Roasted Root Vegetable Pie with Rosemary Biscuit Topping

One of my resolutions for 2011 was being a more consistent blogger. To do that, I decided to pick out one beautiful piece of produce from my farmers' market each week, cook something with it, and then share my experience with my readers. Here it goes!

After returning from two weeks in Wisconsin and one weekend in Pasadena for the Rose Bowl, Chris and I finally made it to the farmers' market last Saturday. It had been and continues to be very cold around here, including a nice crust of frost on our lawn on Monday morning, so I thought making something warm and comforting would be a good idea. And when I think warm and comforting in the winter, I think root vegetables.

Root vegetables tend to get a bad reputation for being bland, and I do not disagree, because it seems that a lot of recipes cook them in a way that would render them flavorless. However, when cooked and seasoned properly, as well as paired with the right ingredients in appropriate dishes, root vegetables can be pretty tasty.

This recipe is an adaptation from one my mom wanted to make when Chris and I were visiting over the holidays. We made lobster risotto instead. Not to say that the recipe didn't sound like a good idea, but upon reading it I knew there were some serious adjustments to be made (that and lobster risotto is just amazing). I read the recipe a few more times, thought about it, and figured that I was ready to make my version it this week.

While at the market, there was a wonderful supply of root vegetables. I picked up two big rutabagas, two beautifully round turnips, a bright bunch of carrots, and my new ingredient - celeriac. Also known as celery root, celeriac is not the root of the celery we are familiar with, but it is in the same family. I had never cooked with it before, and have to admit it looks really weird. It's bumpy, green, and hairy. It smells, however, like fresh celery, which I was really surprised about. I snagged a few parsnips (grown in the Sacramento region) from my local co-op and I was ready to take a crack at this recipe.

You will find this recipe to be time consuming in preparation, because you have to peel and chop a lot of root vegetables. In addition, the sauce reduction takes some time. That being said, I actually did this recipe in three parts, but I show in the recipe that you can also break it into two parts, or (of course), do it all at once.

A key to this recipe is the rosemary - do not be shy with it! And please, if you can get fresh rosemary, use it. I am fortunate enough to live in a climate where my rosemary plant thrives all year, so I was able to snip it right from my backyard. For recipes like this, where rosemary plays such a central role in each component, using fresh is so much better than using dried. So if you do have to buy it, get it from your co-op, buy organic if you can, and splurge a little. You'll probably end up using all of it!

Enjoy and stay warm!

Roasted Root Vegetable Pie with Rosemary Biscuit Topping
Serves 6

2 very large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large celery root (celeriac), peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large rutabaga, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 turnip, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, broken into 1/2-inch pieces, rinsed
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 c chopped onions
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1/2 c all purpose flour
6 c vegetable broth
1/4 c non-fat milk
2 tbsp dry sherry (brandy or cognac is fine too)

Biscuit Topping
2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
4 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, diced
1 1/3 c low-fat or non-fat plain yogurt

Lightly butter a deep rectangular baking dish or cast iron braising pan. Set aside.

To make the filling, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Put all root vegetables in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, rosemary, salt, & fresh ground pepper. Roast vegetables for about 20 minutes or until fork tender, stirring around at least once during baking. When the veggies are done, cool slightly, then put in prepared pan. Reduce oven heat to 400 degrees F. Do ahead: chop the root vegetables and onion a day ahead. Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to use.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until soft and slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and rosemary, saute for 2 minutes. Add the flour; stir for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the broth, then the milk and sherry. Add the mushrooms. Cook until the sauce is thick and reduced to about 4 cups, whisking often, about 15 minutes. Pour the sauce over the prepared vegetables. Do ahead: can be made two days ahead; Cover with foil and chill.

To make the biscuit topping, place all dry ingredients in a small bowl. Using your fingers, work in the diced butter until the mixture resembles corse cornmeal. Add the yogurt, 1/3 cup at a time, mixing with a fork after each addition, until the dough is evenly moistened, adding more yogurt by tablespoonfuls if still dry.

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of dough on top of the filling. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of biscuit comes out clean. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Note: When reheating this dish later, I recommend reheating in a 350 degree F oven. Reheating in the microwave will make the biscuit topping mushy.

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