History reveals that pot pies made their first appearance in the royal courts of the Middle Ages and they have been wildly popular fare ever since. Swanson made its first frozen chicken pot pie in 1951 and moments later it went into heavy rotation in my mother's meal repertoire. For my money, nothing says "comfort food" quite like a pot pie.
With all due respect to Swanson and their products, I love homemade pot pies. Each cook has her own interpretation, likely passed down from generations before. Like snowflakes, each pot pie recipe is different.
An aside: It's called a Chicken Pot Pie. There is obviously chicken involved and it is, in fact, baked in a pie. As for the second ingredient, I've seen little or no evidence of it's presence in any of the dishes I've tasted. Worth pondering? I believe it is.
But I digress. Among many other lovely vegetables, this week's CSA farmshare included, as you might expect, an abundance of summer squash, as well as a small bag of basil and a head of garlic. And I had an almost-full jar of marinara sauce in the fridge needing to be used. Who knows how I came to think about pot pies, but I did and thought I should try...
Pizza Pot Pie - Veggie Style
With relatively low expectations, I took less than half an hour and pulled it together with these ingredients:
2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 medium summer squash, quartered and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
1 20 oz jar marinara sauce
1 cup Cabot mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup Cabot 50% Reduced Fat cheddar, shredded
1 box ready-made pie crust (2 per box)
I preheated the oven to 400º and brought the pie crusts to room temperature, then I put first crust in a deep dish pie plate and covered the bottom of the crust with shredded mozzarella.
Meanwhile, I heated olive oil in large saute pan then added onions, mushrooms, garlic, and squash. I cooked it over medium heat until softened, 8 - 10 minutes. (I had a bit of good red wine left over from the night before and added that, too. This is completely optional...but adds a very nice flavor and depth.)
To the softened veggies, I added the marinara sauce and let that simmer for about 15 minutes on a low heat.
I let the sauce mixture cool a while before adding it to the crust covered with the mozzarella.
Before adding the top crust, I sprinkled the cheddar cheese on top of the filling. Then I finished constructing the pie with the second crust.
Into the oven it went and 40 minutes later it came out, crust golden brown and sauce bubbling in a couple of places where it had escaped the bounds of the pie crust. (I would definitely advocate for a pie guard, like the one you see under the pie above or a cookie sheet to protect your oven.)
"How did your experiment in comfort food turn out?" you might ask. Reader, it was delightful. The crust was light and still flakey, not soggy from the sauce. This turned out to be easy to make and lends itself to all kinds of variations. Meat eaters can add ground beef, chicken, or turkey. Chopped bacon, pepperoni, or pancetta would also be delicious. As for veggies, you can use as many or as few as you like, and any variety that strikes you fancy. The same goes for cheese. Cheddar, mozzarella, jack, provolone -- it's all going to taste pretty darn good in Pizza Pot Pie.