Most of the time I plan my dinner menus in the beginning of the week. I collect links for recipes I want to make, and page through cookbooks, and then make a shopping list. There aren’t many surprises later in the week, since I’ve already planned. But occasionally I get a craving for something, and veer off my plan. Last week, for reasons I can’t explain, I suddenly decided I wanted Cauliflower Curry Pie. Unfortunately, googling around I wasn’t able to find a recipe that came anywhere close to approximating what I was imagining.
Molly Katzen has a recipe for cauliflower pie in the Moosewood Cookbook, but it has a potato crust, and isn’t curried at all. I had just received a gorgeous pie plate, and was itching to use it. It had to be pie, and though I do love a potato crust in this case I wanted a classic savory pie crust.
So, I was forced to make up my own recipe, and I forced the results on my step-daughter, a semi-picky eater who, at 5, is generally skeptical of all vegetables, but is solidly pro-pie. The results were an enormous success. The crust came out perfectly, and the curry was a savory, mildly spicy vegetable medley that I think I’ll probably make again soon, even without the pie surrounding it. Though this recipe involved a bit more work than I’d typically put into a weeknight meal, it was totally worth it, and I’m definitely going to add it to my Shabbat and holiday menus. If you want to cut down on the time and/or you’re pastry phobic, you can use store bought crust.
2 sticks butter, cold, cut into cubes
7-8 Tablespoons ice water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ¾ cups flour (I bet you could integrate some whole wheat flour, but I didn't try this time)
1 large onion (red onion works fine), chopped
2-4 Tablespoons olive oil (use your judgement)
1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated
2 Tablespoons mild curry
pinch garam masala (optional)
1 can coconut milk
1 can diced tomatoes
1 head cauliflower, chopped
2-3 small potatoes, diced
1 8oz box frozen spinach
salt and pepper, to taste
milk to brush on top
parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
Put the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor. Drop the butter cubes into the flour mixture and hit the pulse button. Once all the butter is in the mixture should look like white gravel. Add 6 Tablespoons of the ice water, and run the food processor until a dough forms. If it still seems too dry, add another tablespoon or two of ice water.
Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead with a sprinkling more of flour. Divide into two hunks and shape into hockey pucks. Wrap in wax paper and stick in the fridge for at least half an hour. If making the dough more than a day before the curry, wrap in plastic wrap.
While the dough is chilling, make the curry. Fry the chopped onion in the oil for 5-10 minutes until onions are beginning to soften. Then add the ginger, curry, and garam masala and fry for another 2-3 minutes until it becomes fragrant. Add the coconut milk, tomatoes, cauliflower and potatoes and simmer. Add the frozen spinach (no need to have it defrosted, though that won't hurt) by just plopping the square of frozen spinach in the middle of the pan. Cover and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, at which point the potatoes and cauliflower should be tender, and cooked through. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as desired. Turn off heat.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Remove the pie dough from the fridge, and roll one of the hockey pucks out on a floured surface. Roll it pretty thin, and then place in the bottom of a pie plate, allowing whatever extra to spill over the sides. Using a slotted spoon, fill crust with cauliflower curry. Leave leftover liquid in pan, so you're left with a moist but not runny curry. Roll out the second hockey puck, and place on top of the curry. Press together the edges of the top and bottom crust, using a fork to crimp the edges together.
Brush the top of the pie with milk, and then make vents in the crust—I like to do this by writing a secret message, and this time my step-daughter requested that the pie say I'm Hungry, so that's what I wrote.
Bake at 400F for 40 minutes, or until golden on top. Sprinkle with parmesan, if desired. The pie is amazing when fresh from the oven, but is also surprisingly good when served cold, as lunch the next day.