There’s something wonderfully comforting about shepherd’s pie. This version skips the meat, but it will warm you deep down to your toes.
The trick with wintry comfort food is to come up with something that’s rich and thick and hearty… without being dense and stodgy and dull. This recipe from ILoveVegan.com manages to do just that. Rather than beef – or mutton, if you go back to the roots of this dish – it uses a mix of vegetables and green lentils as the filing. And it turns out just fine. Not “this is pretty good for meatless,” but “this is good.” The mix of lentils and mushrooms gives the dish a hearty, earthy, rootedness that is exactly what you want for a warming winter dish.
For the topping, you can try using baby fingerling potatoes rather than conventional baking potatoes. The baby potatoes have such delicate skins that you can cook and mash them whole, giving you an added shot of fibre in your pie.
The truly vegan version calls for Earth Balance or some other butter substitute in the topping. If you’re not into the vegan calling, then feel free to use butter.
Mashed Potato Topping:
⅓ cup milk (for vegan, use unsweetened soy or almond milk)
½ tbsp butter (for vegan, use Earth Balance or something similar)
½ tsp salt
1½ tbsp olive oil
½ cup carrots, chopped
½ cup celery, chopped
½ red onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup kale, de-stemmed and finely chopped
2 cup mushrooms, sliced
¼ tsp thyme
2 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
1½ – 2 cups veggie broth
½ cup frozen corn
½ cup frozen peas
1½ cups cooked green lentils (cooking instructions below)
In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water and bring to the boil. Boil until tender (15 minutes or so)
Preheat oven to 375F
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and kale. Saute for two minutes. Add the mushrooms and thyme. Continue sautéing until the vegetables are nearly tender
Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to coat. Cook for 1 minute. Gradually add the veggie broth to the vegetables using a whisk to incorporate the broth. Keep adding more broth until the consistency is a thin gravy. Add the corn, peas, and cooked lentilss. Simmer for 5 minutes (add more water if needed.) Pour veggie mixture into a large casserole dish. Spoon or pipe mashed potatoes evenly on top. Cover the casserole dish with a lid or foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and broil for 2-5 minute until browned to your liking
Cooking Lentils: Approx. ¾ cup dry green lentils = 1½ cups cooked. Rinse lentils and add to 2 ½ cups unsalted water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 20 to 25 minutes (until lentils are tender.)