Meatless Monday: Fennel and Mushroom Pie

Main Courses, Meatless, Pie, Spring / Monday, March 21st, 2011

Sometimes, I totally miss the point.

Exhibit A, the conversation I had with Jeff this morning:

Jeff: Hey, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that crack in your windshield.

Me: I KNOW! Doesn’t it look just like the crack in the wall on Dr. Who?!? (Silence.) The crack on Amy’s wall. The crack in the universe.

Jeff: I was just going to say we needed to get it fixed.

Exhibit B, the POINT of the “Green Market Baking Book” is that it’s dedicated to showing you how to bake using natural sweeteners, like maple syrup and honey, instead of refined sugar, corn syrup and artificial sugar products. So, I really should have taken my review copy, found an interesting dessert recipe (like the Spring Carrot Teacakes with Maple Cream Frosting on page 44) and tested it.

Instead, I immediately went for the Fennel and Mushroom Pie.

Don’t let the idea that fennel tastes like licorice steer you away from trying it. Like an onion, fennel mellows as it cooks, becoming softer and sweeter. It’s a perfect complement to earthy flavors, like roasted root vegetables or the mushrooms and new potatoes in this pie.

The pie has no crust. Instead, you build it with layers of cooked spring vegetables, herbs and cheese: bread crumbs first, then a layer of mushrooms sauteed with garlic and onions, a layer of boiled fennel and carrot, a sprinkling of parsley and basil, big handfuls of mozzarella and cheddar cheese, and a layer of new potatoes mashed with milk and butter. Repeat the layers, finishing with the potatoes on top.

It’s a great alternative for people like me who like the idea of a quiche or a frittata but don’t want something that eggy.

Feel free to experiment with layers of your favorite vegetables and cheeses. Spinach and Parmesan. Asparagus and Swiss. Zucchini and goat cheese. Cabbage. Cauliflower. Leeks. Roasted red pepper. This pie is so free-form, you could even use leftovers.

The vegetable layers require several pots, so you might want to make this pie on Sunday for your Meatless Monday meal. Like most one-dish meals, it’s better on the second day, so making it ahead is a total win.

Plus, it gives you time to have the windshield crack in the universe repaired. Seriously, it’s UNCANNY.

Fennel and Mushroom Pie

Courtesy of Laura C. Martin’s “Green Market Baking Book”

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 pound new potatoes, scrubbed and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 fennel bulb, roughly cut
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons light olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (gluten-free variation: use rolled oats or 1/3 cup finely chopped almonds)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Drain, then mash. While potatoes are still hot, mix in the milk and butter.
  3. Cook the fennel and carrot in salted boiling water for about 7 minutes, until tender. Drain, and set aside.
  4. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan, add onions, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until they begin to brown. Add the garlic, and cook for another minute. Add the mushrooms, and cook for another 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Sprinkle half the bread crumbs over the base of a shallow, ovenproof 9-inch baking dish. Add half the mushrooms and onions, fennel, parsley, basil, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, and potatoes in layers. Repeat the layer, finishing with potatoes.
  6. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until heated through. (If you use a pie plate, place the plate on a baking sheet before you slide it in the oven to catch any spills.)

Gluten-Free Variation: Substitute 1/4 cup of rolled oats or 1/3 cup of finely chopped almonds for the bread crumbs.

Vegan Variation: Use vegan cheese, soy milk and a butter substitute.

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17 thoughts on “Meatless Monday: Fennel and Mushroom Pie

  1. This is such a gorgeous looking pie. I love how it’s crust-less, and uses mushrooms. Thanks for the gluten-free variation too! I’d probably end up using rolled oats. Sometimes, I like using cornflakes as a substitute for bread crumbs too! Certainly am bookmarking this recipe

  2. This looks amazing. Also, I made the salmon burger tonight for a few friends, and we all LOVED it.

    Long time reader, first time commenter.

  3. Speaking of uncanny, just today, I was thinking, "I should make a quiche" and then I looked at some recipes and thought, "nevermind, I don't like eggs that much." (Also, I don't want to deal with a pie crust.) And now I really want this pie.

  4. This looks delish! I loved all your suggestions for substitutions too… zucchini and goat cheese? YUM! I've never cooked fennel before, but this recipe makes me want to try.

  5. Love the Dr. Who reference. LOL I guess I'm not the only fan in the food blogger crew. This recipe sounds great. Cooked fennel is delicious.

  6. This sounds amazing. Fennel is one of my favorite vegetables and I would have never thought of paring it with mushrooms, but it makes perfect sense! Thanks for sharing!

  7. umm this looks simply amazing! I love the idea of just using breadcrumb layers instead of a crust. This is getting added to my 'recipes to try' folder!

  8. I've never eaten fennel because I HATE HATE HATE the taste of licorice but now I'm kind of tempted to try it in this recipe. Does it really not taste like licorice if you cook it? I'm so skeptical of that vegetable but also so curious.

  9. To Ann-Fennel costs about $2 a head. Roast it with a little olive oil and salt–it doesn't taste like licorice. If it turns out that you don't like it, you haven't invested much into it.

  10. I am always looking for new ways to use fennel as we get it often in our CSA box. Thanks for a great dinner idea!

  11. I tried this pie and really enjoyed it. I loved all the veggies, especially the fennel. It's such a comforting meal.

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