Veggie-Feta Pot Pie

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Preparation time: (assuming filling is leftover) 1 hr

Cooking time: 40-45 minutes

For the filling: I used leftovers from the filling for my calzones from the night before (but without the cheese). I sprinkled ¼ cup slivered almonds and about ¼ cup of feta over the veggies. The almonds and feta added a lovely flavor to the veggies. Definitely worth making, if you have the time and the energy.

FOR THE PIE CRUST

This recipe is for a double-layer crust.

You need: 3 cups all-purpose flour; 2 tsp salt; ¾ sup vegetable shortening (it works better than butter); ½ cup cold water

How to:

  1. Put the flour in a bowl and blend in the salt and vegetable shortening. You can use a metal fork to break the shortening into the flour until all the shortening has been worked into the flour. The texture should be loose and grainy, not compacted.
  2. Chill the dough for an hour in the fridge or 30m in the freezer.
  3. Add the ½ water and blend in with a fork.
  4. Divide the dough into two portions and form them into balls.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  6. Roll out one half into about ¼ inch thick and place it in the pie pan. Cut the extra edge off with a butter knife.
  7. Add the filling. Roll out the top crust.
  8. Wet your finger and run it around the edge of the bottom crust (to help seal the pie). Place the top crust over the pie. Cut off the extra edge and press down to seal.
  9. Brush some oil over the top of the pie.
  10. Cut three vents in the top. Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes.
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Vegetable Riot Pasta Sauce

Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: about 40-45 minutes

I wanted to make a pasta sauce that had lots of vegetables (and thereby reduce the amount of pasta eaten as well). This turned out very, very well, and we were pleased with it.

You need: 1 yellow squash, diced; 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped; 2 cups tomatoes, diced; 1 bunch any greens you like, finely chopped; 1-2 bell peppers, diced; 1 cup loosely packed cilantro (or parsley, whichever you prefer); 2-3 bay leaves; 1/4 cup red wine vinegar; 2 tbsp minced garlic; and to taste: dill, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, black pepper, red chili flakes or dried red chilies, salt. Yes, I know I add too many herbs, but they taste so good.

How to: I used dried herbs, BTW, but you could use fresh if you have them.

Heat some olive oil in a pan large enough to hold everything. Add the dried red chilies if you are using them, and the bay leaves.

Add the squash, cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Add rosemary and thyme.

Add red peppers, cook 5 minutes, etc. etc.

Add onions, stir, cook for 5 minutes.

Add greens, stir, cover and let it cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add red wine vinegar, stir well, and let it cook uncovered until the vinegar has cooked away. Add garlic.

Stir again, add tomatoes. Stir, cover, let it cook for 5 minutes.

Add remaining herbs and salt. Cover and let it cook till done.

Uncover and let the water cook out, if you like. Add the cilantro just before you take it off the heat, stir, and ladle it over the pasta of your choice. (We had spinach fettuccine).

Kootu

Kootu is traditional South Indian fare, dal with vegetables, but very different from sambar. For one thing, it’s a lot milder. The vegetables used seem to be those that mix well with dal. This is hard to explain, but you can use things like cabbage, knol-khol (kohlrabi), greens, potato, beans, turnips, squash, etc.

You need: 1 cup dal (moong or toor dal is best, but masoor is just fine as well); 1 tsp kootu podi (kootu masala – I’m going to tell you how to make it, don’t fret); ghee.

I’m listing three different recipes for kootu podi here. Pick any one and run with it. The first two recipes are adapted from recipes courtesy my aunt (Thanks, Prabha Periamma!). The third is my own.

Kootu podi 1:

You need: 1 tsp urad dal (this is small white dal available at any Indian grocery); ½ tsp black pepper; 1/3 tsp jeera.

Dry-grind the lot together and bottle in a dry glass jar.

Kootu podi 2:

You need: 1 tsp garlic; 2 small green chilies; 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera); 1/8 cup shredded coconut; 4-5 curry leaves (kadipatta); 1/2 tsp ginger; and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi), if you haven’t already added it to the dal.

Blend all ingredients together (I think one of those tiny little blenders is a must for every kitchen. I use a coffee grinder for dry masalas).

Kootu podi 3:

You need: 1 tsp coriander seeds (dhania dana); 2 red dried chilies; 1 tsp peppercorns; 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera); 1 tsp urad dal; 1 tsp dried curry leaves (you can briefly toast them, don’t let them burn).

Roast the ingredients in the following order (that means a dry pan with no oil, on a low flame): dal – 1 minute by itself, then everything else except the curry leaves. If you smell burning, toss it out and start again. When the dal turns nice and reddish-brown, take it off the heat. Add the curry leaves and grind it all to a fine powder. Store in a dry glass jar.

How to:

Boil the dal with turmeric and salt. I usually eyeball it when it comes to water, but let’s say you can add 3 cups of water to every one cup of dal. Add more if needed. (If it becomes glutinous, you need more water).

When the dal is half-cooked (before it gets mushy), add the vegetables and salt to taste.

When the vegetables are cooked, add the kootu podi and bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Add ghee. Eat with rice/chappatis.

Delicata rice

I came up with this on Thanksgiving, when I was trying to do something else and this is what eventually happened. It was very pretty, and very tasty. I would have taken a picture, but it got eaten before I thought about it. And yes, I pretty much eat rice with everything. It’s the South Indian in me. Must. Have. Rice.

You need: One delicata squash; 1/2 cup cooked rice; 1 tomato; 1 medium-sized onion; 1/2 tsp ginger paste; 1/2 can vegetable broth; salt and Italian seasoning to taste (or fresh herbs).

How to:

Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds.

Place squash in a shallow bowl with a bit of water (rind up) and microwave on high for about 20 minutes. Note: squash will be VERY soft when this is done.

Chop onions and tomatoes finely.

Put a little olive oil in a pan, fry onions. Add ginger.

Cook a bit, add tomatoes.

Meanwhile, scoop squash out of peel, put in a bowl, and mash. When onions and tomatoes are cooked, add squash.

Add salt, Italian seasoning, vegetable broth.

Bring to a boil. Add rice.

Let it simmer a little (2-3 minutes).

Take off heat and eat.