January 29, 2024


For our our Burns Night Supper I had planned to make Scotch pies for the main course, which are made with lamb or mutton.  One of the guests eats no red meat, only fish or chicken, so I wondered about making a vegetable version.  I was not sure how well it would hold together so made a large top crust pie instead.  

A common term for this kind of pie nowadays is a "pot pie".  It’s basically a pie filling topped with either shortcrust or flaky pastry.  This one was served with tatties and neeps - mashed potatoes and swede - but normally it would be good with a pile of greens - sprouts, broccoli, cabbage or beans.

The first time I made this pie was about fifty years ago.  I was a student, just married to husband number one, and money was very tight.  I remember it so well because we had asked friends round for dinner, which was my very first dinner party.  We couldn’t afford enough meat of any kind for four people but I had spotted a recipe for vegetable pie in a magazine in a waiting room somewhere.  It was essentially cooked veg in a cheese sauce with a pastry top.

I baked it in the Pyrex pie dish that came in a set with a mixing bowl and jug as a wedding present.  I still have and use the pie dish and bowl.  For this pie I included some broccoli but back then I’m sure I would have used brussels sprouts.  If broccoli had been available it would have seemed far too expensive and exotic.  I would have made the pastry myself from flour and lard as I’m not sure that ready made pastry - even if I could have afforded it - was a thing in the early seventies.  

I also remember that we served grilled grapefruit as a starter and crème caramel for dessert.  Remember those?!


1 pack of ready made, ready rolled shortcrust pastry

1 large carrot 

1 large leek

1 chunk of swede

1 stick of celery 

A few florets of broccoli 

A chunk of broccoli stalk

1 egg, beaten 

For the cheese sauce 

1 heaped dessertspoon of plain flour 

1 large knob of butter 

1 pint of milk 

50g of grated cheese such as cheddar

A pinch of mace or mustard powder 


Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan / gas mk 4.

Peel the carrots and swede and chop into small dice of about 1cm.  Wash and thinly slice the leek and celery.  Trim the broccoli stalk and chop into 1cm dice.

Put all the vegetables apart from the broccoli florets into a large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil.  Cook for 10-15 minutes until cooked but still firm, adding the broccoli florets for the last few minutes so that they don’t get too soft.  Drain the veg and tip back into the pan.

To make the sauce put the flour, butter and about half of the milk into a medium saucepan and bring gently to the boil, whisking all the time until it thickens.  Add enough of the rest of the milk to get the thickness you want, remembering that the cheese will also thicken it up slightly.  You should aim for a "coating" consistency, i.e. a bit thicker than "pouring " and not too runny.  Add the cheese and spice, and a little more milk if needed.  It’s easier to thin the sauce by adding more milk than to thicken it up if it’s too thin!

Add the sauce to the veg, season with salt and pepper and stir well until the veg are all coated.  Tip into a suitable pie dish, top with the pastry and decorate with leaves made from the trimmings.  Make a hole in the middle to let out the steam, plus a few around the edge, brush with beaten egg and bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.  Rest for a few minutes before serving.

Cuts into 6 generous servings.


  1. There's nothing wrong with the idea of a veg pie revival if that pie's on offer. I do remember knocking together various sorts of veg pie and stews back in the 1970s whenever meat was too costly and , for some reason, it often involved cheap Red Leicester. But it was more often topped with mashed potato mainly because it was quicker than pastry, if memory serves. I'm not sure that I could face a grilled grapefruit with that strange sugar topping these days but I'd eat a good crème caramel any day of the week.

    1. Grilled grapefruit is definitely a throw back that I don't feel compelled to revive but crème caramel is a timeless delight.