I’m not going to lie, 2011 has felt, at times, like quite the roller coaster. Romantic relationships ended before they even began. Endless open houses and condo showings pursuit of my perfect Chicago home netted me little more than a failed negotiation. So when I finally got a piece of good news recently, celebrations seemed in order. Most girls would have opted for a bottle of champagne or a strong cosmopolitan, but I went a different route — the farmers’ market. Unusual, maybe, but it felt oh so satisfying.
Browsing among the stands of cherubic patty pan squash and fragrant basil, I knew I was exactly where I wanted to be. I also came home with quite the loot – a couple of crowns of broccoli, English peas, patty pan squash, and some practically psychedelic purple carrots.
The plan? A rich and creamy vegetarian pot pie.
Sure, it’s a little out of season, its bubbling filling and buttery crust more easily associated with cold nights of fall or winter. But you can’t really deny a craving.
To give the filling itself a ton of flavor I used some garlic scapes I had kicking around the refrigerator as well as some vegetable broth, half and half and a bit of Chile Crunch for heat. Combined with my farmers’ market veggies it made for a luscious mix that easily could have been satisfying on its own as a summer vegetable chowder. But instead I decided to go whole hog with a Polenta-Parmesan Crumble instead of a more traditional pastry topper. I loved the slight sweetness and nuttiness of the corn and the Parmesan added the subtlest note of salty cheese flavor to round out the dish.
Overall it was incredibly satisfying and the best possible way to celebrate. And even better, it’s infinitely customizable for other occasions. You can easily swap out the vegetables and cheese for whatever happens to be in season or on hand. And the Polenta? For a more colorful twist, blue cornmeal would be a fun and inspired swap. But however you choose to mix it up, it’s definitely a great way to turn summer’s vegetables into something special.
-1/4 cup butter (the majority of this will be used for the crumble so make sure it is thoroughly chilled)
-1 yellow onion, diced
-2 tablespoons chopped garlic scapes
-2 cups cubed patty pan squash
-3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
-One 14.5 ounce can vegetable broth
-leaves of 4 sprigs of thyme
-1 ½ teaspoons Chile Crunch (or red pepper flakes to taste)
-1/2 teaspoon Season-All
-1 ½ cups chopped carrots
-1 1/2 cup fresh broccoli florets
-1/4 cup shelled peas
-1/2 cup half and half
-2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
-1/3 quick-cooking polenta
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-3 tablespoons butter
-1/3 cup buttermilk
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.
Bring dutch oven or saucepan of water to a boil. Meanwhile, melt one tablespoon of butter to a a separate saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent about 10 to fifteen minutes. Add the garlic scapes and pattypan squash and saute until the scapes become fragrant and the squash just begins to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the flour and stir until it is well distributed. Continue to cook for 2 minutes to cook out the raw flavor. Add the vegetable broth through Season-All and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 3 minutes or until the mixture has thickened, stirring occasionally.
While onion mixture is cooking, prepare the rest of the vegetables beginning with the carrots by adding them individually to the pot of boiling water. Removing them with a sieve once cooked and setting them aside until the onion mixture has thickened.
Once all the vegetables have been cooked, add them to the onion mixture along with the half and half and stir until the half and half is well distributed. Remove from the heat. Divide the mixture among 4 mini pie dishes, individual pie dishes or 12 oz ramekins.
Next, make the Polenta-Parmesan Crumble. Add the remaining all-purpose flour, Parmesan cheese, polenta, baking powder, and salt to a food processor. Blend five seconds. Add remaining butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and drizzle the buttermilk over the top. Stir until the ingredients are evenly moistened.
Distribute the crumble mixture over the individual pot pies. Place them on a sheet pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the crumble topping is lightly golden and the filling is bubbling hot.