Vegun Recipes: North African–Inspired Kale Pie

Vegun Kale Pie

Vegun Main Dishes: Kale Pie

In her newest cookbook, Pies and Tarts with Heart, popular blogger Dynise Balcavage provides readers with the definitive guide to more than 60 homemade vegan pies. Here’s a great recipe for North African Inspired Kale Pie.

Millet is a wonderful crust base not only because it’s nutritious but also because it’s malleable and plays nicely with a variety of flavors and textures. In fact, if you are afraid of making pie crusts, I recommend that you start with this recipe. Here, I’ve paired the millet crust with a garlicky helping of the vegetable darling of the vegan world—kale —along with some raisins, walnuts, warming spices, and a dash of harissa for a North African–inspired savory pie.

Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) pie

Kale Pie Filling


1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, sliced
Salt, to taste
8 cups (536 g) stemmed and very finely chopped kale (preferably lacinato, or dinosaur kale)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup (40 g) nutritional yeast
1/2 cup (75 g) raisins, soaked in water for 10 minutes, then drained
1/3 cup (75 g) vegan mayonnaise (I recommend Vegenaise)
1/3 cup (50 g) chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon harissa, to taste
1 Grain-Based Crust made with millet (see Note) and blind baked for about 15

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C, or gas mark 5).

Directions to Make Kale Pie Filling

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt if it starts to dry out too quickly. Add the kale, stir, cover, and cook until kale is soft, about 20 minutes. Be sure to taste a piece to make sure it’s done. Remove from the heat, and stir in the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Transfer the kale mixture into the prepared pie shell. Use your spatula to flatten the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until firm. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Use a very sharp knife to cut. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: To cook millet, bring 11/2 cups (355 ml) vegetable stock to a boil. Add 1 cup (175 g) millet, decrease the heat to low, and simmer for about 25 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and you can fluff with a fork. It’s best to let the millet sit for a few hours, ideally overnight, before using. If the dough is still too wet, add up to 3 tablespoons (15 g) nutritional yeast and mix in.

Variations: Inclined to decadence? Top with 1 cup (115 g) mild shredded vegan cheese before baking. Substitute just about any cooked grain (e.g., brown rice, quinoa, barley) for the millet—a great use for leftovers. Substitute spinach or chard for the kale. Stove top cooking time will only be 5 to 7 minutes.

Grain-Based Crust for Kale Pie

Using cooked grains as a crust for savory pies is a great way to cut the fat and pump up the fiber and nutrients. Most grain crusts lend a pleasant, slightly nutty flavor base to your pie. And grain crusts are economical and a great way to use leftovers; I often use leftover brown rice from my vegan Chinese takeout as crust inspiration.

Generally speaking, the softer the grain when cooked, the easier it is to form into a crust. Millet is my favorite crust base because it’s almost dough-like in its pliability. Barley is another winner. Using harder, coated grains like wheat berries and kamut is a bit trickier (but not impossible).

Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) crust

Crust Ingredients

2 cups (330 g) cooked grain (e.g., millet, brown rice, quinoa, barley)
2 heaping tablespoons (24 g) nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon (16 g) tahini or other nut butter

Directions to Make Crust

Spray a pie pan with cooking spray. Using your hands, mix the grain with the nutritional yeast and nut butter and knead until it becomes malleable. (The amount of time this takes depends on the sturdiness of your grain.) Press into the pan, fill the pie, and bake.

To blind bake, preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC, or gas mark 5). Bake until golden, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Variation: Add finely chopped veggies (e.g., spinach, broccoli, shredded carrot) to the grain as it cooks for a nutritional boost and extra pops of color.



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