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January 23, 2019

Shepherd’s Pie (Vegan)

by Anne Paddock

Shepherd’s Pie – that quintessential British favorite made with lamb, vegetables, and spices in a gravy sauce topped with mashed potatoes – is one of Britain’s most well-known comfort foods. Tradition dictates that a Shepherd’s Pie cannot be a Shepherd’s Pie without lamb (if beef is used, then the dish is called Cottage Pie) but I beg to differ.

A Shepherd’s Pie made with a variety of vegetables, beans, and spices in a vegetable broth sauce topped with mashed potatoes is one of the all-time great variations of this traditional favorite. And, the plant-based option is more nutritious (no meat, oil, or dairy) than the original version, easy to make, and totally delicious.

The recipe below easily serves 6-8 but I often make it for myself and then enjoy it throughout the week because it keeps beautifully in the refrigerator and all I have to do is reheat it (note:  mashed potatoes are always best fresh but reheated are still good).  Some helpful hints:

  • My version below contains onions, carrots, celery, green beans, peas, and kale but you can use any vegetables you want. Simply substitute a similar amount and adjust cooking time (i.e. carrots and onions take longer to cook than broccoli). Whatever you decide, its best to do all the vegetable prep (i.e. chopping and cutting) before starting the recipe.
  • Don’t overcook the vegetables. Follow the cook times if you want tender but firm vegetables.  The vegetables are initially cooked on the stove (deliberately undercooked) because they will bake in the oven for 20 minutes. If you prefer your vegetables softer, then add a few minutes to the stove top cook time and an additional 10 minutes to the oven baking time.
  • A key part of the flavor of this dish is in the spices added.  I rely on two blends that are variations of two recipes from the How Not To Die Cookbook by Dr. Michael Greger, MD, but you don’t have to use these spice blends if you already have your own favorite seasoning or if you simply prefer to use nutritional yeast instead of Nutty Parmesan.  The spice blends below (Savory Spice Mix and Nutty Parmesan) are staples my kitchen so I always have them available.  Every few weeks I make a fresh batch so that I always have them on hand.
  • I don’t add salt to this dish ahead of serving. Instead I sprinkle a small amount on the top of each just prior to serving. But, if you want to add additional salt and pepper, by all means do so.

Shepherd’s Pie (Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 6-7 medium russet potatoes (about 2-1/2 to 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, peeled and minced
  • 1 pound fresh carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 8 ounces green beans (I prefer the thin ones), chopped into thirds or quarters (approximately 2 inch pieces)
  • 6 ounces fresh English peas
  • 6-8 ounces Lacinto Kale, spine removed, leaves cut and chopped
  • 15-ounce container or can of red kidney beans, no salt added
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Savory Spice Mix (recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons Nutty Parmesan (recipe below)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (no salt or low sodium)
  • 2 tablespoons oat flour
  • 1/2 cup (approximately) unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use Milkadamia)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place 1-3/4 cup of the vegetable broth in a mixing bowl and add the oat flour. Whisk and set aside.

Place the potatoes in a pot of cold water and cook on the stove until tender.

While the potatoes are cooking, place the chopped onions, carrots and celery in a big soup pot with 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth. Turn the heat on medium and cook for 7-8 minutes until the onions are translucent.

Add the rest of the vegetable broth (that was mixed with oat flour).  Add the green beans and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the English peas and kale leaves and cook for 1 minute. Turn the heat off.

Add the red kidney beans, parsley and savory spice mix. Stir to blend.

Cover and set aside.

When the potatoes are tender, drain the water and add 1 tablespoon of Nutty Parmesan and the non-dairy milk as the potatoes are being mashed with an electric mixer (the liquid amount is a moving target depending on how fluffy you want the potatoes).

Pour all the mixed vegetables into a large casserole dish (12 by 9 or 14 x 10) and gently spread the mixture to obtain a flat surface.

Placed big spoonfuls of the mashed potatoes all over the top of the vegetables and then gently spread the mashed potatoes to the edges of the dish.

Sprinkle the top of the mashed potatoes with 1 tablespoon of Nutty Parmesan.

Bake for 20 minutes (uncovered).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Serve.

Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator and simply heat in the microwave when needed.

Savory Spice Mix*

  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

Blend the above in a food processor and transfer to an empty spice bottle with an air-tight cap.

*The above recipe is a variation of the Savory Spice Bland from the How Not To Die Cookbook by Dr. Michael Greger, MD. (one of my favorite cookbooks). My version doesn’t have garlic powder and has reduced amounts of paprika.

Nutty Parmesan** 

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup Brazil nuts
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon Savory Spice Mix

Blend the above 4 ingredients in a food processor. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

The above recipe is a variation of the Nutty Parmesan from the How Not To Die Cookbook by Dr.Michael Greger, MD. My version contains more of the Savory Spice Mix.

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