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  • {Recipe Redux} Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

    Monday, December 22, 2014

    vegetarian shepherds pie, vegan shepherds pie, lentil shepherds pie, healthy shephers pie
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    The last Recipe Redux of the year, and it’s a good one! In celebration of their inception 42 months ago, the ladies behind RR challenged members to dive into a cookbook, find a recipe on page 42 or 142 and make it healthier. Since most of the cookbooks in my collection are pretty healthy, I had to explore several before I found the perfect candidate: Shepherd’s Pie. Such a classic, and I bet you haven’t made it in a while. For me, it’s the ultimate comfort food, and the timing couldn’t be better since winter has taken firm hold for most of us.

    Dishing up vermont cookbook coverShephers pie recipe page kindred-kitchen

    So, what to do to make the classic combination of beef, mashed potatoes, gravy and veggies healthier? The most predictable approach would have been to simply replace the beef with turkey or chicken. Where’s the fun and challenge in that? Why not channel my inner vegan (who will never actually be a full-time alter-ego since I can’t imagine a life without butter) and create a plant-based protein version? So trendy.

    I admit to (and gladly own with pride) a love of lentils. They are incredibly versatile, cook more quickly than most beans and legumes, and can impart a somewhat meaty quality to a dish. No, seriously…they really can. In order to make them seem even more ‘meaty’, I cooked them in a flavorful mushroom-based broth. For those of you who are regular readers of this little blog, you’ve seen me wax poetic about the magical ‘meaty’ quality of mushroom broth (since this recipe is somewhat, let’s call it ‘involved’, I took an easy shortcut and used my favorite packaged mushroom broth by Pacific Foods. If you can’t find it, you can order it online, or just use a vegetable broth instead). If you’re feeling particularly ready for an added challenge, you can find my recipe for homemade mushroom broth as the base for my vegan French mushroom soup. Incidentally, mushroom broth also makes a great base for gravy.

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    So, with the meat replaced, I pondered what to do with the vegetable component of the recipe. Corn and peas are the traditional choice, but they didn’t seen quite right for the lentils. After staring out the window in an unsuccessful bid to be inspired by sky and rain, I decided to venture out to the grocery store for inspiration. after getting the essentials piled into my basket, I wandered the produce aisles and happened upon the joys of autumn: root vegetables! Hello turnips, parsnips, carrots and celery root (AKA celeriac). Brilliant! Something about these beautiful seasonal vegetables just seemed so…harmonious. Roasting them adds a rich and hearty element that helps to ensure that you just won’t miss the meat. I promise.

    Lastly (and most importantly) the potato topping. Since I’d already taken quite a bit of liberty with my interpretation of Shepherd’s Pie, I decided to stick with the tried and true–creamy mashed with plenty of seasoning and vegan butter (of course you could always substitute with real butter and a bit of whole milk if you’re OK with that).

    vegan shepherds pie, vegetarian shepherds, healthy shepherds pie

    This dish was so yummy, even my lentil-neutral husband (he doesn’t really hate them…doesn’t really love them) loved it. And, it was even tastier the next day. It is a fairly involved dish that requires you to make all three components somewhat simultaneously, so it’s a great candidate for a nice Sunday supper. It can be made ahead, too….just pop it in the fridge for a day or two and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes and you’re ready to dive in.

    Added bonus: serve up this hearty meal as the main course for your vegan and vegetarian guests around the holiday table. They’ll be so excited to have a plate that isn’t entirely made up of sides, plus it smells like Thanksgiving on a plate, sans the bird. Trust me on this.

    vegan shepherds pie, vegetarian shepherds pie, healty shepherds pie

    {Recipe Redux} Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

    servings: about 6 | time: about 1.5 hours

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    4 TBSP. olive oil

    3/4 pound baby Portobello mushrooms, chopped

    1/2 medium white onion, chopped

    2 TBSP. dry marsala wine

    2 TBSP. tomato paste

    1 1/2 cup mushroom broth (or veggie)

    1 cup green lentils, rinsed

    2 bay leaves

    2 tsp. herbs de Provence

    1 tsp. kosher salt

    1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

    1/2 tsp. garlic powder

    1 large carrot, diced into 1/4″ pieces

    1 large parsnip, diced into 1/4″ pieces

    1 small turnip, diced into 1/4″ pieces

    1 small (the smallest you can find) celery root, diced into 1/4″ pieces (here’s how to peel it)

    2 medium russet potatoes (about 1/2 a pound)

    5 TBSP. vegan buttery spread

    big handful of fresh parsley, chopped


    Get the lentil layer started:

    1. Heat 2 TBSP. of the olive oil over medium high heat in a large Dutch oven

    2. Add the chopped mushrooms and onion and saute for 5 minutes

    3. Add the wine and tomato paste and saute for 2-3 minutes

    4. Add the mushroom broth, lentils, bay leaves, herbs de Provence, kosher salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cover and simmer for 50-60 minutes, just until lentils are tender (the liquid should be mostly absorbed by now). Remove the bay leaves and set aside


    Prepare the roasted root vegetable layer:

    1. Preheat oven to 350

    2. Place all of the diced veggies in a large bowl. Add remaining 2 TBSP. olive oil. Add a couple pinches salt and one pinch of black pepper. Toss well and spread in a single layer on a large baking sheet

    3. Bake for about 20 minutes, just until the veggies are tender


    Prepare the potato layer:

    1. Peel the potatoes and cut into quarters

    3. Add the potatoes to a large saucepan and cover with cold water and add a couple of big pinches of salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook at a low boil for 20 minutes or until tender when tested with a fork or paring knife. Set them aside until you’re ready to make the puree (do not drain)


    Assemble the Shepherd’s Pie:

    1. Spray a medium baking dish or pie plate with non-stick spray

    2. Spread the cooked lentils evenly in the bottom of the dish

    3. Add the roasted root vegetable layer over the lentils, spread evenly. Top with the chopped parsley

    4. Mash the potatoes with a generous amount of vegan buttery spread (about 5 TBSP) and add enough vegetable broth to make them smooth and creamy. (Tip–I LOVE this little gadget for making the most amazing, smooth, creamy mash). Spread over top of the lentils and roasted root vegetables, making sure it’s smooth and even

    5. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Uncover and cook for an additional 10 minutes. (If you’ve made it ahead and are cooking from the fridge, preheat the oven to 350 and cook covered for about 40 minutes, uncovered for about 10).


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    10 responses to “{Recipe Redux} Vegan Shepherd’s Pie”

    1. Sarah Grace says:

      Haven’t had shepherd’s pie in forever! Looks really good!
      xoxo Sarah Grace, Fresh Fit N Healthy.

    2. OK – I love love this take on Shepherds Pie! I’m not a big beef/meat eater so I never make it but I sure will with this lentil version – perfect for the winter months ahead 🙂

    3. YUM!!! I’ve been wanting to make a vegan Shepard’s pie for awhile now. Great idea!

    4. Thanks Elizabeth…I think even the most committed of carnivores might enjoy this one!

    5. Lentils, mushroom stock and marsala wine. Swoooon!

    6. The depth of flavor in this dish sounds just lovely! I used celeriac last year for the first time (to make a creamy soup) and was hooked! Brilliant idea to use it with the potato.

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