Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Back in my meat-eating days, shepherd’s pie was one of my staple winter meals. Savory, warming, and filling, it’s just the thing for a blustery night. It’s back on the menu, thanks to my meatless version, which still hits all those savory notes.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
Yield: 4 servings

4 russet potatoes
Several tablespoons of chives, minced

2 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 cups potatoes, cut into 3/4″ cubes
2 carrots, medium cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 parsnip, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 cups mushrooms, cut into quarters
1 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound sautéed  tempeh
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup mushroom broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 teaspoon flour, guar gum, or xanthan powder

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat, and then oil an 8×8-inch casserole dish with olive oil.

Clean and cut potatoes, carrots, and parsnip into small pieces and place in the pot to boil for about 5 minutes.

While the root vegetables are cooking, prepare the filling. Pour the olive oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and mushrooms, and sauté until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Turn heat to low.

Place a 10-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, wait another 10 seconds or so, then swirl to coat the pan.

When the pan is hot enough to sizzle a bread crumb, add the tempeh and spread it into a single layer. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tempeh turns golden brown on all surfaces. If it appears to be sticking, push it to one side, lightly spray the pan with nonstick spray—or add up to another tablespoon of oil—and then resume sautéing until all surfaces are golden.

Pour off any juices the mushrooms have released, then add the tempeh to the vegetable pan and add potato cubes, tomato paste, mushroom broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Add some cold water to a small bowl and whisk in the thickening (flour, guar gum, or xanthan powder) until it’s smooth and thickened, then add back into the pan, whisking to mix. Bring to a boil, increase the heat to medium-high, and reduce the juices for 10 to 12 minutes. There should be very little juice left in the pan. Pour the filling into a baking pan or small casserole dish.

Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them, toss them in a large bowl and mash well. Add the minced chives and salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon the mashed potatoes over top of the filling in the casserole dish, spreading to cover evenly. Alternatively, you can pipe the mashed potatoes into rows of fluted pyramids or long rows of wavy ribbons (my sweetie created the pretty piping in the photo). Bake for about 20-40 minutes, until the top just starts to brown. Remove and let sit a few minutes before serving.