A vegetarian pie that isn’t ‘alf bad.

I have finally cracked it; a vegetarian pie that doesn’t make you weep for the meaty dream your pastry could have contained. I’m not saying you’d fall over yourself to order it above mssrs Steak and Kidney, but really decent vegetarian pie filling has eluded me for a while, so I feel like sharing.

The problem is gravy, or to be precise, lack of. Gone are the days when chucking a tin of Campbell’s condensed mushroom soup over a load of parboiled brassicas would do*. Filling a pie with tasty roasted vegetables is all well and good, but without a bit of ooze it’s all a bit one dimensional, texturally speaking. Here’s my way around it.

*having watched CDWM recently I realise, with a shudder, that those days are still alive and kicking in some kitchens.

Aubergine, sweet potato, garlic mushroom, roasted pepper, lentil and goats cheese pie (phew)

Serves 6
½ quantity of this pastry (or 125g shop bought puff pastry)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
Olive oil
120g green lentils
500ml vegetable stock
1 large aubergine, cut into 1cm rounds, which are then cut into quarters
2 peppers, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
50g butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Portobello mushrooms
Handful flat leaf parsley
A little oregano
150g goats cheese (nothing fancy, chevre log will do) cut into chunks

Heat the oven to gas mark 7.

Roast the sweet potato in the pie dish with some oil, salt and pepper. When the potato starts to soften at the edges, add the peppers and onions and roast for a further 30 minutes. Rinse the lentils then simmer them in stock until they’re tender. The stock will gradually reduce which helps to make the ‘gravy’. While the lentils are cooking, cook the aubergine pieces over a high heat, in a heavy based frying pan. You’ll need to use a tiny bit of oil, and salt and pepper. Remove the auibergine from the pan and set to one side. In the same pan, over a low heat, melt the butter and gently cook the garlic until it softens. Turn the heat up a little and add the mushrooms, parsley, and oregano and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Once all the components are ready, add the mushrooms, aubergines and lentils to the pie dish, and mix. If you have quite a lot of stock left, add in just the lentils and further reduce the stock before adding. Season with plenty of pepper, add the goats cheese, and check to see if it needs any more salt. Roll out and add a pastry lid, ensuring you cut couple of air holes, before baking the pie for 15 minutes or so, until the pastry is crisp and golden.