You've probably never heard of Woolton pie. This British wartime meal was created during WWII as a simple, healthy dinner for families. Although it wasn't widely loved in England during the war, I have some ideas to make this vegetarian main course a family favorite.
What is Woolton pie?
- It's a vegetarian dish created in England during war rationing in the 1940s.
- It traditionally contains a variety of garden vegetables, such as potatoes, turnips, carrots, cauliflower, and spring onions.
- It is usually topped with whole wheat pastry or dollops of mashed potatoes.
How can I make Woolton pie taste better?
The strict wartime rationing forced the Ministry of Food to keep Woolton pie quite plain, without much seasoning or any extra ingredients for additional flavor. Although it contained a lot of healthy vitamins and fiber, the British public wasn't fond of its bland flavor. Since we aren't under wartime rationing, we can make this dish as tasty as we'd like! Here's some ideas to get you started.
- Pan-fry 2 large yellow onions in 2 tablespoons of butter until golden and add to the veggie filling.
- Boil only the potatoes for 10 minutes; leave the rest of the veggies raw.
- Season the veggies generously with salt, black pepper, and fresh thyme.
- Mix some rich gravy into the vegetable filling instead of serving the gravy separately.
- For the pastry, cut the amount of mashed potatoes in half and add ½ cup of grated cheddar cheese.
- Use all-purpose flour in the pastry instead of whole wheat for a less earthy taste.
How to Make
Pull out all the filling ingredients: potatoes, carrots, turnip, cauliflower, spring onions, oatmeal, fresh parsley, salt, and pepper.
Peel and dice the potatoes, carrots, and turnip, and chop the cauliflower and spring onions. Add all the filling ingredients into a large pot and just barely cover the veggies with water.
Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Thoroughly drain the veggies, reserving any leftover cooking liquid to use as vegetable stock. Allow to cool.
Place the veggies in a 6-cup (1.5 liter) enamel dish and sprinkle the fresh parsley on top.
Measure out the pastry ingredients: whole wheat flour, mashed potatoes, butter, lard, salt, baking powder, and water.
Pour the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter and lard until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Mix in the mashed potatoes, salt, and baking powder.
Gradually add enough water to bring the ingredients together to form a smooth dough. Knead a few times, then use immediately or chill for later.
Top the filling with the pastry and brush with beaten egg. Crimp the edges, decorate with scraps of pastry, and cut a few vent holes in the top.
Bake at 400 F for about 30 minutes, until the pastry is nicely browned. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
- Want something different? Change the veggies as you desire, or add fresh herbs.
- Need to save time? Have someone help you with the prep work.
- Don't overcook the veggies, or they will be mushy.
- In a rush? Use store-bought pastry instead of the whole wheat one.
- Have leftovers? They'll keep for 3-5 days in the fridge as long as they're tightly covered.
Other British Savory Pies
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Woolton Pie Recipe
For the Filling
- 2 ½ cups russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 5 cups bite-sized cauliflower florets
- 2 cups carrots, diced
- 2 cups turnip, peeled and diced
- ⅔ cup spring onion, sliced
- 1 tablespoon oatmeal
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup curly parsley, chopped
For the Crust
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon mashed potatoes
- 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
- 3 ½ tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup cold water
Making the Filling
- Rinse the cauliflower, then cut into bite-sized florets. Slice the spring onions, then peel and dice the carrots, turnips, and potatoes.
- Dump the chopped veggies, oatmeal, salt, and pepper into a large pot and just barely cover with water. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil, then cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Thoroughly drain the veggies in a large colander, reserving any leftover cooking liquid to use as vegetable stock. Allow to cool, then place the filling in a 6-cup (1.5 liter) enamel pie dish and sprinkle the fresh parsley on top.
Making the Pastry
- Pour the whole wheat flour into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Rub in the butter and lard until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the mashed potatoes, salt, and baking powder until well blended.
- Gradually add enough water to form a smooth dough, making sure all the flour is picked up from the bottom of the bowl. Knead the dough a few times.
Assembling & Baking the Pie
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to ¼ inch thick. Cover the filling with the pastry, decorate with leftover scraps, and brush with beaten egg. Cut a few vent holes in the top.
- Bake at 400 F for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Let it cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack before serving. Serve each slice with a generous amount of gravy made with the reserved vegetable cooking water.
- Change up the veggies based on your personal taste.
- Have a helper peel and cut the veggies with you. It will decrease the prep time significantly!
- Be careful not to over-boil the vegetables; it will make them mushy.
- Use store-bought pastry if you're in a hurry.
- This pie will keep for 3-5 days in the fridge.
Serving sizes and nutritional information are only an estimate and may vary from your results.