tolerate gluten, seitan provides a good texture for any vegetable mix. For pot pies, use a dice cut.
- Tofu: Firm tofu goes well with most any dish, in particular stir-fry; and holds up well in a wet mixture like pot pie. Be sure to use firm tofu. (Extra-firm if your brand of choice makes it.)
- Baked tofu or tempeh cakes: Pre-made or homemade, baked tofu offers a chewy consistency, much like seitan.
As for the Mixture
Another consideration when turning a pot pie vegan is the creamy sauce that oozes out of the pie when it's cut open. This "soup" is usually made of chicken (beef or turkey) broth, milk, and condensed cream. Clearly, these are not be used in a vegan vegetable pot pie.Instead, improvise with vegetable broth and use all-purpose white flour or cornstarch to thicken it. Add garlic powder, oregano, basil, or other herb for taste and you'll have a good base soup for your veggies.
Vegan Vegetable Pot Pie: The Crust
As for the crust, vegans of course do not eat any dairy or eggs, and a traditional, flaky pie crust requires butter. For vegans, a good substitute is non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening, such as Earth Balance's "vegan buttery sticks" -- which have the consistency and flavor of any buttery spread. As for a recipe that calls for milk or buttermilk, soy milk is the alternative.
A tasty vegan pie crust can be made from:
- Whole-wheat pastry flour
- All-purpose white flour
- Vegetable shortening (non-hydrogenated)
- Salt and herbs to taste
The simplest part of any pot pie is choosing the vegetables, as most anything goes. No matter what recipe you work from, you can always switch out one veggie for another. For instance, corn instead of peas; diced potatoes instead of mashed; or eggplant instead of carrots. As the ultimate comfort food, the pot pie can be really anything you want it to be, including 100% vegan.
Pot Pies to Try
As a vegan, you've no doubt found a variety of ways to improvise while cooking. In fact, substitutions and suitable alternatives are what vegans spend much of their time contemplating.
One thing that is often missing from any vegan's diet is the pastry. Yet with a vegan pot pie, you get a flaky "buttery" pie crust, as well as a hearty helping of delicious veggies and "creamy" soup. It's an all-around winner.
Recipes and a Frozen-Food Pick
A simple comfort food that even beginner cooks can try, the pot pie is a fine choice year-round -- though especially good during the colder, winter months. For when you decide to make a pie, consider these versions for a bit of inspiration:
- Vegans are Friends, Not Food: Recipe for individual pot pies made with a whole-wheat crust.
- Vegetarian Times: A family-style recipe that can be turned vegan by replacing the buttermilk with soymilk. Features a biscuit crust.
- Recipezaar.com: The crust uses no shortening; just flour, oil, and water.
- Cooking.com: The pie filling is made from seitan, vegetable stock, and soy sauce.
- Amy's Non-Dairy Vegetable Pot Pie: Made with vegetables, tofu, and a cream-like sauce. Find it in your grocer's freezer.