Whenever I want to make a dish look festive or impressive I turn it into a pot pie. It’s a super easy way to upgrade your ordinary curries, stews and lentil soups. For this Christmas menu I decided to upgrade one of my favourite vegetarian stews: Caponata. I think the sweet and sour flavour and the meaty texture make the dish super addictive and comforting. You can make the filling a day or two in advance, which takes away a bit of kitchen stress on Christmas eve.
- 2 medium aubergines (egg plants), in 2cm cubes
- 3 sticks of celery, chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 100 gr. Black olives, pitted
- 3 tablespoons of capers
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1/3 cup of raisins
- small bunch of fresh thyme
- bunch of fresh parsley
- ¼ cup pine nuts (slightly toasted in a dry skillet)
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon (or to taste) of cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or to taste)
- 2 cans of diced tomatoes
- ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoon of olive oil for sautéing
- 250 gr store bought puff pastry (roll or square sheets)
My local health food store sells delicious puff pastry that is vegan and whole wheat. But any puff pastry you can get your hands on works.
Optional: you can make an egg wash to make your pie look shiny. Just beat one egg with one or two tablespoons of water.
Place the aubergine cubes in a sieve or colander and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Give them a rub and put aside for at least one hour. Rinse the aubergines and squeeze to get rid of most of the liquid. Dry with a clean tea towel.
Preheat the oven at 200C/390F
Heat up some olive oil in a large pot and sauté the onions, garlic, carrots and celery until soft and translucent. Add the aubergines and cook for five more minutes. You can add some salt now to help your veggies to soften up even more. Add fresh thyme leaves, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, canned tomatoes and stir well. At this point you can also add maple syrup and vinegar which will create that signature sweet and sour taste. Finally add some freshly chopped parsley, raisins, pine nuts, olives and capers. Cook the stew for another ten minutes at medium low heat with, lid on.
Turn off the heat. Transfer the stew to an oven proof dish or pie dish. Roll out the puff pastry to match the size of your dish and cover the stew with the pastry. Press the edges of the pastry to the dish to seal the pie. Make some holes with a knife to help the steam to escape and prevent the pastry from getting soggy.
Use the left over puff pastry to decorate the pie. I like to use a cookie cutter to make cute shapes. Brush the pastry with egg wash. I love to sprinkle a few pine nuts on top. Bake the pie for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
The pie is now ready and is most delicious when it’s still hot.