Sunday, February 07, 2016

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

I know I’ve made a vegan shepherd’s pie with lentils before, but this one was better received! The recipe is from Minimalist Baker; it’s got a mashed potato topping (instead of the sweet potato topping in my previous recipe), as well as a vegetable medley straight from the freezer bag, which definitely cuts down on prep work. I added milk to the mashed potatoes (and to the recipe below), because they were too stiff for my liking, and I had to use a bit more cornstarch than the recommended 2 Tbsp. to thicken the filling. This is a really great winter dish, savory and filling!

For the filling
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups uncooked brown or green lentils, rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable stock
2 tsp. fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme)
1 10-oz. bag frozen mixed veggies: peas, carrots, green beans and corn

For the mashed potatoes
3 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes, thoroughly washed (or peeled)
2-4 Tbsp. vegan butter
lactose-free milk (dairy or vegan), to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Slice any large potatoes in half, place in a large pot and fill with water until they’re just covered. Bring to a low boil on medium high heat, then generously salt, cover and cook for 20-30 minutes or until they slide off a knife very easily.

Once cooked, drain, add back to the pot to evaporate any remaining water, then transfer to a mixing bowl. Use a masher, pastry cutter or large fork to mash until smooth. Add desired amount of vegan butter and lactose-free milk and season with salt and pepper to taste. Loosely cover and set aside.

While potatoes are cooking, in a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté onions and garlic in 1 Tbsp. olive oil until lightly browned and caramelized - about 5 minutes. Add a pinch each salt and pepper. Then add lentils, stock, thyme and stir. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Continue cooking until lentils are tender (35-40 minutes).

In the last 10 minutes of cooking, add the frozen veggies, stir, and cover to meld the flavors together. Also, preheat oven to 425 °F and lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish (I used an 8”x11” pan; an 8”x8” won’t fit it all, but a 9”x13” will work too).

At this point, you will probably need to thicken the mixture. I used a cornstarch slurry (about 3 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed into the same amount of water) that I whisked into the lentil mixture. Alternatively, you could stir in a few tablespoons of mashed potatoes.
Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Then transfer to your prepared oven-safe baking dish and carefully top with mashed potatoes. Smooth down with a spoon or fork and season with another crack of pepper and a little sea salt.

Place on a baking sheet to catch overflow and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the potatoes are lightly browned on top. Let cool briefly before serving. The longer it sits, the more it will thicken. Let cool completely before covering, and then store in the fridge for up to a few days. Reheats well in the microwave or the oven.

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