Veggie shepherd’s pie

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I love how this pie looks like it took ages to make, but it’s really a dead simple beginner friendly recipe. Shepherd’s pie is basically meatpie filling baked in a casserole dish with a mashed potato crust on top. My vegan version swaps out the traditional lamb meat for lentils – this shepherd doesn’t eat his sheep. 🙂

As with meatpies you can really have fun with the filling. Put in more of your favourite ingredients, take out whatever you don’t like so much. Feel free to break the rules with the recipe. There are only two things you need to remember. One is to add some sort of milk and fat to the mashed potatoes – this makes a fluffy crust as opposed to a heavy, starchy paste on top of your pie. Second, make sure the filling is thick and very sticky. Too watery and the pie won’t stand.

So are you ready to impress your friends/mum/significant other with this elaborate looking, deceptively simple pie? Let’s make it!

What you will need for the filling:

The ingredients make enough pie filling to fill a casserole dish 20 cm wide, 35 cm long and 5 cm deep.  Adjust the quantities to fit your own baking dish.

+ 5 cups lentils, pre-soaked for at least 6 hours

+ 8 large or 12 medium size tomatoes, chopped (I used a variety with low water content; if you use the watery kind, you’ll need more tomatoes)

+ 1 medium size butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and chopped into big cubes

+ 1 handful green beans, diced

+ 2 cups frozen peas,

+ 2 cups frozen sweetcorn

+ 3 large carrots, diced

+ 1 large onion, diced

+ 4 tbsp iru (fermented locust bean)

+ 10 medium or 6 large chestnut mushrooms, diced

+ 4 tbsp olive oil (or other vegetable oil)

+ 1 cup flour (I use quinoa-oats flour)

+ Spices: paprika, thyme, ground coriander, black pepper, chili pepper, salt

What you will need for the crust:

+ 15 large or 18 medium size irish potatoes, peeled and chopped into small cubes

+ 1 cup almond milk

+ 6 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil (you can also use margarine or a plant based butter like coconut butter)

+ Spices: Thyme, salt (optional: turmeric for golden colour; I find turmeric doesn’t go well with coconut oil, so use a different oil if you’re using turmeric)

How to make it

1. Rinse and boil the lentils for 30 minutes or until they get really soft and start to break down. Don’t add salt to the water until 5 mins before you turn off the heat – the salt will prevent the lentils from absorbing water. When they get soft, add salt and chili pepper to your taste.

2. Boil the squash for 20 mins or until soft and mushy. Drain the water when it’s done and set aside.

3. In a large pot or saucepan, sautee the onions in the olive oil until they are translucent. Add the tomatoes, stir and cover the pot. Cook on medium heat for 30 mins, until the tomatoes break down and release water. Sprinkle in black pepper, salt and thyme; leave the pot uncovered and simmer for another 20-30 mins, stirring occasionally so the contents don’t stick to the pot. When the tomatoes darken and become a thick sticky paste, turn off the heat, cover the pot and set aside.

4. Boil the peas in a little water for about 10 mins, and drain the water.

5. Add the squash, lentils, green beans, carrots, peas, mushrooms and iru to the pot with the tomato paste. Cover the pot and simmer on low heat for 10 mins,

6. Mix the flour into a paste (the consistency should be like watery pap) and stir into the mixture. Cover the pot and let simmer for 5 mins, then turn off the heat.

For the pie crust:

7. Boil the potatoes until very soft. Drain and mash into a paste (you can use use a food processor, potato masher or even the wooden ladle for making eba)

8. Add the almond milk, a pinch of salt, thyme and coconut oil and mix well.

And now you’re ready to make the pie:

9. Spoon the filling into your baking dish, pressing it down into the corners to remove any air bubbles. You want to keep the surface flat and even.
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10. Spoon the potato mixture over the filling in small amounts, spreading it out flat and pushing it to the edges and corners of the baking dish as you go. I recommend doing a thin layer to completely cover the filling first, then adding layers on top until the potato mix is all gone. Use a fork to draw patterns in the crust (this is not just for fun – doing this makes little ‘mountain peaks’ in the crust which give a nice crunch when baked)
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11. Bake the pie on the medium gas mark for 45 mins to an hour until the crust is browned and doesn’t give way when you tap it.
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Tips: Let the pie rest for 20 mins after taking it out, before you cut into it. This will allow the filling to set so it doesn’t spill all over the place. For leftovers, slice the pie into single servings and freeze separately to make reheating easier.

Enoy!

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