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A few years ago I made this savory work of art for my houseguests.
While gathering the ingredients, I worried a bit if I had perhaps taken on too much for a first-time dish, for first-time guests. However, once I started wrapping the vegetable strips, selecting the vibrant hues, one after another, to create a nourishing meal that is as beautiful to look at as to eat, I found my meditation.
I’ll confess this up front: I’m not a recipe follower. I usually see something that looks good and just go about recreating it. The same with tastes. If I eat a particularly delicious meal, I savor each bite while trying to discern the ingredients, spices, and cooking techniques needed to get to that taste and texture.
This savory spiral pie has the same backstory. I saw it on Pinterest or some random blog one day and made a mental note: OMG! Some of the images I saw looked pretty, but I also wanted mine to taste good, so I used a creamy sauce that I use for other similar vegetable and pasta dishes.
This is freestyle baking—there are no rules.
I’m also a vegetarian, so the following recipe is what I used, and at the bottom of the page I’ve added some vegan options. Basically, there’s no one right way to make this, but there is a right way to cut it: have a very sharp knife and let it cool for about 15 minutes after taking it out of the oven. It also reheats nicely—in a very hot oven so the crust gets crispy again.
So enough of the blah-blah. Here’s that recipe:
For the pie crust like the one in the image, I was lazy and used puff pastry. Piecing the layers together to fit the pan by using the tines of a fork to make a hashtag design where they overlap.
Any pie crust will work here: homemade, prepackaged, no crust. If you’re low-carb or Keto, consider making one out of grated raw cauliflower, olive oil, and cheese.
For all crusts, as this will have a creamy base, it’s best to blind-bake (prebake) the crust for at least 10 minutes in a preheated oven.
I used what was seasonally available for winter in my area, and chose the vegetables that would be the most colorful after baking for the full spiral effect. Raw beets, zucchini, carrots, eggplant, potatoes, steamed spinach, and squash or pumpkin. Red and green peppers would go well, too.
For the amount of each vegetable to use, depending on the size and length of your vegetables, one or three of each variety is more than enough.
Using a Swiss-style peeler or mandoline grater, slice the raw veggies and prepare in piles. For the spinach, I prefer to use steamed spinach and fold over or gather the strips into the spiral.
Tip: the thinner you can get the vegetable slices, the easier it will be to cut and serve later.
Begin the spiral from the center—using the most colorful vegetable slice first, or the one that bends the best. Holding that first veggie slice, make one “very tight” spiral and then start wrapping the next vegetable, alternating colors as you go. Once the spiral is too large to hold easily, lay it flat on the prebaked crust and continue wrapping the veggie slices around until complete.
For the sauce:
This can be made with any number of sauces. Simple olive oil and garlic, cream sauce, vegan cashew cream sauce*, pesto, mushroom cream, cheese sauce, or really anything your taste desires.
For this one in this photo, I used a simple cream sauce with extra virgin olive oil, fresh cream, garlic, vegetable bouillon, spicy flaked red peppers, black pepper, dried mint, and goat cheese.
Take small spoonfuls of goat cheese and slip it in between some of the layers. A little goes a long way.
Then in a separate bowl, dissolve the vegetable bouillon and spices in the olive oil, and add the cream. Whisk together and pour over the top of the entire pie. Jiggle the pan a bit to get the cream down into the layers. The goal is to just add enough liquid to get in between the layers, not too much that it drowns out the spiral pattern, or that it becomes soupy when serving. As there are no eggs added to this sauce, a little less is best. Add one egg if you’d like a more quiche-like consistency.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes at 350°F (180°C) in a preheated oven. If the pie crust is getting too brown, wrap the edges with foil or place a sheet of baking paper over the top.
Intermission: While your delicious artistic masterpiece is baking, take a few minutes to reward yourself. Set your kitchen timer and spend the next 30 minutes journaling, practicing Ujjayi breathing, dance in your socks on the kitchen floor, or FaceTime your bestie.
After removing from the oven, allow the pie to sit for 10-15 minutes before cutting. A sharp knife is your best friend for this one.
Use olive oil, garlic, and spices to taste as the “sauce.”
Vegan crusts can be made with olive oil or vegan margarine.
*Vegan Cashew Cream Sauce:
1.5 cups of raw cashew nuts (soaked overnight, strain the water after)
1-2 cloves of garlic
Juice of half a lemon
⅓ cup of water
A pinch of sea salt and black pepper
Any other spices to taste (I add red pepper flakes, dried mint, and a bit of vegetable bouillon)
Add 1-2 Tbsp of nutritional yeast if you want a “cheese” flavor.
Mix all in a blender or mixer and add to the recipe above instead of the dairy version.