Veggie-Pot-Pi-Day-Dinner

I took the day off yesterday, and about 3/4 of the way through our day of leisurely adventuring, I looked at my work email and saw several different office-wide emails alerting people to the existence of different pies in the kitchen for Pi Day. In my head, I still think it’s basically March 1st (SERIOUSLY, THOUGH, HOW IS IT THE 15TH?!), so I sort of, kind of, totally, absolutely forgot about Pi Day. But really? Who doesn’t like an excuse to eat pie? Cyborgs and zombies, that’s who.

So, we decided to try our hand at making a vegetarian pot pie for dinner. We’ve done several versions of vegetarian shepherd’s and pot pies, usually with lackluster results. I’ve found it’s pretty tricky to vegetarian-ize standard, classic, meaty favorites, like pot pie or meatloaf, but we figured there was no better day to give it another shot. A quick Google search turned up this recipe, which we used with some adaptations.

We used a 9 inch pie plate instead of an 11 x 7 dish, so we sort of guessed at how much to reduce quantities of all the ingredients to fit our pie. Because it was a last-minute idea and we still had to go hang out in the beer garden for a while before we wanted to cook dinner (priorities!), we took a bunch of shortcuts: namely, store-bought crust, and a box each of frozen mixed veggies (corn, green beans, lima beans, peas, carrots) and of cauliflower florets. We also added more garlic than the recipe calls for, because we like to ward off vampires and coworkers just by emitting garlic through our skin.

Other modifications made based on the comments on the recipe. We only used a cup and a half of vegetable broth, and we used 4 tablespoons of cornstarch instead of 2. Probably could have stood to increase the broth or cut the cornstarch a bit, but it was moist and delicious without making the crust soggy. I was skeptical of the soy sauce, but I have to say that this was the best vegetarian pot pie I’ve had. It definitely satisfied the craving for pot pie without using any fake meat or such things.

So, ultimately, our last-minute Pi Day celebration was a success! And now I need to go wrap up the leftovers before we slowly pick away at the remaining pie until it’s gone…

Pesky-tarianism

E is a pescatarian. After nearly 25 years of meat and dairy and basically everything else making him sick, and 4 years of me nagging him to try going vegetarian for a little while to see if it helped, he broke after one particularly awful car ride from New York to Massachusetts, and hasn’t eaten meat since. The dairy avoidance comes and goes, but he’s definitely better off when he’s not eating dairy. For some reason, seafood doesn’t really bother him, so he still eats fish and their water-going friends for a quick protein fix.

I still eat meat. I don’t eat a lot of meat, but I still eat it. However, we don’t prepare meat at home. Neither of us in interested in making multiple meals to please individual diners, and I’m okay with not having meat for dinner, anyway. Most of the time. I find that, generally, our meatless meals are more thoughtful, healthier, cheaper and easier to prepare, especially since I never really got comfortable with cooking meat and was always convinced we were one meal away from lethal food poisoning.

Sometimes, though, meals without meat feel like a great betrayal to the elaborate meat-centric family dinners that my parents put on the table growing up. Meat, starch, vegetable — I admit that creating a dining experience where the various components complement each other was easier and more fun when you had more discrete elements. Occasionally I find myself wanting to just have a simple 3-item meal rather than concoct some elaborate vegetarian dish to satisfy us. It can begin to feel like every night we’re just throwing a bunch of vegetables and a grain in a pot and mindlessly eating whatever comes out – since we avoid fake meat, it seems like most vegetarian cooking blogs offer these one-dish meals as our only other option. And who can blame them? It’s easy otherwise to end up with a diet that feels like it’s composed entirely of side dishes.

So, I am always a little bit extra pleased when a dinner comes together easily and makes us feel like we got something tasty and satisfying out of the deal. Last night, we had salmon tacos full of the veggies pictured at left and some black beans, cheese, and, of course, salmon. It was a great way to begin to say goodbye to summer (I walk through the Union Square Greenmarket on my way to work, and every time I am overwhelmed by a desire to BUY ALL THE PRODUCE before they are gone!), and the leftovers made an awesome salad which, admittedly, felt a bit like making a meal out of a side dish. Can’t win ‘em all, I guess.