Saturday, September 18, 2010

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

I don't know that I have ever really had a shepherd's pie and I question whether a vegetarian version can even be called shepherds pie. The main characteristic to me is the mashed potatoes on top (of course) but shepherds don't grow mashed potatoes, they grow sheep so without any sheep in this, is it still a shepherd's pie? And therein lies the philosophical dilemma that surrounds most vegetarian food. Or perhaps it is called shepherd's pie because shepherds possess a particular fondness for it. Well it doesn't matter because I possessed a certain fondness for it and I also feel quite partial to call it shepherds pie. Mine did not have any sheep in it, my pie only had broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini and onions in it and with a ton of creamy mashed potatoes on top, it turned out really well. It felt really hearty which is not something one often comes across in vegetarian dinners. I felt like I was out on the farm! That was a bit of a stretch but this really was good. A bit time consuming though and requiring a lot of attention.

This recipe began as every good recipe begins-- with some chopped onions in some olive oil. I came across a blog one day and it was called something like vegetarian cooking without garlic and onions. That was literally the worst sounding blog to me in the history of blogs. If the author would have added mushrooms to that list I may have exploded on the spot...
because if I could eat just one food for the rest of my life it might be mushrooms. Or cookies. But seriously, the mushrooms add a real "meaty" quality to this which is probably why I thought it was so hearty.

The incredibly attentive reader may notice in this particular shot that there are no peas which tend to be a staple of shepherds pie. Well. I bought peas for this and they are still sitting in my freezer because I forgot them. The recipient of this pie though hates peas and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to learn that he hid them from me while I was cooking. It was probably my own fault though.

I was lucky to have some help in the kitchen to aid me in the smashing of potatoes.

This was the same day I made almond butter so that is why there is a lone almond sticking out of the top of the potatoes. I would advise that everyone else skip this step.

I sort of made my recipe up as I went along but I looked up a few recipes in the meantime to get a reference point. I used a regular glass pie pan to contain everything.

2 large or 3 small potatoes peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper
1 small yellow onion chopped
6 cremini mushrooms sliced
1 zucchini diced
1 head of broccoli trimmed into florets
1 cup frozen green peas
1 roma tomato chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a pie pan or casserole dish.
2. Put potatoes in a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover them. Salt the water and then bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about fifteen minutes or until tender.
3. Meanwhile, heat up the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often for about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli, cook for another two minutes then add zucchini and cook for 3 more minutes stirring often. Add the mushrooms and the peas, cook for an additional three minutes. Add tomato paste and stir in then add tomato, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and simmer for a few more minutes. Transfer mixture to prepared pan.
4. Drain potatoes and mash, incorporating the milk and butter in the mean time. Spread evenly over the filling. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbling hot. Cool for a few minutes before serving.

Note: I used three normal sized potatoes and they seemed to over power the filling a bit which is why my Potato ingredients look so crazy. 2 large or 3 small potatoes would work best I think

This happy little pie, which I heard could be called a shepherdess pie because there is no meat and only feminine shepherds care about animals (haha) can be found here on meatless mondays.


  1. Way to make a meaty classic into a health-fest! Great post!

  2. looks great. am going to try cooking this for my vegetarian, football player, son. it has most of his favorite ingredients.

  3. Thanks so much. It definitely seems like the right hearty meal for a football player!

  4. Mission accomplished! My son really enjoyed this dish. I even had some leftover filling that I brought to lunch with me (yummy).

    I followed the recipe mostly, but added fresh garlic to the onion saute, substituted baby bella mushrooms (the whole tray),left out the fresh tomato and added less peas than called for. I have to say the juices from the yellow squash, mushrooms and balsamic did wonders as they mixed well with the tomato paste. Very tasty indeed!

  5. O that sounds great. I'm so glad you liked it (and that someone was able to recreate a recipe of mine)


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