Thursday, December 16, 2010

Shepherd's, No...Gardener's Pie

Shepherd's pie sounds weird to me. The idea of ground up sheep with mashed potatoes on top grossed me out a long time before I even became vegetarian. However, the concept of shepherd's pie intrigued me. The idea of hearty old Englishmen sitting down for their savory plate of piping hot shepherd's pie with a nicely browned crunchy top of mashed potatoes.When I came across a recipe for vegan shepherd's pie (courtesy of Susan Voisin), it not only looked like it would satisfy my interest in the original, but it looked like it was going to taste 20x better than the original!

If you try only ONE of my wintertime recipes this year, it should be this one. After serving it to my parents on a recent visit, my mom even makes this at home. It seriously is the most amazingly delicious way to eat insane amounts of vegetables all at once. In one small slice (although I can't imagine why you would only want to eat one small slice) you get a healthy serving of spinach, kidney beans, green beans, onions, mushrooms, carrots and celery. Can't beat that! BUT you get to eat them all smothered in a rich, yet surprisingly healthy gravy, and topped with a warm, creamy layer of potatoes, browned to perfection in the oven. Have I convinced you to make this yet? Okay, now gather your ingredients (altered slightly from the original of course):

2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk
nutritional yeast, salt and pepper to taste
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
8 oz. mushrooms, diced
2 cups vegetable broth
16 oz. can of kidney beans, rinsed
2 cups green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 tsp thyme
2 tsp fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp. dried sage
3 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
2 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
crushed red pepper
vegan worcester sauce (about shakes)

Boil potatoes in cubes until tender, then mash with soymilk, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. I like to keep mine a little chunky, but you can do it however you want. Set them aside and reserve one cup of the cooking water.

Saute the onions in a sprayed skillet until soft, then add garlic, carrots, celery and mushrooms and saute 3 more minutes. Add vegetable broth, kidney beans, green beans and herbs. Simmer uncovered on medium heat for 20 minutes until all vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. If the pan becomes too dry at any point, add some of the potato water. Add the spinach and stir until wilted, then add the cornstarch/soy sauce mixture. Cook, stirring until thickened. Transfer everything to a large pie plate or baking dish and spoon the potatoes over the top. Sprinkle with rosemary and cook under the broiler for 7-10 minutes until nicely browned.

Let the pie sit for 5-10 minutes before you cut into it. This meal-in-one is a serious favorite for very cold days and/or very hungry days. It heats up very well, and individual slices also freeze very well. Despite the large number of ingredients, most are staples in our house and the actual preparation is very simple.

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