Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
1 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic (or to taste)
1 cup celery, chopped
2 heaping tsp. dried thyme
3 cups cooked green lentils, drained (1¼ cup dried green lentils boiled in 4 cups vegetable broth or water for 40 minutes; or 2-14 oz. cans of lentils, drained)
¼ cup tomato paste
1 Tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce (recommended: Annie’s brand)
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup vegetable broth (recommended: Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Base, broth concentrate)
1 heaping tsp. Dijon mustard
20 oz. frozen mixed vegetables, thawed (can also use approximately 4 cups of any combination of fresh corn, carrots, peas, green beans, etc. in place of frozen vegetables)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2½ lb. russet potatoes, cut into approximately 1-inch cubes
¼ cup vegan butter (recommend: Earth Balance, Miyoko’s, or Natural Grocers Organic Plant-Based Butter)
⅓ cup unsweetened plant milk
1 generous tsp. garlic powder or granules
Salt and pepper, to taste
If using dried lentils, cook these first. Peel and slice the potatoes and boil in salted water until they are tender and fall off the fork.
Once the lentils and potatoes are ready, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
For the filling: In a pan, cook the onion and celery in oil until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for 5 more minutes. Add the thyme and cook for another minute or two.
Add the cooked lentils, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and flour to the pan. Stir until the flour is incorporated.
Add the vegetable broth, Dijon mustard, mixed vegetables and a pinch of salt and pepper. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring often. Add more vegetable broth, salt and pepper, if desired.
For the mashed potatoes: Drain the cooked potatoes; add vegan butter, plant milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Use a potato masher to mix all ingredients together. (For whipped potatoes, use an electric mixer.)
Prepare a 9”x9” baking dish. Pour the lentil filling into the dish and smooth it flat with a spatula. Spoon the mashed potatoes carefully on top. Spread evenly over all of the filling, making sure the potatoes meet the edge of the dish.
Place the dish on a baking sheet in case there is any overflow while baking. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes.
Note: This recipe is very versatile. Use whatever vegetables you have available for the filling. Lentils are an affordable ingredient that can be purchased in bulk from New Pioneer Food Co-op or Natural Grocers.
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Autumn has arrived in the Midwest, bringing with it a craving for cool weather comfort foods.
For many Iowans, this means the return of soups, stews and hot casseroles.
The casserole, an all-in-one meal baked and served in the same dish, is a Midwest specialty. It tends to include a medley of meats, vegetables and starches.
Its scope is vast, and many countries have their own traditional one-dish recipes. A classic from across the Atlantic is the shepherd’s pie, sometimes known as cottage pie.
Simple yet beloved, the shepherd’s pie is thought to have become popular sometime in the late 18th century in England and Ireland. Made with minced meat, gravy, vegetables, and topped with potatoes, the savory dish was both affordable and filling. It was an easy way for family cooks to use leftover food scraps, but also became a taste of home at pubs and restaurants.
Today, shepherd’s pie is still a savory staple in the British Isles. It has also become a hearty favorite in North America.
For vegans worldwide who love this cozy dish, as well as anyone looking for a healthier alternative, a few simple alterations provide the desired flavor and warmth without the cruelty and cholesterol. It is easy to exchange minced meat for lentils, which are high in protein, fiber and vitamins.
Butter and milk can be exchanged for vegan butter and oat or almond milk. Vegan Worcestershire sauce, an ingredient I personally like to use in my shepherd’s pie, can be found at most grocery stores. Regular Worcestershire sauce often contains anchovies, an unnecessary additive.
This vegan shepherd’s pie recipe is more nutritious, budget-friendly, just as comforting, and doesn’t require animals to be killed or harmed to satisfy our taste buds. As the days become shorter and we seek solace from cold nights in warm kitchens, a hot dish like this one is a rewarding way to welcome fall.