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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie





Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie is a fairly easy dish to make.  It has several steps but it comes together quickly once the potatoes and gravy have been made.  A full meal with vegetarian burger, vegetables, gravy and mashed potatoes can be ready and on the table in about one hour.  Your family will love this delicious meal, especially on a chilly fall or winter day.  The casserole can also be made one day, refrigerated and baked the next day.  


I never grew up eating Shepherd's Pie.  I don't think dad would have liked it.  He didn't like soup with everything mixed together so I'm guessing Shepherd's Pie wouldn't have been to his liking, either.  But I like Shepherd's Pie.  All that yummy mashed potatoes, gravy and vegetables all in one bite.  Oh, yes!  Good stuff!  It's a one meal dish but you can serve it with a salad or a green vegetable to round everything out, if you wish.  

Of course real meat shepherd's pie is made with mutton (sheep) but in my kitchen I like to keep the sheep in the pasture. So technically, it's not a Shepherd's Pie but don't let that stand in your way.  I use Yves Ground Round to make this pie but any brand will do as long as it is about 2 cups worth of veggie burger crumbles.  I actually used the Italian flavour (that's all I had at the time) and it was very tasty.    If you LOVE mashed potatoes use the higher amount of potatoes.  And if you LOVE gravy make 2 recipes and serve lots with your meal.  


Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Potato Topping:
2½-3 pounds potatoes (8-10 medium potatoes), peeled and boiled in lightly salted water until fork tender
2 or 3 tablespoons butter
½ - ¾ cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Secret ingredient: sour cream, optional 


Filling:
1 package Yves Ground Round or 1 Can Vegetarian Burger or 2 cups of your favourite veggie burger crumbles
½ cup diced onions
2 tablespoons oil
1½ recipe Brown Onion Gravy or 3 cups favourite gravy
3 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, corn, green beans, carrots, etc.), slightly undercooked to package directions OR use 3 cups leftover vegetables

Paprika, optional


Lightly grease or pan spray an 8x10-inch baking or casserole dish. It should hold about 2 litres/quarts.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees a few minutes before you are ready to bake the Shepherd's Pie.

Make gravy and slightly undercook the vegetables and set both aside.

Boil potatoes, drain and mash with butter and milk. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Use the smaller amount of milk if you like a drier potato.  If you wish you can add the secret ingredient to the potatoes: a good dollop of sour cream.  The sour cream lifts the potatoes from the ordinary ho-hum to "these-taste-great" potatoes

While the potatoes are boiling start the filling.  In a large frying pan fry the onions in the oil until just starting to brown.  Add the veggie burger crumbles and stir until heated through.  Add the vegetables and gravy.  Start with about 2 cups of gravy, and add more if needed, until the mixture becomes somewhat loose but not runny.  Save any remaining gravy to serve with the Shepherd's Pie.  Some people like more gravy served at the table.

Pour the filling into the prepared baking dish.   Top with the mashed potatoes by spooning the potatoes over the filling and carefully spreading out over the top.  You may make a fancy design or pull the spoon up from the potatoes to make little potato peaks.  Sprinkle lightly with paprika, if you wish.  (At this point you may refrigerate the casserole and bake the following day.  Just add a few more minutes to the baking time.)

Bake 30 minutes or until bubbling hot. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.  Don't burn your tongue. Remember the filling will be very hot as it is insulated by the mashed potatoes. 

Serve the Shepherd's Pie with a green salad or steamed broccoli or just eat it as a full meal.   If you have gravy left, heat it and place on the table for anyone wanting extra to pour over their meal.

Makes 6-8 servings.  

Make the gravy, boil the potatoes and lightly cook the vegetables.


When the potatoes are cooked mash them with the milk and butter.  You may want to add the secret ingredient of a dollop of sour cream.

My favourite potato mashers.  The one on the left with the light coloured handle has been in my kitchen since I was married 38 years ago.  The newer one on the right was a gift from Vicki.  She knew I was searching for a new potato masher for fear the old one would break.  If you don't have one of these search until you find one... THE BEST POTATO MASHER, EVER! (In my opinion.)


While the potatoes are boiling, start the filling.  Cook the onions in the oil.  Add the veggie burger crumbles and stir until heated through.  Add the vegetables and gravy.  Add just enough gravy to make a loose mixture.  Save any remaining gravy to serve at the table.


The filling should be loose but not sloppy or overly runny.


Place the filling in the prepared baking or casserole dish.

Carefully spread the mashed potatoes over the top.  I used the back of the spoon to pull the potatoes up in small peaks. 

You may sprinkle the top with paprika, if you wish.


Bake 30 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven, until hot and bubbling.

Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Hot from the oven! Don't burn your tongue.  Remember, the potato topping makes the perfect insulation for that bubbling hot filling.

Ready to dig in!


Shepherd's Pie is the perfect meal for a chilly Fall day.

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