I have a feeling that the reason most vegan blogs exist with their normal, pretty food, is to overcome the cultural burden of lentil loaf. The 70s were a weird time for all of us (I personally found non-existence very weird), and the vegetarian food was… not so great maybe.
Of course, that isn’t universally true, which is why I have a recipe for you now. It’s inspired by a cookbook I stole from my dad: The Vegetarian Epicure. No you cannot have it back, Dad.
In the book this recipe is referred to as Russian Vegetable Pie, which makes sense if you’re familiar with cabbage kulebyaka (coulibiac), but not super informative if you’re not. So, I will be calling this cabbage and mushroom pie, because that’s pretty much what it is when you veganize it. Don’t worry, it’s still insanely tasty for a thing of such few and humble ingredients.
Cabbage and Mushroom Pie
- 2 c flour
- 2 tsp salt (or 1 tsp if you use margarine as your fat)
- 2/3 c shortening or margarine
- ice water
- 1 small green cabbage, shredded thicker than cole slaw
- 1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 1/2 pints of crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tsp each dry marjoram, tarragon, and basil
- fake cream cheese (homemade is fine here, but reduce the lemon in that recipe)
- salt n’ peppa
Mix the dry ingredients for the crust and put them and your solid fat into the freezer. Like biscuits, pie crust turns out a billion times better when the ingredients are cold. Pull your cream cheese out of the fridge to warm up for later. Then, start cooking the onions with margarine in a really big pan (you will be adding ALL the cabbage later).
While the onions are going, chop the rest of your vegetables. When the onions are getting brown, turn the heat up a bit, dump the cabbage on top, stir, and cover. This is by far the most awkward part of the whole affair. You have to soften the cabbage most of the way (until it’s starting to turn yellow), stirring occasionally. You are virtually guaranteed to flip cabbage all over your stove. Deep breaths, it’s part of the process. Now, set your oven to 425 F / 220 C.
At this point, get those mushrooms fryin’. When you cook them, do them with oil and don’t add them to the pan until it’s way hot. Don’t overcrowd the pan either, or your mushrooms will be soggy and less awesome. I will be impressed if you own a pan big enough to handle all of them at once.
Once everything is cooked, toss it into a large bowl and add salt, pepper, marjoram, tarragon, and basil. Salt it to taste, just keep in mind that how it tastes now is pretty much how it’s going to taste when it comes out (so don’t be shy with seasoning).
Now crust. Using a fork, knife, pastry cutter, or food processor–but not your warm-ass hands–mix your cold solid fat into the dry ingredients. You’re aiming for chunks of shortening that are pea to dime sized, so not fully incorporated. Add small amounts of cold water (a tbsp or two at a time) to the flour mixture while gently stirring with a spoon until everything starts to clump together. Once it’s sticking together (not sticky, but err on the side of too wet for ease of use reasons), separate it into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. You’re going to roll the larger one out for the bottom crust.
Flour a surface well and get your rolling pin ready. If you don’t have one, a cleaned wine bottle works fine, and I know you have one of those. Flour the top of the dough, then roll it out until it’s a circle about one inch larger all the way around than the top of your pie pan (just hold it upside down over the dough and eyeball it). Roll the dough onto your rolling pin like a fruit roll up, then unroll it into your pan. Don’t worry if it falls to pieces during this, just press them together in the pan. It won’t make a lick of difference because it’s all going to the same place, as they say.
Smear the inside of the pie (bottom only) with 1/2 an inch of cream cheese. Dump the mushroom, cabbage, and onion mixture into the pie. Flour and roll out the top crust and put it on your pie. Pinch the crusts together, poke some holes on top, and pop that baby in the oven. Your pie, I mean.
Bake it for about 30 minutes, starting at 425 F / 220 C then turning it down to 400 F / 205 C after 15 minutes. The filling is mostly cooked already, so you’re really just looking for the crust to be browned and lovely. Then you eat it. That’s pretty much how these things work.