Lots of you (and absolutely everyone who attended the dinner) asked for the vegetarian shepherd’s pie recipe I used to make Kate Sheppard’s Pie for A Feminist Thanksgiving.
Here it is!
To be honest, the first time I tried this I was a bit surprised it worked. First, I looked at a bunch of vegetarian shepherd’s pie recipes, and then didn’t follow any of them and just winged it with what I had in the fridge. Second, my track record making anything casserole-y, or traditionally British comfort-food based is pretty poor. I just didn’t grow up eating or making those kind of foods! So I expected a repeat of my fish pie/cheesy potatoes/macaroni & cheese experiments (basically inedible). Instead, I got amazing! And it’s not a fluke. Every time I make it its delicious.
This recipe makes a rich, filling, pie. Most vegetarian shepherd’s pie recipes use celery, but I use parsnips instead. Their warm, sweet, earthy flavour adds an unexpected element to the pie, and keep it from getting watery and bland, as can happen with celery. The sweetness of the parsnips and carrots balances the umami of the mushrooms beautifully. The purple onion and fresh herbs lift the flavour, and keep it from being too heavy and earthy.
I make this recipe as a vegetarian option, with cheese and butter, but it can very easily be adapted to be a fully vegan recipe by switching out the butter and making vegan mashed potatoes.
I’m a ‘whatever looks right’ cook, so every time I make vegetarian shepherd’s pie my recipe is a little bit different, but this is a good average of my ingredients list, and the amount of each I use.
Vegetarian ‘Kate Sheppard’s’ Pie:
25 minutes prep, 1 hour & 40 minutes cooking time
For the pie filling:
- 50g / 1/4 cup butter (use olive oil for a vegan pie)
- 1 purple onion, diced
- 1 large or 2 small parsnips, chopped in small cubes
- 3 medium carrots, chopped in small cubes
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 5 large portobello mushrooms, chopped in large cubes
- 300g / 1 1/2 cups green puy lentils
- 2 bay leaves
- a sprig of fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried – my thyme plant happily defies my amazing ability to kill all potted herbs, and waxes luxuriant season in & season out, so I always use fresh!).
- 4 cups vege stock + 1/2 cup more, just in case (when I’m out of homemade stock I use 2 Massel Vegetable stock cubes, and 4 cups hot water)
- 4 TBS tomato paste
For the mashed potato topping:
- 3 large or 4 small floury potatoes, peeled and diced in large chunks
- 3 TBS butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 cup white cheese (I used tasty cheddar (which is white in NZ))
Or, substitute your favourite vegan mashed potato recipe. I actually prefer coconut milk to standard milk in my mashed potatoes!
To make the pie filling:
Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onions, carrots, parsnips & garlic, and sautee for 10 minutes until soft.
Add the mushrooms, cook for another 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
Finally, add the lentils and herbs, stir through, and then pour over the stock:
Cover, bring to a boil, turn down, and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more stock if needed, until lentils are done (about 40-50 minutes)
Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems. Add the tomato paste, and stir through.
To make the mashed potatoes:
While the lentils are cooking, boil potatoes in just enough salted water to cover them.
When soft/tender, drain off water.
Add butter and milk, and mash till smooth and fluffy.
Preheat oven to 180/350
Spoon lentil filling into large circular pie pan. Smooth top.
Spoon over mashed potatoes. Smooth top.
Using a spoon, and working from the outside in, press the spoon into the mashed potato topping to form ‘camellia’ petals (because white camellias were the symbol of the NZ Suffragist movement):
Sprinkle cheese over the top, and pop in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the top is golden:
Confession: I was planning to take a beautiful picture of a slice of the pie, with some artistic salad and the whole pie in the background. Alas, Mr D got home from work earlier than expected and enthusiastically dived into the pie before I could photograph it! At least that’s a good sign that it’s delicious!
If you do make this, please come back and tell me how it went!