Saturday, January 14, 2012

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

Still on a mission to use up the wonderful winter veggies I got from my co-op this week, I decided to make the ultimate comfort food: Shepherd's Pie. Now, my favorite recipe for shepherd's pie comes from friends Gene and Helen, who, in 1994 or thereabouts, for the holidays gave their friends a printed compilation of their favorite vegan recipes, bound by a plastic coil spine. The recipe calls for shredded frozen tofu (which has to be done in advance) and walnuts (which my son is allergic to) so to the web I went for a new recipe.

The one I ended up making is based loosely on this one from vegweb. (If you haven't tried vegweb, you have GOT to! It's saved me literally dozens of times when I've needed quick recipe inspiration.)

As you can see here (bad picture of Emily; she was in the process of blinking), everyone LOVED this dish. And if you cook for a family, you know how wonderful that feels. As it was a cold weekend day, comfort food was on the mind, so I also served this with a thick brown gravy and not-so-good-for-you-but-so-delicious store-bought dinner rolls, heated in the oven.

Here's my rendition, which used all organic white potatoes, yellow onions, broccoli, collard greens, and carrots. This is that awesome, forgiving sort of recipe that allows you to put in pretty much whatever vegetables you have lying around.

You will need:

For the potatoes:
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • unsweetened almond milk (you can use any plant milk, to taste)
  • earth balance (you can use any vegan butter, to taste)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the veggies:
  • 1-2 tbsp broth (if you want this very low in fat) or olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped

(for the veggies here, you can use about 4-6 cups of chopped vegetables of your choice in place of what I used)
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli
  • 6 huge collard green leaves
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
And the rest:
  • 1 package Gardein beef skewers, chopped (you can use 8 or so ounces of any veggie meat substitute you like)
  • 1 tsp savory
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (any plant milk will do)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (don't do what I did, which was to sprinkle from the container only to discover that there was no sprinkle top. Oops.)
1. Boil potatoes. Drain and mash with the milk and butter, salt and pepper to taste.

2. Heat the broth oil in a large pan and saute the garlic and onion over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add the veggies and veggie meat and cook until veggies start to wilt. Stir in seasonings. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

3. Add the broth and 3/4 cup milk along with the cornstarch and flour. Let the mixture come to a boil, stirring frequently. Sauce will thicken up a bit. When all the vegetables are cooked, remove from heat.

4. Spoon the vegetable mixture onto the bottom. Cover with the potatoes and smooth them down. Sprinkle the top with nutritional yeast. Heat in oven for 20 minutes or so until top is slightly firm.

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