Veg Box Newsletter 12th September: Pie

In the Veg Boxes This Week

Subject to last minute changes

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The Nice Bit

I wrote recently about fritters, which are diverse and useful, a great trick for turning an uninspiring veg into something delicious. Here’s another: a pie. 

I know there is great debate about what a pie is, but I think that ambiguity is a great sign of strength. I think here of everyone’s second favourite food writer* Jonathan Nunn’s declaration that samosas are dumplings, or, better, that “it doesn’t matter if samosas are dumplings or dumplings are samosas. To compare them diminishes neither, but only elevates them in solidarity to highest possible form of food.” Dumplings, you see, are either dense or fluffy balls of fried or steamed or boiled dough or a filling encapsulated in thick or thin dough, steamed, boiled, fried or baked. It is less important that the dumpling looks like another dumpling than that it has the same dumpling vibe, a small rounded shape of delicious comfort. Similarly, pies are anything where a filling meets pastry somehow: it can be enclosed by it (in which case we come to a dumplingish zone of samosas and pasties), it can be capped by it, or it can rest upon it. 

The vibe of the pie is very different from that of the dumpling. Where a dumpling is something one sensible adult person will eat several of in a sitting, a pie will generally feed at least four. When dumplings are shared, it is some number of them we divide; pies are cut down the middle into triangles. Pies are always the main event, never a side dish- they represent some effort of the home cook, a domestic triumph, maybe a loving gesture. They are comforting, as dumplings are, but somehow differently comforting. They generally have a great deal of contrast going on: crisp pastry, soft filling. They are nostalgic, universal. 

Quick, before I get carried away on a tide of vague praise, some recipes to turn your veg box contents into pie: 

Pizza rustica, featuring kale. Cauliflower cheese filo pieRoasted squash and feta pieTomato galette. Greek kohlrabi pie. Chard, lemon and cheese pieCornish pasties (with swede!)Mushroom and courgette rice pieRoasted vegetable quiche.

And for afters, my very favourite recipe for apple pie

*His frequent collaborator Ruby Tandoh rests securely in the number one slot.