Eastern Europe isn’t especially famous for its vegetarian food. Occasionally I like to check out Russian, Ukranian, and Croatian cook books from the library. Most of them were written and photographed so long ago that the photographs are somewhat dreary. Still, I am attracted to the culture (and culture clashes), the food, and the architecture of Eastern Europe.
I did research about Ukranian and Russian food while writing my first (unpublished) novel “Jane Doe” and was fascinated by solyanka, a soup with pickles in it. I feel sure I will one day make a meatless version of it.
This dish was inspired by a recipe I tried first many years ago from the cookbook “Vegetarian Epicure” by Anna Thomas. I don’t even have the book anymore and don’t remember how she made it or exactly what was in it but what I got from her recipe for a Russian style pie was the combination of marjoram, cabbage, and mushrooms with hard boiled eggs. I have been making different versions of this combination for a long time and finally decided to make it into pot pies and change the marjoram to dill.
I don’t have a pie crust recipe prepared for you but if you don’t already have your own favorite try this Simply Recipes pate brisee, it’s almost the same as the one I use. You need enough pie dough for one crust and you’ll need 6 8 oz ramekins or other single serving dishes if you want to make the pot pies. If you don’t want little pies you can make this as one single big pie.
Russian Pot Pie
makes 6 pot pies
Enough pie dough for one crust, portioned into 6 pieces
6 hard boiled eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 lb button mushrooms, sliced
1 head cabbage, chopped small
1/2 cup water (appx)
1 1/2 tsp dried dill
1 tsp salt
30 grinds fresh pepper
16 oz sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan on med/high, add the onions and cook until they just start to become translucent. Add all the mushrooms and cook until they are completely soft. Add the cabbage, dill, salt, pepper, and the water and put the lid on the pan, removing every couple of minutes to stir and make sure the pan hasn’t gone dry. If the cabbage isn’t tender yet but is starting to brown, add a little more water.
When the cabbage is tender turn the heat down to low and add the sour cream, stirring it in well. When heated through, remove from heat.
Put your ramekins on a baking sheet to catch any overflowing juices from the pies. Fill each ramekin halfway with the cabbage and mushrooms. Slice and layer a hard boiled egg into it. Fill to the top with more mushroom and cabbage. You should have enough to fill all six to a rounded mound, but if not, that’s okay. It will vary depending on the size of your cabbage.
Roll out the six pieces of dough into circles just a little bit bigger than the circumference of the ramekins. Lay the dough on top of each one pushing the edges against the edge of each dish to seal it shut. Use a small sharp knife to make little slashes in the dough to let the steam out while cooking.
Recipe Notes: I’ve made this with marjoram instead of dill and loved it both ways. I have also made it without the sour cream which Philip and I loved but my mom thought it was too dry. As I’ve mentioned before, I use a light sour cream but only because Tillamook makes a really flavorful one.
This could be vegan if you use a vegan crust, leave out the egg, and don’t use the sour cream. That might not sound good to some people but what is most important in this dish is the cabbage, mushrooms, and seasonings- it’s really good right from the pan so I encourage my vegan friends to come up with their own version. If you wanted it to have some protein I would add some white beans which won’t take away from the other flavors but would make it more hearty.