Sunday, October 28, 2018

Vegan Pasties

When I was a college student at Michigan Tech in the early 80s, there was a group on campus called Conscious Stomach that was started in the winter of 1976-1977 when a group of like-minded students and community members from Michigan Tech, Funky’s Karma Kafe and the Keweenaw Co-op started coming together to talk about food, what options there were for whole and natural foods in the Copper Country, political issues surrounding food, and the improvement of food options within university dining services.  I don't think Funky's Karma Kafe still existed when I arrived in the fall of 1982....I heard it was started by a couple hippies that came up to Houghton to go hiking and never left.  Here is a picture from it's grand opening in the early 70s....

So I have this group of hippies to thank for agitating for more vegetarian options on campus.  Because of Conscious Stomach, on Wednesdays when the Memorial Union served pasties, they served both regular and vegetarian.  I always opted for the vegetarian option; it had vegetables, sunflower seeds, golden raisins in a whole wheat crust with a creamy mushroom gravy.   Sometime during my time at MTU, the Conscious Stomach was no longer, but I fondly remembered that vegetarian pasty and decided to try my hand at making one myself.   

Houghton in the 1970s was different than it is now.  I found some excellent relics at the MTU Archives when I went to visit them in search of the vegetarian pasty recipe.  Note the preponderance of whole wheat and sprouts....

Alas, no vegetarian pasty recipe.   I was on my own. I shopped at the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market yesterday for the vegetables: sweet potato,  hubbard squash, acorn squash, red kuri squash, carrots, parsnip to go along with the normal pasty vegetables of rutabaga, potato and onion.  I also picked up some golden raisins and sunflower seeds and whole wheat flour at the People's Food Coop because I am sure that is what Funky would have wanted me to do.    After peeling and chopping all that squash and root vegetables, I had a blister on my hand and realized I had way more vegetables than I would ever need for pasties.   So I roasted them in some olive oil, salt and pepper to freeze for future use.  Note to self: next time, buy the pre peeled and diced squash at Meijer.


I wasn't sure how to season it, but after several tries, I found that garlic, salt, pepper and thyme worked best.   The sunflower seeds were a delicious addition, but the raisins were just too weird.  I tried my hand at a whole wheat crust, but it came out pretty tough. Instead, I recommend my my usual pasty crust, made with shortening.  Still vegan!  I decided to try out Melissa Clark's recipe for vegan mushroom gravy, but made it better by using more mushrooms and soy sauce and less oil.   It was outstanding and I agree with her that even meat eaters would love it.    Here is how it all came out.....

Vegan Pasties
makes 6 pasties

1 1/2 c. 1/4 inch diced root vegetables and squash (your choice from above mentioned)
1 1/2 c. 1/4 inch diced peeled potato
1/2 c. finely chopped onion
3/4 c. roasted shelled sunflower seeds
3/4 t. kosher salt
3/4 t. ground pepper
3/4 t. dried thyme
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 t. vegan margarine

Mix everything except margarine together in a bowl.   Divide dough into 6 balls, and roll each ball into an oval.  Fill each with vegetable mixture, top with a pat of margarine.  Bake at 375 F for 1 hour.

Vegan Mushroom Gravy

3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped 
8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, finely chopped 
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 to 5 cups vegetable stock,
2 T soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring, until well browned, 10-15  minutes. Sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in vegetable stock, a little at a time, until a smooth sauce
forms. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes until thickened.

 I suppose you could eat a vegan pasty with ketchup if you wanted, although I think the mushroom gravy is a much better fit.   I bet even Funky, wherever he is now, would agree!