02 April 2007
Spring in a Blanket
I am a warm-blooded creature. I spend most of winter huddled in front of a heater, counting the days until warmer weather arrives, and Sunday afternoons often see me swaddled in a blanket, the blanket dragging behind me as I pad from couch to kitchen. When spring finally peaks its head in crocus blossoms, it never seems to come fast enough, its promises of warm breezes tampered by chilling rains and cool evenings. Maybe I’m impatient but spring always seems awfully late to live up to its potential.
The spring markets are much the same, we start talking about all that spring fare long before it actually arrives. When those early stalks of asparagus and tender carrots crop up, they still need a little bit of coddling, something to coax out their delicate nature. That is just what this dish is, a vegetable pot pie to bridge the season’s gap. It’s the sort of warming dish I imagine eating seated on someone’s patio, tulips in bloom. Throwing off our winter coats in a celebration of clean bright flavors, but still with a sweater of a pie shell to ward off the chill.
Because everyone’s favorite part about pot pie is the crust, I like to make these in individual soup bowls or ramekins, preferably ones deeper than those pictured here. As with any seasonal recipe, feel free to add any vegetable or herb that looks good in the market, baby turnips instead of potatoes, or pearl onions or fava beans. The patio is optional.
Spring Vegetable Pot Pies
If you have the time, I highly recommend making your own vegetable stock, though this dish will still be good without it. Making it in individual bowl means everyone gets a good amount of crisp buttery crust.
1 pie crust
4 tbl butter
6 baby potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6-10 thin spring carrots, peeled and chopped
1 pound thin aspapragus, ends trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
12 small mushrooms, such as cremini or morel
1 bunch scallions, bottoms sliced and and about 1/4 cup of green parts sliced
1 cup baby peas, thawed if frozen
2 tbl snipped chives
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped tarragon
2 tbl flour
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
3-4 tbl cream, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 400°. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled pie crust. Using a 6-inch bowl or plate as a template, cut out 6 rounds. Transfer the rounds to a large baking sheet and refrigerate them until well chilled.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large, deep skillet. Add the potatoes and carrots and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the asparagus and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the scallions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the peas and cook just until heated through. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the snipped chives and chopped parsley and tarragon.
3. Return the skillet to moderate heat and melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 1 minute. Whisk in the vegetable broth and cook over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the cream, then stir the vegetables into the sauce, season with salt and pepper, and let cool slightly.
4. Spoon the vegetable filling into six ovenproof bowls. Top each bowl with a pie crust round, pressing around the edges to seal. Set the bowls on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake the potpies for 30 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and puffed and the filling is bubbling.