So, I have gone kind of vegan-in-the-home to see if it would help my cholesterol and allergies. My mom is overjoyed, and we’ve been making quinoa and lentils out the wazoo. Last week for her birthday I made a vegan shepherds pie that was actually delicious – it tasted exactly like it would with meat!!! And much healthier, too.
I adapted the recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Appetite for Reduction, but since I can never follow a recipe exactly, I’ll put it in as I made it and note the differences from the book.
First, mashed potatoes. My dad made these with his own mental recipe. Basically: peels and roughly chop 1 sweet and 4 white potatoes; parboil until squishy. Drain, let cool, mash. Then he added a bunch of herbs per my request and salt and pepper. Usually he adds Benecol, but the sweet potato was creamy enough to not need it.
Then the “meat”:
olive oil (for sautéing)
1 finely-chopped onion
2 zucchini (ICM calls for 1 zuch and 4 oz shiitake shrooms, but I don’t like those)
3 minced garlic cloves*
fresh tarragon (she uses dried)
fresh thyme (she uses dried… but I have in my garden!)
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper pinch
1 cup tiny-diced carrots
3/4 cup de Puy (French) lentils
3 c veg broth
1/2 c frozen peas (reheat them first!)
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
Sauté the onions and then the zucchini (and shrooms, if you have).** Add spices and herbs and cook for another 5 minutes. Add carrots, lentils, and broth; cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 25 minutes, or until the lentils are squishy and have absorbed all the broth. If it’s boiled away and the lentils are still hard, add more broth (and lower the heat). Add Worcestershire and peas; let sit 10 minutes.
The recipe then calls for the serving of the lentils over the mashed potatoes (or, rather, caulipots – cauliflower mashed potatoes), but since it was a special birthday meal we decided to make it look more like a real shepherds pie and bake it for a bit. We half-filled a Corningware with the lentils and then covered them with a thick layer of mash. This was excellent, as it really crisped up the top and the sweet potato gave it all that orange color that usually comes from the fat (absent in this dish). It was missing just a little something, so we individually added ketchup. Wha-bam! Excellent. Next time I may add Pomi into the lentil mixture instead.
*I got to use my new OXO garlic press! So much easier than my old method (slicing and chopping).
**The recipe says to saute the onions for 4 minutes. However, onions taste best caramelized, which takes much longer. Please, by all means cook your onions half an hour or more, carefully watched. Longer on lower heat makes for more delicious.