Sunday, September 21, 2008

Shepherd's Pie So Good, You Can't Tell It's Vegan!

~Ok, So We Ate Most of It Before I Got to Taking Pictures, So It's a Bit of a Mess!~

Shepherd's pie is one of those meals that I always loooove. As a kid, my parents would make it and even if they made enough for double the people, there was never enough. Thick, wonderful mashed potatoes with melted cheese on top, put under the broiler for just long enough to make it crispy, then the corn, and finally, ground beef, seasoned with taco mix, maybe with a few mushrooms mixed in for fun. That was our version, but there are almost as many versions of Shepherd's Pie as there are of apple pie, pumpkin pie - you get the idea. When I found out I was allergic to corn, and also didn't want to have meat, it seemed this all-time favorite was out of my life for good. Then came a wonderful book called "125 Best Slow Cooker Recipes" by Judith Finlayson. I have to say that everyone should get this book, as it is filled with great ideas for lots of wonderful recipes - even desserts and breads! Although I can't have a lot of them due to being allergic to many of the ingredients, this one stood out - a Lentil Shepherd's pie. I changed it a bit to my tastes and allergies and what I got was nothing short of amazing! Cooked in a slow cooker, it is a two pot dish - one frying pan for preparation work, then the slow cooker ceramic. Easy as, well, pie! It's so good, you'll forget it's vegan! It's also gluten free, corn free, dairy free (use a cheese substitute), egg free, soy free, meatless, high in fiber, vitamins, and nutrients.
Note: try to chop the veggies into approximately the same size. It helps with texture, and flavor.

Shepherd's Pie with Lentils (Modified from a Recipe by Judith Finlayson)

2-3 Large Yukon Gold Potatoes
1/2 cup Grated Cheese/Substitute
1/4 cup Vegetable Bouillon Water (Optional, if potatoes are dry when mashed)

1/2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, chopped
2-3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
2 Medium Carrots, chopped
2 Stalks Celery, chopped
4-6 Stuffer Mushrooms, coarsely chopped
Pinch of Sea Salt (up to 1/2 tsp)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp dried Thyme (double if fresh)
1/2 tsp dried Oregano (double if fresh)
1 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 cup Vegetable Bouillon Water
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
1/2 cup Green Lentils, Rinsed
1/4 Cup Red Lentils, Rinsed
1/2 cup Ketchup - this is the secret ingredient!!

Poke holes in the potatoes and microwave until cooked. Mash in a bowl, adding bouillon water if necessary, and set aside - be careful, they are hot!!
In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, mushrooms and celery and saute for 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the herbs, spices, salt and pepper and saute for another 5 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Add the lentils, tomatoes, stock and ketchup and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and CAREFULLY pour into slow cooker ceramic, being careful not to splash it - it's very hot! Top with potatoes, sprinkle cheese/substitute over the potatoes. Cover with lid and cook on low for3-4 hours, or high for 1-1/2 -3 hours, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the cheese (if using) is melted and bubbly. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 3-4 as a large main dish, or 6-8 as an accompaniment to a larger meal. Add a salad for a great dinner.


A member of planet Earth said...

Do cheese substitutes melt and incorporate like real cheese? I have some in my fridge, but haven't braved using it yet. I believe it is made from almonds. Any suggestions? Also I am trying to go low-fat, low-cholesterol, healthy, easy, no red meat, semi-vegan/vegitarian for a diet. I worry about getting all the nutrients I need though. What works for you? How do you "convert" a current recipe into a more healthy recipe?

Meghann said...

Hi Planet,
Most cheese substitutes will tell you on the package if they are suitable for melting on to foods - otherwise, maybe try grating some onto a piece of bread or tortilla chips and popping it into the microwave for a few seconds to try it.
As for trying the new diet, good for you for trying to be healthier! My biggest piece of advice is to see your doctor or a registered dietitian. They can steer you in the right direction to make sure you don't miss any important nutrients, as often just taking a multi vitamin isn't enough. Your body can only absorb so many nutrients at one time, so getting proper foods into you is critical.
Converting a recipe - really, it is all about substituting foods you don't want with foods you do (ie: olive oil instead of butter)and EXPERIMENTING A LOT, lol. You'll get things you hate to look at, let alone eat, but eventually it comes out delicious (or, just keep watching here for more recipes so you don't have to guess!)
Hope this helps, and thank you for visiting my blog, I hope to see you here soon!

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