Makes a large pie
This is a vegan version of a recipe we saw cooked on The Great British Bake Off 2013. The recipe was created by contestant Ruby Tandoh, who we rooted for as a fellow vegetarian. This is a recipe with real wow factor, as when you cut in to it you are delighted by the colourful neat layers inside. You can see why Ruby chose it as a recipe strong enough to see her through to the final 3! We opted to replace the cheese layers with smoked tofu and vegan cheese, but the original picnic pie recipe can be read here.
This veg and tofu pie is a really special pie, and it takes a bit of time to put together, but it’s well worth the effort! We roasted all of the veg the day before, refrigerated it, and then put it together the following day. The pie can also be baked in advance and kept whole until ready to serve.
You can read more about Ruby and keep up to date with her baking on her blog, Ruby and the Kitchen.
nb. We cheated and used shop bought shortcrust pastry for this, as it is more often than not vegan and made with vegetable fat, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I’m sure it would benefit from a good homemade shortcrust though if you have the time.
For the filling
- 3 romano peppers
- 1 medium aubergine, thinly sliced
- 1 large courgette, thinly sliced
- 2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
- 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 250g smoked tofu
- 150g vegan cheese, sliced
- 150g cous cous
- 200ml boiling water
- 3tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
- Leaves from a small bunch each of fresh oregano and basil, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- We used 2 x 340g rolls of store bought shortcrust
You will need a food processor, a large loaf tin (We used 1.2kg loaf tin, 26cm x 12cm x 10cm) and a few baking sheets.
To make the pie
- Heat your oven to 230°C/450°F/gas 8. We are going to roast the vegetables first and roast them in batches. On one sheet put the red peppers whole with a little olive oil to coat. In a separate tin put the sliced aubergines, again lightly oiled. Roast the peppers for 20-25 minutes and the aubergines for 25-30 minutes, turning once half way through. Remove from the oven once roasted and place on separate plates to cool. Peel the red peppers and quarter.
- Roast the sliced courgette for 20-25 minutes, turning once and leave to cool when done.
- Roast the sliced onion and garlic together with a little olive oil and roast for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned. Leave to cool.
- Prepare the tofu by squeezing out the excess water between paper tools, and then slice in to 1cm slices. Heat a little olive oil in a pan, and brown the tofu for 10 minutes, (5 mins on each side) until browned. Leave to cool.
- Put the cous cous in to a heatproof bowl, and add the boiled water. Cover with a plate and leave to fluff up. Add half the cous cous in to a blender and add the tomato puree, fresh herbs, and seasoning. Whizz gently, then stir back in to the glass bowl with the remaining half the cous cous.
- Now, we didn’t attempt any fancy pastry work like Ruby did, but if you want to attempt to line the pie with a lattice see the original post. Or take enough pastry rolled out to gently line the tin, with some excess left over the sided to roll over and form a trim once filled. This took us 2 attempts!
- Now time to do the filling! Make sure each layer is spread evenly and compactly – press down gently so there are no gaps – and season lightly as you go. Start off with a layer of cous cous on the bottom. Use 1/3rd of the mix. Then add the red peppers, you may have enough to do only one layer, but if you can do two then save some for later. Now add the vegan cheese, sliced, or grate if you prefer. Next is the onion/garlic mix. Don’t forget to add the seasoning between layers! Now add the aubergine layer, and if you have enough, another pepper layer. Add another 3rd of the cous cous, followed by the courgettes and then the tofu. Finish off with the cous cous. Phew!
- We made a lattice for the pie lid, by cutting the pastry in to wide strips and weaving them in and out of each other. I found this easier by doing it on top of the pie, rather than flat and then moving it, but do what works for you. Once on and looking pretty, trim and then use the excess from the base to roll over and form a rim. You may need to use some water to make it stick, and some excess pastry to patch up in places.
- Brush on top with a little non-dairy milk and bake for 70 minutes at 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Check your pie and give it a little more / a little less depending on your oven. We covered the lid with some foil to stop it browning too much after about 40 minutes.
- Remove the pie and leave to cool fully before removing from the tin. Leave it to cool on a windowsill and make sure no one pinches it. Eat at a picnic and watch your friends and family marvel. Happy Summertime!