Long before I had my children and before I met my husband I was a vegetarian. There was a long list of reasons why I chose to be vegetarian at the time, including the fact I was a broke uni student and meat was pretty expensive! My mum and I decided to eat a vegetarian diet when I was in high school and although I got a lot of funny nicknames and was constantly asked, ‘buy why?’ I stuck it out until I finished uni. I eat meat now and I stand by my choice to do so.
Although I was lucky to learn from my Mum how to cook delicious meat free dishes and how to include plenty of protein in my diet. I think when you cut out entire food groups you run the risk of depriving your body of the things it needs, even if you have the best of intentions. For me, I was only young and didn’t know enough about nutrition to sustain a healthy vegetarian diet and in my youth I would eat hot chips as a meal because it didn’t contain meat. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this was not healthy and would eventually lead to deficiencies. And it did. I became low in iron and very weak. At the time I was running long distances and by the end of a run I felt dizzy and so tired I could go to sleep. Something had to give. I ended up, reluctantly, eating meat again to regain some energy. I then went on to marry a beef farmer and moved to the country which meant, if you didn’t eat meat you’d be very hungry.
My vegetarian experience certainly wasn’t all negative though! In fact, some of the most delicious meals I have ever eaten where vegetarian and we have meatless meals through the week more than we have meaty meals. This next recipe was something I learnt to cook as a teenager and would cook for our family. The pasty doesn’t contain butter so if you omit the cheese (and possibly replace with a small amount of nut parmesan) this dish could also be vegan. This is a great way to load up the veggie content in your weekly meal plan. It freezes well too, so is great to make ahead of time and eat as an easy mid-week meal. I have included Thermomix instructions for the pastry but I prefer to make the filling on the stove top and haven’t experimented with times etc. in the TMX. I feel the Thermomix may make the mixture too smooth and the best bit about this pie is the chunky veggies.
Olive Oil Pastry
400g Wholemeal Spelt flour
130g Olive Oil
100g Ice Cold water
1/2 tsp sea/himalayan salt
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (fan forced)
2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or Thermomix (6 seconds/ speed 6 then ‘knead’ for 1 minute)
3. Turn out onto a floured surface and work into a ball. Separate 2/3 of the pastry and roll out to fit a pie dish, allowing for a little overhang. Wrap the other 1/3 of pastry and set aside.
4. Place some baking paper and rice/ baking beads on top of the pastry and blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove baking paper and rice or beads and set aside while you make the filling.
Veggie and Lentil Filling
1/4 large jap pumpkin. peeled and roughly chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
2 Cloves of garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 brown onion. diced
1-2 TBS Butter or ghee
600 mL stock or broth (1 TBS TMX Stock concentrate to 600mL water)
1 tin of brown lentils
1 cup of grated cheese
1 cup of frozen peas
2 sprigs of thyme (leaves only)
Juice of half a lemon
1. Add butter, garlic and onions to a heavy based or cast iron pot and saute until translucent.
2. Add all the vegetables, except the peas, and stir to coat them in the garlic, onion and butter.
3. Add stock and allow to come to the boil. Simmer, occasionally stirring, until vegetables have soaked up the majority of the liquid and are soft enough to mash with the back of a wooden spoon. The consistency should be that of a thin mashed potato.
4. Add the tin of lentils, peas and half the cheese and allow to heat through for about five minutes.
5. Tip the mixture into the blind baked pie casing and top with remaining cheese.
6. Roll of the remaining 1/3 of the pastry and place it on top the pie. Using a fork to press around the edges. Use a sharp knife to make a few holes on the top of the pie. Brush the pie with either an egg wash or some milk or water.
7. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden and crunchy.