This creamy vegan pot pie is a sublime combination of creamy mustardy sauce with chunks of vegetables and chewy baked tofu all topped with a divine gluten-free vegan pastry that is crusty on top but meltingly soft underneath and soaking up all the delicious flavours of the sauce.
Brrrr… winter has arrived! Each year, when the weather turns colder, I find myself craving pie. The other night I was hankering for creamy chicken and leek pie so I decided to experiment with making a vegan alternative. I am so thrilled with the result. I felt a flutter of excitement when even my meat-eating, gluten-loving husband declared that this vegan pot pie was really good!
You can, of course, use shop-bought ready-rolled pastry instead of making your own. I wanted the challenge of coming up with a good vegan and gluten-free shortcrust pastry recipe that I can use over the Christmas period for all manner of things so it suited me to make my own (and I’m not even sure I could find gluten-free vegan pastry to buy in Qatar!). It’s also actually quite easy to do, especially if you own a food processor!
Gluten-free and vegan pastry
Having been gluten-free for ten years, I feel fairly confident with making gluten-free pastry but vegan pastry is a totally different ballgame! The first version I made was bland and a little tough so it needed a fair bit of experimentation. I decided not to attempt to replicate the buttery flavour of pastry and chose to go for a different flavour instead, so I added tahini to the mixture. Tahini is so good for you (did you know that a quarter of a cup of sesame seeds contains more calcium than a glass of milk?) and it adds moisture and a subtle background sesame flavour to the pastry. I can’t tell you how good this tahini pastry is – it’s amazing! I think we will be having a lot more pastry dishes this winter as I just want to eat this all the time!
Unfortunately, I made the rookie mistake of leaving the mushrooms and leeks identifiable which caused quite a bit of moaning from the kids. Watching them meticulously pick out every tiny piece of mushroom was painful so next time I will be whizzing up the mushroom and leek once they’re cooked. My fussiest middle daughter surprised me by being more grown up than the other two and saying she didn’t mind because she just hid the mushrooms between two pieces of the yummy pastry and then it was ok! So there you have it, pastry makes everything ok, and now you have a fantastic gluten-free and vegan version for all your pastry needs!
Don't be put off by the recipe looking quite long! It's long because I had to write in a lot of detail to make sure you know exactly what needs to be done. For instance, I have given two different methods for making the pastry and for baking the tofu - you only have to choose one of each though! Also, the sauce ingredients list is long only because I wanted lots of yummy vegetables in there. You know diversity of produce is key to a healthy diet right?
This is actually a very easy vegan pot pie to make. These are the basic steps:
Tofu - Press the tofu, cut into cubes, rub with oil and salt and pepper then bake or air-fry until crispy.
Pastry - Make the pastry by whizzing all the pastry ingredients in the food processor, then chill, roll out between two sheets of baking paper, and chill again until needed.
Filling - fry the onion, mushrooms, leeks and garlic slowly until browned, add the liquids, carrots and seasonings and simmer for 5 minutes, then add cornflour mixed with a little water and stir over a medium high heat for a few minutes until thickened. Add the tofu and peas and then pour the filling into the pie dish.
Lay the pastry on top of the filling and then bake for 45 minutes until browned.
How to Press Tofu
Often, firm tofu needs to be pressed before you use it, so that it gets a firmer texture. Once you've drained it from the liquid in the packet, you can put it on a plate lined with a few pieces of folded up kitchen towel, then put a plate and something heavy on top of it (like a small cast iron pan or a few tins of beans) and leave. Occasionally drain the liquid off the plate and change to fresh kitchen towel. It is not a difficult process but takes a little patience dealing with the kitchen towel!
I am a little lazy and I prefer a simple mess-free option so I have a tofu press which is fantastic because you literally just add the tofu into it, put the lid on and then pour off the liquid a little later. I find it much easier, so much so, that I bought a second one when I went to stay with my Mum last summer!
Chefs Tips & Substitutions
- Don’t feel you have to make the pastry if you don’t want to. Shop-bought pastry is absolutely fine too or you could even top this vegan pot pie with mashed potato or mashed cauliflower instead.
- Pressing the tofu is super important! If you don’t press it, it will be soft and squidgy instead of chewy and firm. If you don’t like tofu, you could easily substitute beans or lentils instead.
- Feel free to swap to whichever vegetables you like but it’s probably best to stick to root vegetables as opposed to soft vegetables that might go brown and soggy (broccoli, green beans, courgette). They would taste fine but might not look very appealing. I would keep the mushrooms as they add a good depth of flavour but you can easily swap the leeks for more onions if you prefer. I’m sure those little pearl onions would be good too! I have used frozen chopped leeks and frozen mushrooms with no issues whatsoever.
You can make the filling and pastry up to 3 days in advance and keep them separate in the fridge (the pastry uncooked in a disc in cling film). Then on the day you want to eat it, assemble the pie, lay the pastry on top and bake.
Depending on the size of your dish, you may well have some pastry leftover. Just pull it all together and roll into a disc again, then put in a plastic bag, label and stick it in the freezer until you want to make pastry again! Or keep in the fridge if you're likely to use it again soon (up to 5 days).
As for leftovers of the cooked vegan pot pie, just cover the dish and keep it in the fridge, for up to 3 days. Re-heat either in the microwave (but the pastry will go slightly soggy) or in the oven (covered with foil to avoid the pastry burning) until the middle is piping hot. Test the inside temperature by poking a fork into the middle for 10 seconds, to see if it comes out boiling hot to touch.
📖 Recipe 📖
Creamy Vegan Pot Pie with Tahini Pastry (Vegan and Gluten-Free)
- 400 g block of firm or extra firm tofu pressed and drained, then cut into small cubes
- 1 tablespoon oil
- Salt and pepper
- 50 g coconut oil, softened (or vegan butter)
- 150 g almond flour
- 80 g coconut flour
- 60 g tapioca flour
- 50 g tahini
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 90 ml cold water
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 200 g leeks sliced
- 100 g mushrooms sliced
- 3 garlic cloves sliced
- 4 teaspoon vegetable stock powder
- 400 ml water
- 400 ml oat milk
- 50 ml white wine
- 200 g carrots sliced
- ½ teaspoon dried tarragon (or double up the thyme if you don't like tarragon)
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- a generous grind of black pepper
- 2 tablespoon cornflour mixed with a little water
- 100 g frozen peas
- Start with the tofu. It needs to be pressed well for an hour or more. Use a tofu press or drain the tofu, put it on a plate lined with a few pieces of folded up kitchen towel, then put something heavy on top of it and set aside. Occasionally drain the liquid off the plate and change to fresh kitchen towel.
- Next make the pastry. a) by hand: mix together the flours, coconut oil and tahini by rubbing with your fingertips until everything is like fine breadcrumbs and then slowly add the very cold water while mixing with a spoon until the mixture comes together into a dough-like consistency.b) by machine: put all the ingredients except the water into a food processor and pulse a few times until it looks like fine breadcrumbs then, with the food processor running, pour in the cold water slowly through the spout until the mixture comes together. (or if using a thermomix, put all in at once and set to 20 secs. / sp. 5)Once it pulls together into a clump, empty the dough onto a piece of clingfilm, wrap it up, push it together into a disc shape and pop it in the fridge to cool and harden up a bit.
- Set the oven to pre-heat to 200°C.
- After 10 minutes, take the pastry out of the fridge and roll between two sheets of baking paper. Roll out to the size of your dish, just over ½ cm thick. Then put back in the fridge until the pie is ready to top. (see notes for saving extra bits of pastry!)
- After pressing the tofu, pour off the liquid and pat the tofu dry with some fresh kitchen towel. Then cut it up into small bite-size pieces and put into a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix together then either:a) oven: put it on a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake in the oven at 200°C for 30 minutes, mixing them about half way through to try to turn them all over, or b) air fryer: put in the air-fryer basket and air-fry at 180°C for 13-15 minutes, giving the basket a good shake half way through.
- While the tofu is cooking, make the sauce. Pour the olive oil into a large pan and warm over the heat. Once hot, add the onion, leeks, mushrooms and garlic and fry on a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are all nicely browned.
- Add the carrots and the rest of the sauce ingredients except the peas and the cornflour mixture. Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 8 minutes while the carrots cook.
- Add the cornflour mixture and stir constantly while simmering for a couple of minutes to thicken. Taste and adjust the seasoning as required. Then add the roasted tofu and frozen peas, mix well and pour into a pie dish.
- Take the pastry out of the fridge and carefully peel off one side of the baking paper. Flip it over onto the filled pie dish and press down, then peel off the top side of the baking paper. Cut the edges off and press the pastry against the dish (you could decorate with the discarded pieces if you fancy). Make a couple of holes in the pastry by stabbing with a knife (to let out some of the steam) and brush with a little plant-based milk on top.
- Bake in the oven @ 200°C for 45 minutes until the pastry is browned and cooked through.
- You may not need all the water or you may need a little more – it depends on your flours and the temperature and humidity of your kitchen. Just add enough to make the fine breadcrumb texture change to larger clumps that you can easily pull together into a soft pliable dough (harder than bread dough but not too soft).
- Depending on the size of your dish, you may have spare unused pastry. Just bring these little bits all together in a ball and flatten down to a disc and store in cling film or a ziplock bag in the freezer for when you next need pastry.
- If you don't want to make the pastry, use shop bought pastry or mashed potato or mashed cauliflower instead.
- If you're catering for fussy children who might not like chunky vegetables, you could whizz up the sauce mixture in a blender before adding the cornflour and peas. This will thicken the sauce somewhat so you may no longer need the cornflour mixture to thicken it.
- Substitute the tofu for beans or lentils if you prefer.
- See the blog post for advice on switching vegetables.
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