This Sunday, I’m having friends over for a delicious dinner to celebrate the Fall season. Although my guests are carnivores, I’m trying to embrace a more meat-free lifestyle and want to encourage my friends and family to do the same. Thus, I’m serving a vegetarian menu; it will be so full of rich autumnal flavors that no one will miss the beef! For starters, I’ll assemble a wonderful spread with sliced apples, a huge chunk of Point Reyes blue cheese, honeycomb, and homemade spiced walnuts. When we sit down to the table, each person will get their own individual vegetable potpie with sweet potato biscuits. A mixed green salad with dijon vinaigrette rounds out the savory and scrumptious meal.
Although the vegetable pot pies are somewhat laborious, they can be made in advance. Check out the recipes I plan on using here.
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups walnut halves
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a large nonstick skillet, heat honey, oil, and 1 tablespoon water over medium heat. Add walnuts; toss to coat.
Sprinkle the sugar, salt, cumin, coriander, and cayenne over the nuts. Cook, tossing and stirring until the nuts are well coated and lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer to a baking sheet to cool completely.
Serves 8 (makes 2 cups).
VEGETABLE POTPIES WITH SWEET POTATO BISCUITS
1 pound parsnips, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
1/2 pound pearl onions, peeled and halved (see Note)
1 medium head of cauliflower (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch florets
1 large celery root (1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
20 sage leaves, plus 1 teaspoon chopped sage
6 thyme sprigs, plus 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
5 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Unbaked Sweet Potato Biscuits, recipe below
1 large egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large roasting pan, toss the parsnips, brussels sprouts, pearl onions, cauliflower and celery root with the olive oil. Add 6 of the sage leaves and 4 of the thyme sprigs and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned in spots. Discard the sage leaves and thyme sprigs. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the milk with the chopped onion, parsley, 6 of the sage leaves and the remaining 2 thyme sprigs and bring to a simmer. Cover and let stand off the heat for 15 minutes. Strain the milk; rinse out the saucepan.
Melt the butter in the saucepan. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, whisking, until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the strained milk to the saucepan, reduce the heat to low and whisk occasionally until very thick, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the chopped sage and thyme and the heavy cream and season with the nutmeg and salt and pepper. Fold the sauce into the roasted vegetables.
Spoon the vegetable mixture into eight large, 4-inch-wide ramekins and top with the unbaked Sweet Potato Biscuits. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the beaten egg and press the 8 remaining sage leaves onto the biscuits. Bake the potpies in the center of the oven for about 15 minutes until the biscuits are golden and risen and the filling is bubbling. Let the potpies cool slightly, then serve.
Make Ahead: The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated overnight. Return the vegetables to room temperature before baking.
Sweet Potato Biscuits
1 half-pound sweet potato
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
1/3 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Poke the sweet potato all over with a fork and bake for about 45 minutes, until tender. Peel and mash the potato. Set aside 3/4 cup of the mashed potato and let cool completely; reserve the rest for another use. Raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees.
In a food processor, pulse the flour with the brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and the 3/4 cup of mashed sweet potato and pulse just until the dough comes together.
Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured work surface and knead 2 or 3 times, until smooth; the dough will be soft. Roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick and cut out eight 4-inch rounds. Arrange the sweet potato biscuits on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve hot.
Makes 8 biscuits.
Make Ahead: The unbaked sweet potato biscuits can be frozen in a single layer on a baking sheet for up to one week.