I grew up in a very meat and potatoes family. When I started cooking without meat I often found myself craving food from my childhood – here I’m posting a pretty standard “meat and potatoes” dish that I’ve adapted for vegetarians. I also have a great vegan version with mushrooms which I will hopefully get around to posting soon. This recipe is perfect for those fall nights when you want something comforting.
A couple of notes if you decide to try this recipe. First, I don’t usually cook with fake meat products because of the high salt content. If you are totally against using processed foods you can make the entire base out of the lentils – you may need to add some extra root vegetables. And you will notice that I don’t add salt to anything else but if you absolutely can’t stand your potatoes without salt feel free to add some. Second, this recipe only calls for carrots but I often experiment with the base of the pie — when I come home from the farmers market with a tonne of root vegetables (turnips, rutabagas, etc.) most of them end of in this dish. Just make sure you cut them small enough to cook (or cook them beforehand).
Veggie Shepherd’s pie (Cheesy version)
¾ c du puy lentils (French green)
2 cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf
1 celery rib
1 medium celery root
1.2 kg (2.5 lbs.) potatoes (about 6 large potatoes)
340 g Yves’ original veggie ground round
2 med. sized carrots
½ c milk (2%)
1 tbs. unsalted butter
150 g of smoked cheese, grated (I prefer Gouda but in the photos we are using smoked mozzarella smoked in house at Il negozio nicastro a local business in the West Wellington area)
Fresh thyme to taste (optional)
Fresh ground pepper
- Check your lentils for stones and rinse the dust off them.
- Put them in pot with 3.5 cups of cold fresh water. Cover and bring the water to a boil.
- While waiting for the water to boil prepare your aromatics. Quarter the onion. Finely chop the celery and peel the garlic clove. Once the water has boiled, add these aromatics to the lentils and turn the heat to simmer. Cook for around 25 minutes. You want your lentils to be firm and not mushy – also many people would add salt at this point but with all the salt in the veggie ground round I usually avoid it here.
- As the lentils cook prepare the celery root and the potatoes. Basically if you already know how to mash potatoes this step will be very easy for you. Peel the celery root and the potatoes. (Note: if you have organic potatoes no need to peel them – I love the rustic look of the potato skins in a mash.) Chop the potatoes into small pieces roughly the same size. The celery root takes a little longer to boil so you want to chop these pieces a little smaller. In a large pot add enough cold water to cover the potatoes and celery root and bring to a boil (turn down to a simmer once they have reached a boiling point).
- As this point your lentils should be finished. Drain and if you want you can reserve the liquid to use for stock at some future date. Remove the onion, garlic and bay leaf. Don’t worry if you can’t remove all the onion – some small pieces in the lentils won’t hurt. Season with some freshly ground pepper.
- Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- Put the lentil mixture into your casserole dish – I use a 9×15” glass casserole dish. Mix in the veggie ground round. If I have time I start preparing the carrots (step 9).
- If your potatoes are ready, drain the water (you can also save this and add it to the lentil cooking water for stock) and mash them with the milk, butter and thyme. I usually mash them in the same pot that I cook them in and leave them covered until I am ready to use them.
- Prepare the carrots by peeling, and cutting into quarter or half moons. I like my carrots very crunchy in this mixture so I tend to keep them on the larger side. Add them to the lentil/veggie ground round mix. This is your base.
- Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the base mixture. Spread the grated cheese over top of the mashed potatoes.
- Cook for 20 minutes in your pre-heated oven. You can turn the broiler on for the last couple of minutes to brown the top. But, keep a close on it. Mike and I were sorting out our compost and I totally over-cooked the top of this pie.