Look at these photos; doesn’t that dish look hearty and meaty? That’s because it is, but without a trace of meat! Shepherd’s Vegetarian Pie is a perfect family dinner recipe for both vegetarians and their meat eating loved ones!
This post and its photos were updated February 19, 2018.
A dinner consisting of Shepherd’s Pie was never a common occurrence for me as a child, and even my adult life didn’t see much of it. Even though Shepherd’s Pie is such a classic dish – and so common in North American households – it just wasn’t something I was exposed to.
My mom would prepare dishes that were similar to a Shepherd’s Pie, but not quite. Her dish had the ground beef, gravy, and veggies, but they were not assembled like a pie; it was more a casserole of sorts.
A few years ago, I met someone who, quite frankly, made a great tasting Shepherd’s Pie, but it was extremely simple. They would use ground beef, mashed potatoes, and canned cream corn. There were a few other ingredients and seasonings, but that was the jest of it.
Fast forward to sharing a home with the vegetarian, and the ground beef is out of the question. Luckily, a good Shepherd’s Pie can still be had by substituting the ground beef with textured vegetable protein, or by adding lentils. You can really pile in the veggies when preparing this dish, and best of all, robust, rustic, root vegetables will work best.
I have to tell you, when John.e and I moved in together back in early 2013, I really don’t think I was as prepared as I thought I was to live with a vegetarian. I’m a Newfoundlander; vegetarianism was unheard of!
It was February 8th. Right in the middle of a snow storm. I remember our moving truck being stuck in the snow and we had to shovel it out. What a nightmare! I remember thinking that the storm was a sign and that I should back out of the move.
Fast forward to present day, there are still a few times that I wish I had backed out, not because he’s not awesome and great, but because the vegetarian thing is very hard to deal with sometimes.
If you’re a meat eater, and the person in your home that is responsible for preparing all of the meals, you must know what I’m talking about! It can be so frustrating – not only when preparing recipes for a weeknight dinner either. Imagine what we go through when deciding on a restaurant!!
Oh, and ordering take out or food delivery is grounds for divorce – not to mention bankruptcy. Take for example a pizza. We have to order two, because he’s vegetarian and I am not. I refuse to eat pizza without pepperoni, and he refuses to eat pizza without black olives. That can get rather expensive!
But, with Shepherd’s Vegetarian Pie, we have found common ground. We both love it so much. And so does McKenna, which is a blessing, because she’s quite the picky eater as well.
Now, Dear Reader, this dish is messy. The veggie and gravy mixture will bubble up during the baking time and spill out, which is why it’s important to place the skillet onto a baking sheet. But, you want that gravy to bubble up and get all thick and caramelized around the edge – that’s my favourite part!
This recipe makes a large pie, but you can cut all of the ingredients in half if you want to make a smaller version. This recipe is very forgiving, so you can adjust very easily. Enjoy, Dear Reader!
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Shepherd's Vegetarian Pie
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 4 stalks celery, finely diced
- 4 small carrots, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups corn, frozen
- 1 1/2 cups green peas, frozen
- 16 ounces Morning Star Veggie Crumbles, or your favourite brand
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 3 pounds potatoes, peeled, chopped, and boiled until fork tender
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the olive oil and sauté the onion, celery and carrots. Saute for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté for two additional minutes.
- Add the water and allow to cook until the water has evaporated.
- Add the veggie crumbles, green peas, corn, tomato paste, salt and ground black pepper. Stir together, reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer the mixture to a bowl to cool.
- Next, let's move on to the gravy. Wipe the skillet out with a paper towel, and return to the heat on a medium setting. Add the butter and melt until bubbling. Sprinkle over the flour and whisk into the butter. Allow the butter to cook the flour until the mixture turns a light golden colour.
- Add the thyme and rosemary, and slowly add the veggie stock one cup at a time, whisking well to incorporate and get out the lumps.
- While continuing to whisk, slowly add the veggie stock one cup at a time, and finally, whisk in the soy sauce. Reduce heat to a low simmer and allow the gravy to thicken. After 5 minutes, remove from heat and pour into a large bowl to cool.
- Whisk in the soy sauce. Reduce heat to a low simmer and allow the gravy to thicken. After 5 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool.
- In the meantime, mash the boiled potatoes until very smooth - you will want no lumps at all. Add the butter, milk, a dash of salt and pepper and mix together. Set aside.
- Add the veggie crumble mixture back to the skillet with the gravy. (If you prefer a dryer bottom to your Shepherd's Pie, you can remove a cup or so of the gravy before adding the veggie crumble mixture.) Stir together well and smooth out the top so that the gravy and veggie mixture is even.
- Spoon the mashed potatoes over top of the gravy and using an off-set spatula, smooth the potatoes over the gravy mixture until completely covered.
- Transfer the skillet to a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F.
- Switch from bake to broil to brown up the potatoes on top. Watch carefully as they can burn very easily. You can leave the skillet under the broiler for as long as you want - the desired 'brownness' is up to your personal tastes.
- Remove from oven. Allow to set for 5 minutes before serving.
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