Friday, January 16, 2009

Vegetarian shepherd's pie

I have now tried making this twice--the first time was for new vegetarian Ali and the filling was a mixture of standard shepherd's pie filling plus tempeh. I tried it again while in Philadelphia at Jocelyn & Nick's house and got a little nutty with the mixed veggie filling. The other big difference between the recipes is that Ali is doing the healthy eating thing right now so her potato topping was mashed with skim milk and olive oil...while the one I made for Jocelyn was full of cheese, butter and cream. Actually, I realized after the fact that I could have easily made a vegan shepherd's pie for Ali just by not using dairy. Well, if you are so inclined, keep that in mind.I had a ton of help making this by the way. I think Ali might be learning to cook. The vegetables featured in her shepherd's pie were leeks, fennel, carrot, parsnip and onion.We sauteed the diced veggies over medium heat in a little olive oil until softened and lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes.Neighbor Matt helped too, keeping an eye on the meaty version of the shepherd's pie while I worked on the veggie one for Ali.Like I said before, for the potato topping on the healthy pie, I just added a little skim milk for fluidity and a drizzle of olive oil along with salt and pepper. Then Ryan mashed them up.When the veggies were soft and browned in the pan, I added in half a block of tempeh, cut into small cubes and continued to saute for another 3-5 minutes, along with some parsley.I pushed the vegetables and tempeh to the side, turned the heat up and browned about 1 tablespoon tomato paste in the center of the pan for 1 minute or so. Then I added in about 1/4 cup of white wine and mixed until a nice sauce formed which I then blended with the vegetables. I also added a handful of green peas at this point, because I feel green peas are traditional with shepherd's pie. Then I packed everything into a little ramekin and topped with the mashed potatoes, to be baked at 350 for about 20 minutes. By the way, this is the meaty version, in the middle of receiving the potato topping.It turned out OK...I think I need to work on it still.The vegetarian one worked really well though!Like I said, I did something sort of similar while at Jocelyn's, but featured different vegetables, like shittake mushrooms and brussels sprouts.This time I conscripted Jocelyn into helping me. Apparently I am getting very lazy about prep work.I used rutabega, celery, carrot and onion for the harder root vegetables to be sauteed first.Fennel went in at the same time as the chopped brussels sprouts.Jocelyn adding cheese and cream to the mashed potatoes......while the veggie filling sautes nicely.After all the vegetables were browned--add them beginning with the onions, then other hard vegetables (rutabega, carrot, etc), then in goes fennel and brussels sprouts, followed finally by the mushrooms--I added these false meat steak strips. I totally regretted it because I thought they smelled weird and fake and because the vegetable filling was bountiful enough on its own, but Jocelyn and Nick said it was tasty, so I guess it's OK. I probably would recommend omitting or using tempeh instead, personally. Then I cleared a space in the middle of the pan and made a quick bind for the vegetables, with 1 tablespoon flour browned in 1 tablespoon butter until pasty, then mixing in vegetable stock until a thick sauce formed. Mixed all together then spooned it all into a baking dish.Potatoes on top......which you should sample because they are vehicles for cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350, until browned on top, then watch as it is devoured by hungry vegetarians.

5 comments:

j.bird said...

the veggie steak strips worked FINE, dude. in fact, they added (after a day in the fridge) a very lovely "stew" scent and texture, which is hard to get into vegetarian dishes, and is something that most veggie-peeps start jonesing or in the winter months. so i say, Yea to the Steak!

j.bird said...

there was fennel in it?!

Ali said...

I think, therefore I am

Anonymous said...

I'm going to try this. i'll let you know how it goes.

-kpolly

Raina B. said...

Okay, Dave and I did this for dinner Sunday night and had the leftovers on Monday. We used rutabaga, carrots, leeks, parsley, peas, and tofu ground beef crumbles with the white wine/tomato paste sauce. My mashed potatoes were, of course, of the heart-attack-in-a-bowl variety. It was absolutely fantastic. Bless your enterprising little heart.