Monday, November 2, 2009
Moosewood Russian Carrot Pie, Veganized!
I've written previously about my affection for Mollie Katzen's earliest tomes of vegetarian cookery, The Moosewood Cookbook and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. It would not be an overstatement to say that these books, along with Anna Thomas' The Vegetarian Epicure, quite literally taught me how to cook, and I have many fond memories of spending an afternoon or evening chopping, stirring, tasting and ultimately eating something like Broccoli Mushroom Noodle Casserole or Lentil-Walnut Burgers. Most particularly, though, I have to give Mollie credit for inspiring my life-long passion for savory pies; growing up, I was familiar with things like shepherd's pie or chicken pot pie, but the likelihood of a quiche or some groovy vegetable tart showing up on the dinner table was pretty remote. But those early Moosewood books were big on pie for dinner, which was a huge revelation to me: I mean, it's pie! And it's dinner! How can this possibly be bad, right?!
Mollie was also into distinctly Eastern-European flavor combinations, so her recipes often included lots of dill, paprika and mushrooms; of course, they were also filled with cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, and butter. On a more hippieish note, wheat germ often figured prominently, and back in the day, my refrigerator always held a big ol' jar of the stuff because it seemed like all my cookbooks demanded its presence in more things than not. The original version of this recipe features nearly all of these things--she skipped the sour cream this time--but mine has none of them except the carrots, onions and seasonings. (Oh, and a crust.) Isa's quiche formula from Vegan Brunch turns out to be an ideal substitute for all that cottage cheese, and I lightened up the fat a little on the veggies, while upping the spices and using panko in place of the ubiquitous wheat germ.
And yet. Despite these emendations, I swear that when I tasted the filling before spooning it into the pie crusts, the years melted away and I was right back in that teensy-weensy first apartment, home from my job at the health food store and feeling like a Real Grown Up, with a glass of wine and a boyfriend on his way home and everything. (NB the circa 1987 Jerry Garcia Band show playing in the background did nothing to dispel this illusion). In short, these pies were absolutely delicious, and I am now inspired to revise and revisit more old favorites; watch this space, because that Whole Wheat Macaroni, Russian Style is gonna get veganized, and soon!
Moosewood Russian Carrot Pie, Veganized
The Cheesy Part
~1 lb. extra firm tofu, drained and crumbled
~3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked in hot water for at least an hour
~2 tbsp. oil (I used canola)
~1 tsp. each: salt, paprika, dill
~Pinch of nutmeg
~A few grinds of fresh black pepper
~Combine all of the above ingredients and puree thoroughly in a a food processor (wasn't that easy?)
~Set aside while you make...
The Carroty Part
~1 tbsp. Earth Balance (Mollie wanted 3 tbsp. butter: oy!)
~1 cup finely chopped onions
~1 lb. carrots, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
~1 tsp. each: salt, paprika
~2 tsp. dill
~Fresh black pepper, to taste
~3 tbsp. flour
~2 single pie crusts; I used store bought, but if you prefer home-made, go for it (in fact, Mollie recommends an "eagerly awaiting nut crust," make of that what you will)!
~1/2 cup panko crumbs
~1 tbsp. melted Earth Balance
~1/2 tsp. each: dill and paprika, for garnish
~Preheat the oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.
~In a large skillet or wok, melt the Earth Balance and saute the onions until soft, about 10 minutes.
~Add the sliced carrots, salt, paprika, dill and black pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes more, until the carrots are soft but not mushy.
~Stir in the flour to coat the vegetables, and remove from heat.
~Add the tofu mixture to the vegetables and combine thoroughly. Spoon the filling into your (eagerly awaiting) pie crusts.
~In a small bowl, combine the panko, melted EB, dill and paprika, then sprinkle half the mixture over each pie. Cover with foil, and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
~After 15 minutes, raise the heat to 400 degrees, remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes, keeping an eye on things to make sure the topping doesn't burn.
~Remove from oven and allow to set up for at least 10-15 minutes before slicing. We ate our carrot pie with a green salad topped with toasted walnuts, fresh basil, and Annie's Organic Goddess Dressing (because we're still kinda hippies).