Recipe & Images: Amber Bremner

There’s nothing more comforting than a pie on a cold winter’s day, and making them yourself is ever so satisfying. A crisp, flaky pastry case breathes new life into pantry ingredients, something that’s more welcome now than ever. I used New Way flaky puff pastry, which is vegan, available from most supermarkets, and was in my freezer during lockdown. You can use the pastry you prefer or make your own regular or gluten free pie crust.

This pie is an umami bomb of seriously savoury flavours—hearty, warming and the closest I’ve come to a traditional meat pie in many a year. I used a 24cm family sized pie tin. You could also use small pie tins or muffin tins to make individual pies or put the filling directly into a casserole and cover just the top with pastry to make a pot pie. Serve with green peas and a squirt of tomato sauce for a dose of retro Kiwiana.

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, sliced
200g mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar, or ¼ cup red wine)
1 can brown lentils, drained
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp marmite
1 tbsp flour
1 cup soy milk + extra (or milk of your choice)
salt and pepper
2–3 sheets of flaky puff pastry

Heat olive oil in a large fry pan over medium heat. Cook onions, stirring often, until deep golden brown (about 15 minutes). Push onions to one side of the pan, then add mushrooms. Once mushrooms have started to brown, season with a pinch or two of salt, then stir to combine with the onions. Add garlic, rosemary, sage, cayenne pepper and a good grind of black pepper, and cook for another few minutes until fragrant.

Add balsamic vinegar to the pan and stir until the liquid has mostly evaporated. Add lentils, tomato paste and marmite, and stir to combine. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of flour over the pan contents and stir to combine. Cook for a few minutes, stirring often. Add 1 cup of soy milk to the pan and stir to combine. Cook for another few minutes, stirring, until the mixture is dark, glossy and thick. The final consistency should be fluid but not runny—like a thick gravy. If the mixture is too thick, add a splash of milk to thin it a little.

Preheat oven to 200°C fan bake. Line a pie tin with pastry and trim the edges. If using pre-rolled pastry sheets and a large pie tin, you may need to patchwork more than one sheet together. Pour the pie filling into the pastry case, lightly moisten the edges of the pastry base, then top with another round of pastry. Use a fork to crimp the edges together. Cut a small hole in the middle of the pastry lid to let out steam. You can also do this with a cookie cutter before you put the top on, as I did. Brush the pastry with soy milk, then bake for 20–25 minutes, until pastry is deep golden brown.

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