Conversation overheard at this week’s football game:
My mom: What did y’all eat for dinner tonight?
Ben: Lentil Pot Pie
My mom: Hmmm, how was that?
Ben: no answer
Mary Polly: Interesting.
Translation: I am a filo dough amateur. My filo crust top on this dish never crisped.
I went with it because it seemed easy, but I wish I had just made a regular pie crust. The result was that everyone decided they loved the filling to this dish, but would rather have had it served over rice instead of baked in a crust.
However, the dish was scraped bare even though the response was mediocre. I think that is because the filling in this nontraditional pot pie is so rich with flavor. It manages to cram hints of the Subcontinent (turmeric, cumin and coriander), flavors of autumn (pumpkin) and the comfort of Southern cooking (any casserole dish with a can of Rotel and a crust on top) all into one recipe.
And therein lies the brilliance of Crescent Dragonwagon’s recipes. You can tell that she has experimented for years and years with the combining of flavors.
And while I am always a curious and even a little wary about how they will taste together, I keep coming back to her cookbooks because I can trust that the end result will be both interesting and delicious.
Curried Lentil Potato Pot Pie with Pumpkin and Tomatoes
adapted from Crescent Dragonwagon’s Passionate Vegetarian
2 cups lentils
6 cups water
2 teaspoons butter or sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped
2 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
pinch of cayenne
dash of cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
4 fist sized potatoes, scrubbed and cut into half inch cubes
1 14 ounce can tomatoes and green chilies (Rotel)
1 can pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
4 sheets filo dough, thawed
2-3 tablespoons melted butter
Bring lentils to boil in water. Turn heat to low and cook 40 minutes, covered.
Heat butter in large dutch oven or heavy bottomed stock pot. Add onion and saute about 3 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and all spices. Cook stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes more or until mustard seeds begin to pop.
When lentils are done, add them to the dutch oven, along with the potatoes. Cook at a low simmer for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are barely tender.
Combine Rotel, pumpkin and maple syrup in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add to Dutch oven when potatoes are done.
Add the vegetable broth. Heat the entire mixture through. Then pour into a greased casserole dish. (Recipe suggests a 15 x 10 x 2.5. I doubled the recipe and filled three 9 x 13’s.)
Lay 1 sheet of filo dough over the filling, brush with one third of the melted butter. Fold in any overhanging edges. Repeat with the remaining filo and butter.
Bake at 400 degrees F until filo is crisp and brown. 35-45 minutes. Serve hot.