Monday, April 19, 2010

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Herbed Mashed Potatoes

Ever since mid March when I picked up a literally Costco-sized bag of potatoes at said warehouse store, I’ve been trying to find new recipes for them. I’ve never really been much of a potato person; bread is truly my starch of choice. So it’s been a bit of a challenge – the baked potato soup was just ok, the baked potatoes with broccoli and fresh cheese sauce garnered praise from Mike, but I think this has been the best dish so far.

Since going vegetarian almost three years ago, it’s something I’ve tried to work with on and off (even trying a lower carbohydrate cauliflower version), but each time it’s been too soupy or too bland. This time, I reduced the liquid I added by quite a bit, added flour, pumped up the savory additions to the vegetable layer, and added a thin layer of sharp cheddar to the top. It was a happy ending to meal I felt I was forcing myself to cook, rather than defaulting to what I call “lazy dinner” – cheese, crackers, fruit, and hummus.

I do try not to use meat substitutes TOO often, but I like the texture of Boca Crumbles in this dish. You can use other veggie crumbles or even chopped up veggie burgers work well.

I still have a lot of potatoes to work with. I’m thinking there’s gnocchi or lefse in my future…


Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Herbed Mashed Potatoes

Serves 10-12 with a side vegetable

4 large Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

12 ounce package of vegetarian crumbles

1 carrot, peeled and sliced

6 stalks celery, sliced

8 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, sliced

3/4 cup frozen peas

2 Tbsp flour

2 Tbsp barbecue sauce

1 tsp soy sauce

2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 cup water

2 tsp vegetarian “beef” flavored bouillon base

1/3 cup marsala wine or red wine

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 cup milk

1/4 cup finely chopped mixed herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary, etc - your choice)

2 ounces sharp cheddar, finely shredded

Salt and pepper to taste


Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

Fill a large pot halfway with water and add the potatoes. Heat on medium high, bring to a boil, and let cook until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.

While the potatoes are cooking, add olive oil to a nonstick pan. Turn heat to medium and add onions and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally and allow to brown. Add garlic and the next four ingredients, stirring to combine. Let cook for five minutes, then turn off heat and add frozen peas. Sprinkle flour over vegetable mixture and quickly stir to ensure there are no lumps.

Combine the next six ingredients in a small bowl, and stir into vegetable mixture. Taste and add salt and pepper to adjust seasonings.

Once the potatoes are tender, drain and return to the pot. Add butter, mash completely, then stir in milk and herbs. Add salt to taste.

Pour the vegetable mixture into the baking dish, then smooth mashed potatoes over, making sure to seal the sides. Evenly sprinkle cheese over the top. Place into the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Turn oven to 450 F and cook for an additional five minutes, or until the top is beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for ten minutes before serving.

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