Winter is on its last legs for the year but there’s still just enough time to enjoy one more hearty, warming vegetable shepherd’s pie. If you’re like me you’ve probably had the meaty version of shepherd’s pie (or cottage pie if you make the difference) in your pre-veggie days.
I’ve been vegetarian for more than twenty years but this vegan recipe tasted exactly like I remember it. The only notable difference was the texture: less chewy and less greasy, but all the flavours were there. Really, you can’t go wrong with potatoes and root vegetables.
We all know that British food gets a bad rap, but I think there are a lot of highlights; shepherd’s pie being one and mincemeat pies being another. This is just the first in a series of British dishes that I hope to veganize in the coming months and to be honest this vegetable shepherd’s pie is dead easy to veganize.
I took a lot of shortcuts to make this dish: a jar of lentils stand in for lamb/beef (shepherd’s pie/cottage pie), a package of mushrooms and a package of stock vegetables. Here in Spain, for one euro you can buy packages of mixed root vegetables for making stock which happen to contain exactly what you need to make a vegan shepherd’s pie. If you don’t have that then another good shortcut would be to buy a package of frozen mixed vegetables. Any mix of vegetables would do and shortcuts like these make this a great dish to serve for a weeknight dinner.
- 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) of potatoes, peeled and chopped
- About 1/4 cup of soy milk or other non-sweetened plant milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon oil
- Half a medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 500 grams (18 oz) of mixed vegetables: I had 3 medium carrots, 2 celery stalks, a chunk of parsnip, a chunk of turnip, 1 small leek. Alternatively, a package of mixed frozen vegetables.
- 400 grams (14 oz) cooked lentils (I don’t drain or rinse mine in order to help thicken the gravy)
- 300 grams (10.5 oz) button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon smoky paprika or liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Cook the potatoes in salted boiling water until soft. Mash with a fork, adding a few splashes of soy milk and salt.
- Peel and dice the mixed vegetables to approximately the same size.
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add the oil and sauté the onion for a couple minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and mixed vegetables and continue to fry for a further 5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the mushrooms and fry for 5 more minutes until the mushrooms begin to brown. Add the lentils, vegetable stock, soy sauce, paprika or liquid smoke, herbes de Provence, salt and pepper and lower the heat to medium. Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or until the vegetables are softened through and the liquid has reduced. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F).
- Add 2 – 3 tablespoons of the mashed potatoes to the vegetable-lentil mixture to thicken the sauce into a gravy. Spread this mixture into a casserole dish and top with the mashed potatoes. I used a piping bag to make rosettes, but it’s not necessary. You can also just spread the potatoes on top.
- Bake for 20 – 30 minutes or until the potato begin to brown. Check it often so that it doesn’t burn. Allow to cool for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.