Saturday, June 2, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower Pie

"You will make a Saturday pie of all parties' opinions, and be pelted by everybody."

So says Mrs Cadwallader in Middlemarch, by way of warning Mr Brooke not to vote as an "independent man," but in support of what she considers "the right party." Mrs Cadwallader is wary of mixing and matching political opinions, preferring that her representatives toe the straight conservative line. Despite that estimable lady's advice, I'm bound to say that the thinking voter should cling to as independent a frame of mind as possible, if only to maintain some degree of sanity. This is especially true in such a vexed election year (and I'm astonished to realize that this blog began just about four years ago, smack in the middle of the last one), and if that means running the risk of being "pelted by everybody," so be it.

"But what does any of this have to do with cauliflower, or with pie?" you ask. Well, for one thing, it's Saturday! And as you may have inferred from Mrs Cadwallader's use of the term, a "Saturday pie" is basically miscellaneous bits and pieces (usually leftovers) mixed together, put into a crust and baked; shepherd's and cottage pies have their roots in the same tradition. Personally, I love savory pies, and make them often; in fact, I'd be perfectly content to be pelted with them whenever and wherever the opportunity might present itself. I've been toying with the idea of making one with cauliflower for awhile, and initially entertained a vague intention of veganizing the Cauliflower Cheese Pie from Mollie Katzen's Moosewood Cookbook (a seminal text in my vegetarian adolescence). I ultimately decided that the vibe I wanted in this instance was less "earnest hippie" than "cozy pub grub," and that's very much what this recipe evokes. 

Cauliflower gets a bad rap as broccoli's pale, boring cousin, but that's because it's so frequently boiled or steamed to a bland, unappetizing mush. The simple fact is that nothing brings out cauliflower's sometimes-elusive yumminess like roasting, which reveals a nutty sweetness that broccoli only wishes it could achieve. So, even though my lovely white florets were destined to be baked in a pastry crust with a bunch of other stuff, I decided to roast it first, with excellent results. With some mashed sweet potatoes and creamed spinach on the side, this made a nice, comfort-foodie weekend dinner, and provided leftovers for the next day as well. I should note that this recipe is for two (single crust) pies, because there's no point in making one of anything around here. But if you're cooking for fewer people, or have some weird objection to leftovers, just go ahead and halve the quantities. Either way, you can expect to be pelted with praise!

Roasted Cauliflower Pie
The Filling
~ 2 large potatoes, cooked until soft and roughly mashed (you still want some texture) 
~ 1 big head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 large onion, diced
~ 1 cup chopped mushrooms (this was about 6 big baby bellas, but whatever)
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, sage, marjoram, paprika
~ 2 pie crusts (homemade or store-bought)

~ Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.
~ Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange the chopped cauliflower in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and coat with an additional squirt of cooking spray. Roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until browned but not blackened. Remove from oven and set aside.
~ In a large, deep skillet, sauté the onions in the olive oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until softened.
~ Add the chopped mushrooms and seasonings, and cook another five minutes.
~ Stir in the roasted cauliflower and the mashed potato, combine thoroughly, and set aside while you make...

The Sauce
~ 1 tbsp. vegan margarine (I like Earth Balance)
~ 1 tsp. each: minced garlic, prepared mustard, vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, Marmite (optional, but do it)
~ 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
~ 1/4 tsp. turmeric, for color
~ 2.5 cups plain, unsweetened soymilk
~ 1 cup nutritional yeast

~ In a saucepan, melt the margarine over low heat. Add the garlic, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and Marmite, and cook for about a minute.
~  Add the flour and the dry seasonings, and stir to make a roux
~ Begin stirring in the soy milk, and then gradually add the nutritional yeast.
~ Continue cooking, whisking continually to prevent lumps.
~ When all the milk and nooch has been added and everything is smooth and lovely, cook the sauce for about 5 minutes longer, and then add to the filling mixture. Set aside to cool briefly.
Add the sauce to the vegetable mixture, combine thoroughly, and pour into prepared pie-crusts.
~Sprinkle on a little extra paprika and/or parsley for garnish, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top is browned and the filling is relatively solid, it will set up more as it cools.
~Allow to rest for about 15-20 minutes before slicing.

1 comment:

  1. yum! that sounds delicious! cauliflower is such a humble superstar:) i'll have to give this a try! thanks for sharing!