Food & Drink, Recipes

The Great Canadian Food Adventure: Vegetable pot pie

I’m a great lover of all things potato. It’s a trait I inherited from my grandmother. She’s the only person I know who craves potatoes more than I do. Baked. Mashed. Fries. Roasted. Soups. Stews. The options are endless. The other day at the market I picked up a few Russet potatoes, but when I got them home I wasn’t sure what to make with them. Soup? Salad? Poutine?! And then it hit me: Gardener’s pie! It’s the vegetarian version of Sheppard’s pie, and it has that lovely mashed potato topping. But then I thought, what about a gardener’s pie in an actual pie crust! Vegetablegardnerpotpie! Yum! It’s filling. It’s delicious. It’s an all in one meal that serves up even better the next day. And afterward the house smelled like pie crust and mashed potatoes! Win win win!

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Fun Fact of the Day: Potatoes are grown in every province in Canada. P.E.I. leads the way, and the country’s smallest province is Canada’s biggest producer with more than a billion kilograms annually. That’s a full one-third of all the potatoes grown in Canada!



  • Five large Russet potatoes
  • Five large carrots
  • Two red peppers
  • One medium white onion
  • Two cloves garlic
  • One can black beans (or you can soak and cook a cup of dry black beans)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of milk (or more, depending on how you like your mashed potatoes)
  • pie crust (bottom only)

For the vegetable filling, potatoes, carrots, peppers and onion were all I had in the house. But you can use any vegetables you want. I’ve made this with peas, corn, chick peas and even some broccoli. This is a great I’ve-got-tons-of-veggies-in-the-fridge-about-to-go-bad-so-I-might-as-well-make-a-big-pie-out-of-them kind of recipe.


  1. Wash, scrub and clean all your veggies. I left the skins on my carrots and potatoes, but that’s ’cause I’ like them that way. You don’t have to.
  2. Chop one potato, carrots, peppers and other vegetables into a medium-sized dice.
  3. Chop remaining four potatoes into larger cubes.
  4. Put  4 cups of water to boil in a large pot with a pinch of salt. When water is boiling, add large cubes of potatoes and cook for 10-12 minutes until soft and ready for mashing.
  5. Drain, mash and add butter and milk, as well as salt and pepper to taste. Set mashed potatoes aside.
  6. Heat olive oil in a skillet or pan on medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sautée until translucent.
  7. Add the chopped carrots and sautée another couple minutes. Careful not to let onions and garlic burn. Turn down heat if necessary.
  8. Add remaining small chopped potatoes and other vegetables. Sautée about five minutes.
  9. Add flour, making sure all vegetable are coated.
  10. Add tomato paste and broth. Let vegetables simmer about 12-15 minutes until broth/tomato paste/flour has turned into a thick-ish sauce and vegetables are 85% cooked (they’ll finish cooking in the oven.)
  11. Add black beans and spices. Toss mixture well.
  12. Take off heat and let cool. In the mean time, preheat oven to 375F.
  13. When filling is cooled, line a baking dish with pie crust. Here, you can make your own pie crust or use store bought. Whatever you fancy. I made a variation of this one from Delia Smith, and substituted vegetable oil for the lard. And because I had so much filling, I used a large rectangular baking dish, instead of a round pie dish. No one ever said pie had to be round!
  14. Fill with vegetable mixture. Top with mashed potatoes. I topped with some sprinkled corn meal to give it a bit of added crunch.
  15. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes until potatoes have a nice golden crisp to the peaks.
  16. Remove, and now — very important! — let cool a few minutes before cutting in. As tempting as it is to chop it up right away, it needs a few minutes to help settle, or it will all fall apart when you cut in!
  17. Enjoy!


Paolo Zinatelli is a writer for Spectator Tribune. Follow him at: @paoloz5