The first time I made this recipe was for my first Christmas in London. Actually, I’m pretty sure my then-boyfriend now-husband made it while I sipped rum and eggnog by the boarded-over fireplace. That was in 1998.
The original recipe was from an issue of BBC Vegetarian magazine. By the time we needed it again the next year, the issue had been lost. So each year since then, we’ve relied on our increasingly fuzzy memory of the original to recreate this rich sweet and savory pie. After almost 15 years of making it, it has changed sufficiently that I feel I can safely call this one my own (but if anyone should stumble upon the original, I’d love to see it!).
This recipe is dedicated to The Sporkful guys, who claimed on The Madeleine Brand show that vegetarians don’t really want a centerpiece for our holiday dinners. According to them, we just want to fill up on salads and veggie sides during the holidays. Um, no.
This Pear and Chestnut Holiday Pie is an ideal meatless centerpiece for your holiday meal.
For The Pie Crust
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
¾ cup Earth Balance or other veggie shortening
3 to 4 tbsp ice water
1 tsp dried thyme
a little sea salt
For The Filling
2 tbsp olive oil
6 medium shallots, halved
3 celery stalks, cut into big chunks
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium pears, peeled or not (as you wish), cut into sixths
I usually use unripe pears (no planning ahead needed) but ripe pears are fine too.
10 stoned prunes, halved
1 cup whole canned chestnuts
Chestnuts can be pretty hard to find, especially when it’s not holiday season. If you can’t find them, I think this would work well with walnut halves. Let me know if you try it.
2 leaves sage
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cups veggie broth (make your own from garbage!)
1 tbsp corn starch
salt and pepper to taste
Make The Pie Crust
Start with the pie crust, since the dough needs to cool in the fridge for a while after you mix it.
When I made the crust for this last time I severely jacked it up. I wish I’d followed these instructions I found later. Just use the ingredients listed above and the method at this link and your crust will be beautiful.
You’re only making a top pie crust, there’s no bottom crust here.
Make The Filling
While your pie crust is chillin’, heat olive oil in a large saucepan on medium high heat.
Add shallots and celery. Reduce heat to medium.
Saute for 4 or 5 minutes, until veggies are starting to turn slightly transparent and are browning a bit.
Add unripe pears and garlic. If your pears are ripe, add them at the same time as the broth.
Saute for about 5 minutes more, until pears are starting to get soft and slightly brown.
Add dates and chestnuts.
Saute for 1 or 2 minutes more.
Add broth, sage, thyme and bay leaf. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.
Turn down to low heat, stir, and let simmer for 20 minutes or until veggies are soft.
Remove a half cup of broth from the stew and add a little cold water to it.
Stir the corn starch into the broth until it has all dissolved.
Mix it back into the stew and let simmer for about another five minutes until the sauce is thick.
Put It All Together
Turn on oven to 425 F.
Roll out the pastry dough on a well floured counter.
Spoon the stew into an 8” round pie plate, pressing down slightly to make it flat on top.
Place dough on top.
Press down the edges and trim excess crust. Use the excess to make a fancy lattice on your pie if you want.
Cut a couple of small slits in the center of the crust to let steam escape.
Stick the pie in the oven for 30 minutes or until crust is golden.
Tip: Put a tray under the pie to catch any stew that boils over.
- Serve with mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts and all your usual holiday sides, or just eat on its own as a hearty, tasty stew.
- This seems like the perfect dish to be made in individual pot pie containers. If you have some, use ‘em. I’d love to see the results.
What are you eating this holiday season? Please share your favorite dishes! Maybe after 15 years we’ll finally try something new.