Once November hits, shepherd’s pie starts to make an appearance at our house. It is comfort food, and depending on how you make it, it can also be a nutritionally dense food that the whole family can enjoy. The best thing about shepherd’s pie is that there aren’t any steadfast rules, and it’s economical because it’s a great way to use up vegetables in the fridge.
This vegan version is even easier to make than the traditional meat version. And it’s much healthier. The protein, fiber, and healthy fat combination of lentils, cauliflower and walnuts creates a low-GI “meaty” meal for even the biggest meat lover. If you’ve never tried a meatless version of shepherd’s pie, now is a good time!
Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
• 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
• 1 Tbsp nondairy vegan butter or extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 tsp sea salt
• 1/4 cup unsweetened, plain almond milk or soy milk, at room temperature
• 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 carrot, diced
• 1 onion, finely diced
• 2 celery stalks, diced
• 1 cup sliced mushrooms (whatever you have)
• 2 cups cooked green lentils
• 1/2 cup frozen corn niblets
• 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed
• 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
• 1/4 cup tomato paste, no salt added
• 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
• 1 tsp dried thyme
• 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the topping, steam cauliflower in a large pot fitted with a steamer basket until very soft (about 12 minutes). Transfer to a large bowl and mash with a potato masher or fork until it’s the consistency of mashed potatoes. Add nondairy butter or olive oil and salt, and stir to combine. Slowly add milk, 1 Tbsp at a time until it’s the consistency of mashed potatoes (you may need more or less depending on the cauliflower’s water content). Set aside.
For the filling, heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrot, onion, celery, mushrooms, lentils and peas, and sauté until soft (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients, plus 1/3 cup water. Transfer to a deep oven-safe dish, smoothing out the top. Evenly spread the cauliflower mixture onto the lentil mixture.
Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes. Turn oven to broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until top begins to brown.
Photo from here, with thanks.