Walrus Pie is a vegan dish I made for one of my favorite people; the odd name was meant to represent the strange ingredients, but it reminds me of one of my first great vegan successes in the kitchen, and of sharing it with someone important. Vegan living is important to me, so I thought I'd share it and other things that are important to me with you! The rest is just yoga.
So according to Urban Dictionary, a walrus pie is a homemade pie similar to that of a chicken pot pie-- except made with walrus meat. I want you to know that the Walrus Pie I refer to in the title of this blog is a vegan Asparagus Quiche with tomatoes and tarragon. The recipe is one I found in Veganomicon, but I felt strange calling a pie that does not include eggs or cheese a quiche, so because the main pie ingredients are walnuts and asparagus, the name "walrus" emerged as a sort of cute combination of the two.
Made up of pureed asparagus, shallots, garlic, walnuts, navy beans and fresh tarragon with tomatoes on top, this "quiche" or pie was my first attempt at replacing the egg and cheese quiche of my childhood with a vegan substitute. I think if this attempt had gone poorly you would be reading a different blog, but luckily it was a marked success.
One of the most important parts of a quiche is always the crust. This simple recipe for a basic pastry crust includes flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, vegan shortening, cold water and apple cider vinegar. You simply mix the dry ingredients, cut in your shortening, and then slowly add the cold liquids. The key to good flaky crust is keeping your ingredients cold and not mixing the dough too aggressively. Many pie crusts include far fewer ingredients (a crust can be made using only flour, shortening or margarine and water), but I have found them to be chewier and less flavorful than Veganomicon's recipe for a basic crust.
Nutmeg and walnuts gave this pie a homey, comforting taste to add to the usual savory and vegetable flavors, and bread crumbs and sliced tomatoes on top gave it the added touch that kept the texture and flavor interesting despite the main layer of smooth puree. I made this pie rather late at night after a long day, tasted it, and then heated it up for lunch all week, but this is a great dish to serve at a brunch or to bring to a potluck dinner!
While I strongly support the making of walnut and asparagus quiche (fondly, walrus pie), I do not support the killing of walruses to make pie (and neither does the law). Only Native Americans are currently allowed to hunt walruses, as the species' survival was threatened by past overhunting. Their tusks, oil, skin, and meat were so sought after in the 18th and 19th centuries that the walrus was hunted to extinction in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and around Sable Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia. The animals have since rebounded, but only due to the hunting ban. These giant arctic mammals are social, unique, and creative creatures with adorable whiskers (which are used to detect shellfish on the ocean floor), and while they are not particularly graceful in their appearance, they are noble in their fight for continued survival and should be respected.
While it is difficult for me to imagine a human taking on a 1.5 ton animal with 3 foot tusks, apparently it can be done, however just because you can doesn't mean you should. Follow the law and protect species like walruses by not eating them or products made from their bodies (and report people who are making walrus pie)! To find out more about walruses, check out the Defenders of Wildlife webpage and learn which species are listed as endangered today and how you can help to protect them. The biggest threat to the walrus population today is climate change, so think of their cute faces and melting habitats when you burn fossil fuels and eat products that come from industrial farms!
For an incredibly inappropriate blog article about certain aspects of the noble walrus that are not appropriate to discuss at your dinner table (vegan or not), feel free to click here.