This is a recipe that was given to me by a friend and coworker.  She is vegetarian and always looking for recipes that are hearty crowd-pleasers without meat.  This was a crowd-pleaser for sure!  I made it twice over the winter holidays, once for family and once for friends.  The first time I followed the recipe for the topping but made some adjustments to the stew (couldn’t find celery root).  The second time I followed the recipe for the stew but made adjustments to the crust (trying to achieve a more cheddar-y and less biscuit-y result).  I preferred the second iteration…the celery root was delicious and the crust less bready.

The recipe below is the original version.  Quantity substitutions for the less biscuit-y crust are in parentheses.

Ingredients – Cheddar Topping
2 cups flour (sub: 1 1/2 cups)
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 tsp. baking powder (sub: 3 tsp. baking powder)
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and well chilled
1 to 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped garlic
pinch ground pepper (or more to taste)
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar (sub: 3/4 to 1 cup)

Ingredients – Vegetable Stew
3 tbsp. EVOO
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 red onion
2 medium carrots
1 medium celery root
1 medium acorn squash
1 parsnip
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
3 tbsp. tomato paste
3 cups chicken or veggie broth
1 tbsp. chopped fresh marjoram (or other fragrant, tender herb such as sage, thyme, etc.)
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

First make the topping so that it has time to rest before baking.  Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl.  Cut in butter using forks, fingers, or pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add the cream, garlic, and pepper.  Add the cheese and mix lightly until just holds together (note: the second time around, I added the cheese to the flour first then the wet ingredients and found this much easier to do quickly).  Set aside to rest at room temperature.

Next make the stew.  All vegetables should be peeled and chopped to about 1-inch cubes.  Heat half of the oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, carrots, and celery root; cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are browned (about 7 minutes).  Transfer veggies to a large (13 x 9) casserole or roasting pan.  Repeat this with remaining butter, oil, and root veggies, cooking about 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two until just fragrant.  Add this mixture to the casserole dish.

Increase heat to high and add the white wine, tomato paste, and broth to the saute pan.  Bring to a boil, scraping brown bits from bottom of saute pan.  Lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.  Add this liquid to the casserole (it will seem like a lot, but trust the recipe…it works!).  Sprinkle with marjoram, season with salt and pepper (be careful…if you used cooking wine or canned broth, it may not need more salt).  Cover the casserole with foil and bake until the veggies are tender, about 30 minutes.  There will still be lots of liquid at this point.

Remove the foil.  Using a large spoon, drop ping-pong size balls of the topping onto the veggies.  The lumpier, the better!  Crevaces are good.  Return the casserole to the oven, uncovered, until the topping is cooked and browned, about 25 minutes.

Let me know what you think!