Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

vegetarian shepherds pie

Shepherds pie is supposed to be a peasants meal. I always thought it fell into the simple, throw together kind of dinner, until I actually made it. Granted, shepherds pie is easier when you use ground beef as it was originally intended, because you cut way back on vegetable chopping time (a bit of carrot, onion and peas are all thats needed). But this pie is vegetarian, and consequently, a hefty amount of chopping is required - I'm not even gonna lie- It's also a somewhat sophisticated version of the classic dish, elevating it with good red wine, fresh thyme, pearl onions, and very well seasoned, creamy mashed potatoes. It's a contradiction because Shepherds pie is supposed to be no big deal food, but that's not the case here. This is very worthy of company, candlelight, centerpieces, and a nice bottle of Zinfandel. Cue the snowfall in the background, and an apple crisp coming out of the oven for dessert because it's bound to be that kind of night.

vegetarian shepherds pie

To be clear, this tastes like peasants food. I don't mean that in a bad way, quite the contrary. It's rustic, homey fare that tastes quite like you might expect it to, vegetables bathed in wine gravy -which is just fine by me. I like food that tastes like it should, in this case, simple but classy.

I know you've been warned about the chopping, but if you had the time, I might even suggest chopping the vegetables up to a day ahead of time and keeping them in ziplock bags in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. Just bag the mushrooms and yellow onions together in a separate bag from the rest, since you add them in first.

In other news, my sister Kaylee had a beautiful baby girl two weeks ago, making me an Aunt to Paisley Sue! If she lived by me, I'd make this Shepherds pie for her and stock the refrigerator up so she had nothing to think about but cuddling that baby all day long.

vegetarian shepherds pie

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

Vegetarian pie filling:
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 a yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves
1 1/2 lbs (3 8-oz packages) cremini mushrooms
7 medium carrots, peeled and cut in 1" pieces on the diagonal
2 parsnips, peeled and cut in 1" pieces on the diagonal
1 1/2  cup cubed butternut squash in 1" pieces
8 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 cup frozen pearl onions
1 1/2 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 (750-ml) bottle full-bodied red wine such as Burgundy 
5 tablespoons butter, softened
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups rich vegetable stock

For the mashed potato topping:
6 large potatoes, peeled and cubed in small pieces
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup cream or whole milk
3 tablespoons butter, cut into thirds
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until it shimmers. Cook yellow onions and mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and mushrooms give off their juices, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add carrots, parsnips, thyme, and butternut squash and cook until vegetables are just beginning to get tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a bowl, pick out thyme sprigs, and cover.

Add wine to the now empty pot and boil until reduced to about 1 cup, 10-12 minutes. While wine reduces, mash together the softened butter with the flour in a small bowl until it forms a thick paste and set aside. 

Add stock to wine and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the flour/butter paste, then simmer, whisking occasionally until thickened slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Add frozen pearl onions, sea salt, and garlic powder. Add vegetable mixture to the pot and simmer, covered, for 35-40 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through.

While the stew simmers, make the mashed potato topping.  Place cubed potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water, then simmer, partially covered, until very tender, about 25 minutes. Combine cream, buttermilk, garlic powder, garlic salt, sea salt and white pepper together in a measuring cup. When potatoes are done, drain them and add them back into the hot pot. Drop in the butter and add the buttermilk/cream mixture and smash together with a potato masher until smooth. 

Preheat the broiler. When stew is done, taste for salt and add more if needed, then add parsley and frozen peas, and mix to combine (this adds a pop of green color), then pour into a large 3-quart (2-inch deep) baking dish. Drop dolops of the mashed potatoes over the stew then spread evenly to cover. Broil about 3 inches from the heat until top is golden, about 5 minutes. 


  1. Believe it or not shepherds pie (the meat version) was my least favorite meal as a kid. Of course it happened to be my brothers favorite so my mom made it often. Being that I'm older, you'd think I'd be able to get past this and give shepherds pie a second chance. I just cannot. But, this version does look pretty delightful. Well done friend.