It's Gotta be A Manly Meat Pie: The Best Traybake Plant Based Ragu Wrapped in Pastry You've Ever Eaten

Plant based doesn't have to be lettuce and mung beans and wasting away. Those myths have been truly shot to the ground, and if you're still a man arguing about the manliness of plant based meals, you really need to get plant educated. There's more than enough protein in plants to fill your belly and give you energy to be manly, whatever that means to you.

But sometimes, you gotta go hard on that satisfying 'meaty' taste, rich with flavour, a little smoky and spicey maybe, filling and suprising.

Which makes me want to rave about the best pie filling I've ever made. In fact, it's great for lasagne, spaghetti bolognaise, or shepard's pie - good, hearty meals that would make any man happy.


It's the most extraordinary vegan ragu you have ever eaten. I'm serious. This recipe was enough to make my spag bol loving husband to admit he preferred this to the meat version. That's a serious claim. Ottolenghi, in his new recipe book 'Flavour' said so many iterations of this recipe were made they could have sunk a small ship, before finally arriving at this one.

Of course, the second time I made it I adapted it a little more to suit. It IS a long ingredient list - and the way the recipe is put together is a little daunting, so I wrote it out differently so I could send it to all my friends so THEY could make it too. I think I have just saved at least one cow by doing this.

The umami taste in this is just perfect. It's smokey and a little spicey if you like it that way, rich and full of flavours and good. It's definitely not lettuce wrapped around a carrot.

And it's pretty darn addictive.

Arguably, you could use any sort of mushroom in this - I suggest porcini has got that special flavour but I imagine perhaps shitake would also work. Porcini is NOT cheap here - hence why I reduced the amount, but it still tasted amazing.

If you are making the pies, here's a top tip - put the filling into muffin trays, freeze them and wrap the pastry around the frozen 'cups' of ragu. Super easy for a quick midweek pie feast - you could even serve it with mash and gravy!


First of all, simply food process the vegetables until finely chopped or do it by hand (I did it by hand). Toss them together in a bowl with the tomato paste, miso paste, soy, cummin and harrissa. Cook this at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes, stir, and bake for another 20 minutes or until browned around the edges and bubbling. At this point it will smell absolutely delicious.

3 carrots, peeled and chopped3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 onions, chopped into large chunksHalf a bunch of finely chopped spring onions
300 g oyster mushrooms6 large field mushrooms or 10 large button mushrooms
60 g dried porcini, roughly blitzed30 - 40 g dried porchini, finely blitzed
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped4-6 garlic leaves or a large handful of garlic chives, fine chopped
3 - 4 plum tomatoes, chopped3 large tomatoes and 1/2 can tinned tomatoes
120 ml olive oil80 ml olive oil
70g white miso paste2 heaped tablespoons red miso paste
90 ml soy sauceA generous splash of tamari or soy sauce
2 tsp crushed cummin seeds2 heaped tablespoons of cummin powder
40 g rose harrissa1 heaped tablespoon harissa (test for spiciness and adjust accordingly)
4 tbsp of tomato paste4 tbsp tomato paste

First bake the vegetables til browned and smelling insanely delicious


Due to the size of my pan, I could not fit a litre of stock in as the recipe called for, so we went with half a litre, and added more after about 25 minutes. We never used up the whole litre, but the pearl barley and lentils were cooked. Thus, it's only necessary to use the water to cook the pulses, so a simple check will solve the small dish issue.

180 g brown or green lentilsScant cup of lentils
100 g pearl barley1/2 cup of pearl barley
160 g coconut creamscant 1/3 of a tin coconut cream
100 ml red wine80 ml of red wine and a swig for the cook
1 litre vegetable stock1/2 litre of stock and more if needed
salt and peppersalt and pepper, plus a spillage of peppercorns on the kitchen floor


Double check your puff pastry to make sure it doesn't have lard or animal fat in it. Cut into squares. Fold the edges over to make pies, like so.

Sprinkle with seeds or cracked black pepper (ours had onion seeds and sesame seeds). Cook in medium oven til golden brown and piping hot.


My son and his girlfriend have very meat loving friends that wouldn't have a clue about how to cook at all, let alone plant based meals. Last time they went for dinner, they had tomato soup. Long story short, my son made these pies for them and they nearly died with amazement, finding them meaty, satisfying and 'as good as any meat pie you'd eat', they said. Now if that's not proof in the pudding pie, I don't know what is.

Manly? Well, as much as a good meat pie can be 'manly', I suppose, if you're still old fashioned enough to believe food has a gender type.

Can vegan food be 'manly'? What stereotypes do people through at non meat eaters? What food would you serve up to a vegetarian? Would you rather eat meat any day? Can you get enough nutrients from a plant based diet to be a sexy, virile, strong man?

Natural Medicine and Man Cave present the MANLY MAN PLANT BASED CHALLENGE. Check out the challenge here - it's on for the rest of the month, so choose a topic or a viewpoint and go for it! You can win BRO and LOTUS tokens as well as HIVE!

With Love,

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