Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Meatless Shepherd's Pie

I love Shepherd's pie. It's a great way to use up veggies that are still ok, but looking a little wilty, to create a hearty dinner that is similar to a pot pie. By doing this, you're cutting down on the waste in your kitchen as well because they may not be PRETTY vegetables, but because they're cooked down into a hearty sauce, it doesn't much matter. My mom and I decided to do some creating in the kitchen on this because we had a frozen Marie Callendar's pie crust that puffed up when we were making pies for her office for Pi Day (a post for another time).

As a vegetarian, it takes some creative cooking to make foods taste like they're "supposed" to taste. For this recipe, I use a vegan beef flavored base. Check out the review on my blog here.

This is a "use whatever vegetables you have on hand" recipe which basically makes a vegetable stew in a pie crust topped with herbed mashed potatoes. My favorite would be a mushroom mix (crimini, white, portobello, and trumpet) with garlic, leeks and yellow onions.

This one used the following for the filling:

*Crimini Mushrooms (sliced)
*Yellow Onions (half moon slices, then quartered)
*Garlic (6-8 cloves, roughly chopped)
*Red bell pepper (diced)
*haricots vert (fresh green beans) (rough chop)
*carrots (sliced into "chips" or coin shapes)
*celery (rough chop)
*frozen peas (add at the end)
*frozen corn (add at the end)

2 -3 cups boiling water
2 Tbs. Better than Bouillon Vegan No Beef stock (more or less based on your personal tastes)
1-2 Tbs corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water or broth

1-2 lbs of potatoes (new, red, yukon gold, peeled russets, whatever you like for mashed potatoes), boiled in salted water
4 Tbs butter or margarine
1/4 cup sour cream or sour cream substitute
1/4 cup reserved boiling liquid
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/4 cup fresh chopped scallions or chives
salt and pepper to taste

Lazy way 1 - buy a vegan frozen pie crust and pre-bake it according to the directions. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't puff up in the middle.
Lazy way 2 - make a box of vegetarian stuffing, put it in the bottom of a round dish and up the sides, then bake it off for about 20 minutes at 350.

1) Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil, add your chopped potatoes, and cook til fork tender; drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the water, and place in a mixing bowl or back in the pot to be mashed. Mix in the water, the butter, sour cream, scallions, and parsley, and mash til smooth enough to feed through a piping bag with a large tip.

2) Over medium-high heat, sautee all but the frozen vegetables in some olive oil and sea-salt until they are soft, but not mushy.

3) Mix the vegan beef base into the hot water, and pour over the vegetables. Bring to a boil. Ladle out 1/4 cup of broth (give or take) into a small bowl and stir in the cornstarch. Pour back into the vegetables and broth, and cook til it has thickened up like a stew or gravy. Repeat this step if you need to thicken it more. Just be sure to cook out the cornstarch taste.(I think a little thicker is better since it won't soak the pie crust). At this point, stir in your frozen corn and peas.

4) Pour the veggie-gravy mix into the cooled pie crust. Using either a cookie scoop or a piping bag (I used the cookie scoop on this one) start topping the mixture with the mashed potatoes in a decorative design. If you scoop the potatoes, you can gently press them down and make them look like scallops on top of the pie.

5) Top the potatoes with a generous dose of paprika to aid in browning. I also sprayed a little bit of Pam on top to help it get a crunchy golden-brown color.

6) Bake at 375ยบ for about a half hour or until the potatoes are golden, and the gravy is bubbling around the edges.

Serve up with a dollop of sour cream and any left-over chives/scallions/parsley.

Add vegetables of your liking; I think eggplant would be good in this. You can, of course add meat or the meat substitute of your choice (Gardein supposedly makes a delicious meat crumble). By changing the beef base and certain veggies, you could make this a "chicken" pot pie instead.

Some shredded sharp cheddar cheese in the potatoes would be yummy too.

You could also put these in small ramekins and bake individual sized pies for each family member.

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