Alison Boston, Baking, Recipes, Vegetarian

Vegetarian Tourtiere


Meatless Tourtieres filled with mushrooms, turnip and rice. 

Vegetarian Tourtiere

What!? There’s no such thing! You can’t have tourtiere without minced meat. YES YOU CAN! I made it purely by accident, as with most amazing things, and it stands up to taste-testing by meat-eaters.

Thing is, not sure I’ll ever be able to accurately recreate it as it included left overs that others had cooked.  I’ll tell you what I used, and what I think they used – and then  you can experiment and adjust to taste, and let us know what you did in the comments.

20171225_120300Blame it on Phyllo

It all started with a package of frozen phyllo pastry. I buy one or two a year. Always one at Christmas.  Never know what’ll go in it, just love the stuff and no matter what, it pretty well always tastes good!

Here’s what went in this year:

  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, warmed in a large wok or skillet, over medium heat.
  • 1 smallish yellow onion, diced.
  • 400 grams sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 250 grams sliced yellow turnip
  • A little salt n’ pepper (to be safe, start with about 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper)

Turn up the heat a bit, and sauté all together until the onions are cooked, and the mushrooms and turnips are hot enough to continue cooking at a lower temperature, then turn it down to medium-low, cover, and let it simmer till the turnips are cooked. Don’t fret! It won’t burn. The turnips release LOTS OF WATER as they cook.

Improvising Ingredients

Hmmm, what else is hanging around that can give it a bit more flavor?  I poke around in the fridge and pull out a plastic container with about 3/4-1 cup, loosely packed salad, left over from a fundraiser for the Kalmo Refugee Support Group.  I’d been fasting that evening, so hadn’t eaten anything at the event.  But the food looked and smelled so good, so made a donation and brought some home!

The salad was a pretty straight-forward mix of finely chopped raw veg with a very few chickpeas.  No spices, and no dressing (that had been optional). The pieces of veg diced no larger than a chickpea!

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet red pepper
  • Parsley
  • Carrots

I stirred it in, tasted it and decided it needed more spices.  But wait a minute…I was going to cook some rice…How about just use that already-cooked rice from the fundraiser? Toss it in now, let it simmer awhile, then think about more spices…

Changin’ it up with Somali Rice!

I had planned to cook some sticky, short-grain, brown rice to mix with the mushrooms and turnip, then make a vegetarian phyllo roll.  The rice from the event was long grain basmati.  There were no bits of veggie in it – just a very few raisins and even fewer bits of onion – and an absolutely, uniquely spiced flavor!  I’d never tasted anything like it ANYWHERE!

It was also unusually sticky for long-grain basmati rice.  It had probably been cooked with very little water, in the Spanish paella style.   I found a Somali rice recipe.  It calls for pre-soaking the rice, then adding the water and rice to spices cooked in olive oil or ghee. Water released from the turnips during cooking makes it really juicy, so you could possibly add uncooked rice, with 1/4-1/2 the usual water.  Go ahead, experiment! 

Here’s the spices from that recipe for 2 cups of uncooked rice.  Remember tho, I only used a cup of densely packed cooked rice, so you’ll need to adjust quantities according to how much rice you cook!

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After simmering for about 30 minutes, a taste-test gave sage advice, calling for a few crumbled leaves of dried sage.
      • 1 large chopped onion
      • I cinnamon stick
      • 5 cloves
      • 4 cardamom pods
      • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
      • 3 cloves of garlic or 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
      • 4 tablespoons of olive oil or subag (ghee)
      •  a few crumbled leaves of dried sage.

That simmered for about an hour, then I let it stand overnight. The next morning a taste test said: Wow, this would make amazing tourtiere or sausage rolls.

Build Your Pie20171226_141204

This pie is built from sausage rolls! You need to make sausage rolls long enough so they will meet in the centre, when placed like spokes in your pie dish, then shorter ones to fill in the gaps!

20171226_141049Make your Sausage Rolls

Cut your phyllo the right width to make your sausage rolls the right length.   I actually tore my sheets in half, then folded each half in half, laid my formed filling on it, laid a small strip of swiss gruyere cheese along the top of the filling, and rolled it up, finishing with the cheese side on top.  I made eight long sausage rolls, and eight shorter ones.

20171226_141014Then place your sausage rolls like spokes in the prepared dish. There will be gaps between your sausage rolls. Fill these gaps with the shorter sausage rolls, then cover the whole thing with a couple layers of buttered phyllo.

Bake at 400F until pastry is nicely browned. About 30-40 minutes. Serve warm with your favorite seasonal condiments!

Here’s the finished pie!

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Meatless Tourtiere filled with mushrooms, turnips and rice. 
Alison Boston, Food, Recipes, Vegetarian

Turnip Pie the Spanish-Way (not)

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Is it a Frittata? An Omlette? Or a Quiche? It’s a Tortilla Española!
The Italian call it a frittata – but they don’t make it the same way. They add the eggs to other ingredients when they are still in the pan. The Spanish way requires that you remove the other ingredients from the pan and mix them with the eggs, then add it all back in. Trust me, it makes a difference. When you add the other other ingredients to the beaten eggs and mix it, and let it stand, it makes for a creamy pie rather than an egg pie.

I was invited to a multi-national potluck supper, and was brain dead with what to make.  When that happens, I usually fall back on Spanish Tortilla de Patates, but I had yellow turnips in my fridge – not potatoes.  I’ve been on a bit of a fried turnip kick, so thought I’d try a turnip tortilla.  But alas, I only had 2 eggs.

Now a good Spanish grandma, who’s been making tortilla de patates since she could walk, can make a great tortilla de patates with 2 eggs, but not me. So seeing as I was already breaking tradition by using turnips, I thought I’d try mixing in a little half ‘n’ half cream, and goji berries.  The result was well received by Babel Lounge hosts and guests alike, and I was told: “You should write down that recipe.”  So here it is!

  • Peel and slice your yellow turnips. I used 4 smallish ones: each about 3-4 inches in diameter, or about the size of one of those huge navel oranges.  If you have it, use a mandoline to slice them so they are fairly consistent in thickness. You want them about 1/8 -1/4 inch thick.
  • Over medium heat, melt about 1/4 cup of coconut oil in a 6-8 inch frying pan.
  • Add your turnips, and cook till tender. You must stand over this pan, and pay attention, and turn the turnips often so they cook evenly and don’t burn. I cooked mine 3 batches.
  • As they cook put them in something to drain. I used a metal colander.  When they are all cooked, and all drained, add your drained coconut oil back into the frypan.
  • Beat 2 eggs with
  • 1/4 cup of half ‘n’ half cream in a bowl large enough to hold all your turnips, then add the turnips and mix it all together with
  • A little salt ‘n’ pepper (to taste) and a
  • couple Tablespoons of Chia seeds.
  • Take 1 small yellow onion and chop it up, then fry it till tender in the coconut oil.  Add the cooked onion to the egg, cream and turnip mixture and leave it sit for a while.  Some Spanish have told me the longer you let it sit, the better.  I let this sit for about an hour, because I really wanted to chia seeds to plump up. 

Your turnips are now ready to make your pie.

Reheat the 8-inch skillet with the coconut oil (you need a couple tablespoons oil in the pan), and add the turnip mixture.  It should be a couple inches thick. Depends on how many turnips you used. You are making a very thick sort-of omelette, or quiche-like dish.

  • Let it cook: Okay, so your eggs ‘n’ turnips are cooking – now you can reduce the heat, put a lid on it and go away for a few minutes.  But don’t go far.  Wash a few dishes or something.  You don’t want it to burn.
  • Check it: by taking the lid off and looking at it and picking up the pan and tipping it. Is it starting to solidify?  Is the top of it no longer wet and shiny?
  • Flip it: The trickiest part of making your tortilla is coming up. This is when you flip it. It has to be cooked the right amount when you do this or it will all fall apart.  So when you think it’s ready, put a flat plate on top of your pan, and turn it upside down.  The bottom of your tortilla should be the same shape as the pan – and it should hold that shape. Then you slide it off the plate back into the pan – only now what was the top, is now on bottom, and cooking from that side.
  • Cook it: It doesn’t need to cook much longer, just a few minutes, then you can put the plate back on top and tip it out – and voila, you have Spanish Tortilla de Turnips!
  • Serve it: I garnished mine with fresh green pea shoots. My hostess said it looked like a Christmas wreath.