Thursday, September 28, 2006

September 28, 2006: I-can't-believe-it's-not-meat pie

In his omnivorous days, meat pies were one of Michael's guilty pleasures. I developed this recipe for him after we went veg and I discovered TVP (textured vegetable protein). TVP comes as dried up flaky bits, and is made mostly of soy flour. When the flakes are soaked in water they fluff up into a pretty convincing substitute for beef mince. They don't taste meaty, exactly, but mince is so often hidden in sauce or other flavours that I reckon it'd do the job almost all the time. I've had a couple of omnivores comment that they wouldn't have picked the difference in this recipe if they hadn't known I was vegetarian. You can get Sanitarium brand TVP from most supermarkets, and some health food shops sell other brands of it too.

I was going to submit this recipe to the "We Do Chew Our Food" pie review, but I wanted to post it here because it's one of the dishes of which I'm most proud. I invented it from scratch!

Cindy's I-can't-believe-it's-not-meat pies

Mix 1 cup of TVP mince with 1 cup of hot water, and set it aside to fluff up.

Finely chop a small onion, and about a cup of mushrooms. Mince or chop 3 cloves of garlic.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a reasonably large saucepan. Cook the onions and garlic until the onion starts browning. Add a tablespoon of flour and keep stirring so that it doesn't stick to the bottom. Next you need about 2 cups of liquid: try any combination you like of stock, red wine, milk or plain ol' water. Keep stirring for a bit, and the liquid should thicken. Next flavour that gravy up: try vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, worcestershire sauce, chopped herbs. There's gotta be black pepper. Make sure you taste it and adjust the flavours to your preference.

Now that you know how to make gravy, I'll tell you that you can just buy a sachet of Gravox and add hot water. It sure ain't any worse than what you'll get in a meat pie.

Take the gravy off the heat and stir in the mushrooms and the TVP. Set the oven to 200 degrees.

Thaw out three sheets of puff pastry. I'm thinking of the standard ones that are about 25cm x 25 cm, at the supermarket. Grease up a muffin tray, then cut the pastry sheets into four squares each. Gently mold the pastry squares into the muffin cups and spoon about 2 tablespoons of the mince mix into each one. It's tempting, but don't fill them up too much or they'll overflow in the oven. Fold up the corners and pinch them together a bit, but allow some gaps for steam to escape. If you've got little pie dishes or you want the traditional flat-top look, go ahead: I just find this approach easy, it doesn't waste any pastry, and I don't need to buy any extra dishes. Bake the mini-pies for about 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and a bit flaky. If you haven't experimented and got the filling levels right, consider putting an extra tray under the muffin pan to catch any overflow.

Serve with lots of sauce! We are a divided household on the sauce issue, with Michael preferring Worcestershire. I'm more of a traditional tomato girl, myself. This time I still had some home-made arrabbiatta sauce in the freezer as a slightly gourmet treat. Our favourite sides are garlic mashed potato and wilted spinach leaves.

It's official: vegetarianism is no longer unAustralian.


  1. Hi Cindy - if you want to abridge this getting it down to a small paragraph, 1 photo and a link to your recipe, am happy to add it to the Great Pie Round Up.

    And thanks for your review Michael :)

  2. Fantastic - a veggo pie recipe. I really miss pies - well I don't msss the gross offal that substitutes for meat, but I miss the gravy and, you know, the general concept. Am going to try this out.

  3. Come back and let us know how it goes! If you have any suggestions on improving the recipe, please add them here too.

  4. Hi Cindy!, I from Chile, SudAmerican, I would like to learn more about TVP protein texturized soya or vegetal. I am working in a project about the process of burger soy, but i am very confussed, i need info.
    Thank for hear me!
    my email is or

    PD: Sorry, my english is not very well

    1. Look at this article. I think I would steer clear of TVP.

  5. Hello,
    We usually buy Sanitarium brand TVP from our local supermarket. Have a look at their website: there is some information, and also places where you can contact customer service or a nutritionist.

    Hope this helps!

  6. Hiya! I foudn your blog through Miss T's.

    I had a craving for a veggie pie a while back and never bothered to attempt making one. I think I will give these a go as I have pastry in the freezer and tvp in the cupboard, win!

  7. Welcome Mandee! I hope these hit the spot. :-)

  8. hi. i just found your website. very nice :) I went veg about 3 months ago and i'm working on indian recepies. you know, here in Argentina we can't buy texturized soya because most soya is transgenic and thats terrible for health.. NICE BLOG!! I'll chek it out often.

  9. Welcome Tesa! Hopefully you've noticed that we also have plenty of soy-free recipes on this blog as well as soy-filled ones like these pies. I hope you continue to enjoy eating veg and that we'll see you here again. :-)

  10. do you know where to buy vegetarian-friendly Worcestershire in the inner suburbs of melbourne? haven't seen it before and i'm craving it now!

  11. Gia, unfortunately my usual supplier (Allergy Block) seems to have gone out of business. I would suggest looking out for it in health food shops, particularly Organic Wholefoods.