Do you want to make a vegetarian at your Thanksgiving table really happy? Make a batch of these mini vegetable pot pies instead of a frozen turkey substitute. In fact, everyone will enjoy these, they can easily be made ahead of time and reheated while the turkey rests which is key for a big feast! Are you making an entirely vegetarian meal? Even better, these are the perfect main dish. Easy to fit on a plate, and the perfect singe serving to leave room for all the rest. Honestly, make these any time, not just for holidays.
The only equipment you’ll need is a muffin tin, which most people already have. I made these with a high crust to filling ratio – which is what I love. Another popular version of individual pot pies is to spoon the filling into oven proof bowls, then drape crust over the top and bake. You can certainly do this, but there’s something really great about the format of these. Entirely self contained, easy to store and reheat. That’s what you need when you’re planning a large meal.
Prep for these savory pastries has a few steps, but anyone can master them. Make an all butter crust, and then a roasted one-pot filling. Assemble the pies and bake them off. They’re “rustic” so if the filling bubbles over a bit no one will know. The filling has butternut squash with carrots and rutabaga. The squash softens and melts into the sauce, which is key because we want a thicker filling than normal. It also adds a lot of body to the vegetarian base.
I really had an internal struggle over making this a vegan option for Thanksgiving, but in the end butter won. You could make a vegan version by subbing olive oil or buttery spread for the butter in the filling and then using your favorite vegan pie crust. (skip the egg wash) You’ll prep the bottom crusts while the filling simmers, for my muffin tin a quart size plastic container worked perfectly. It has a 4 1/2 inch diameter. Roll the crust really thin, it will puff up while it bakes.
If you’ve made pies before than you probably know that warm fillings make it hard to work with the dough much after you’ve draped if over the top. I left an overhang on the bottom crust and then basically floated a small circle over the top (from an 8 oz jam jar). They bubbled over a bit during cooking but once I popped them out of the pan it was unnoticeable. If you have something that will make a small hole in the top, I’d recommend cutting a circle out before you transfer the top crust. The holes I made with a skewer just baked over.
Mini Vegetable Pot Pies
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 sticks butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 – 8 tablespoons ice water
1 small butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 1/2 – 3 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
10 brussels sprouts, outer leaves and stems removed, sliced into shreds
1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
salt and pepper
1 egg yolk + 2 tablespoons milk
Make the crust. Pulse all-purpose flour and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining.
Transfer mixture to a large bowl; drizzle with ¼ cup ice water. Mix with a fork, adding more ice water by the tablespoonful if needed, just until the dough comes together; lightly knead. Pat into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400°F
Make the filling. Cut the onion, butternut squash, rutabaga, and carrot into a small dice. You’ll want 4 cups total of vegetables. Place the vegetables in a cast iron skillet or oven proof sauté pan, toss with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the squash is very soft, and the carrots and rutabaga are browning at the edges.
While the squash is baking, roll out the bottom crusts. Grease a 12 – muffin tin with butter. Separate the dough into 1/3 and 2/3 chunks. Wrap the smaller piece in plastic and return it to the refrigerator. Roll the dough out very thin – 1/4 inch. Use a 4 1/2″ round cutter if you have it, or the top of a container to cut out circles of dough. When you place them in the pan you should have about a 1/2 inch left around the top. If you need to, ball up the scraps and re-roll them so you have enough circles. Refrigerate the bottom crusts while you finish making the filling.
Finish the filling. Transfer the filling to the stove top and turn the heat to medium low. (Be careful of the hot pan!). Push the vegetables to the side and melt the butter in the center of the pan. Stir to coat the vegetables, then sprinkle the flour over the top and stir. The vegetables will start to get pasty. Add the stock 1/2 a cup at a time, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan. The squash will soften and mix with the liquid forming a thick sauce. Stir in the garlic, thyme, brussels sprouts, and chickpeas. Let simmer for a few minutes so the Brussels sprouts start to cook (they’ll finish cooking in the oven). Turn off the heat, add more stock if necessary, taste and season with salt and pepper. Let cool a bit before assembling the pies.
Assemble the pies. Roll the remaining crust out into 1/4 inch sheet. Remove the prepped bottom crusts from the refrigerator. Scoop about 1/4 cup filling into a crust, then top with a small circle of dough (I used an 8 oz jam jar to make these) with a vent hole already cut out. Crimp the edges of the bottom crust around the top. Repeat until all of the pies are made.
Whisk the egg yolk and milk together in a small bowl and brush the tops of pies with the mixture.
Bake at 400°F for 30 – 35 minutes until the tops are golden. Let cool on a wire rack. Serve warm. Store leftovers in a container in the refrigerator and reheat in the oven.
*feel free to change the root vegetables (parsnips, potatoes, celeriac, etc), but keep the squash, it thickens the sauce.