Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

What is Shepherd’s Pie anyway- Historically speaking it’s some poor shepherd who apparently was so hungry, he had to eat his little lamb. Joking aside, It’s basically stew that’s topped with Mashed Potatoes. Shepherds Pie is the perfect vehicle for left overs. Whether you make it from a recipe or simply use what is in your refrigerator - it’s bound to come out tasting great. This Vegan version of the classic is a perfect dish on a cool Autumn evening.

I would say the most difficult part of this recipe is the chopping of vegetables. There are some shortcuts you can implement. For instance, you can use frozen peas and carrots. Substitute frozen pearl onions for the sliced ones. You can even purchase pre-cut butternut squash at many local grocery stores.

We’ve been working with our 16 year old teenager to get him ready for life without a live-in cook. We have him cook a recipe each week. His biggest complaint so far has been that chopping vegetables is difficult. For me (Julie) this is true. Obviously not for Stefen. But like many things in life- it’s really about how you look at it. If you decide that something is hard or boring or painful- you’ll be right. Maybe It’s time to change the story that you tell yourself. Chopping vegetables is easy and fun- Are you buying this yet. Maybe, maybe not. But my point is that life is what you make of it. Your attitude will color the experiences that you have.  

When I was in the hospital after my cancer surgery, I was very very unhappy. There were complications and I was very sick. As I lay there, helpless, sad and ill, I decided that I was going to be the best patient on that floor. I was going to walk, even though I didn’t feel good. I was going to suck it up and have a good attitude. It still took 2 weeks in the hospital, another surgery and 10 months of Chemo but my life is amazing.

So whether you choose to buy frozen, pre-cut vegetables or you chop everything by hand- take the time to make some Vegan Shepherd’s Pie this week.

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion - sliced
  • 1 1/2 Cups Carrots - diced
  • 2 Cups English Peas
  • 2 Cups Butternut Squash, diced
  • 3 lbs. Russet Potatoes, Peeled, cut into large dice
  • 1 Can Garbanzo Beans
  • 1 teaspoon Granulated Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 4 Cups Vegetable Broth
  • 1 Tablespoon Miso Paste
  • 1 Tablespoon Vegan Worcestershire
  • 4 Tablespoons Tamari Sauce
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1 teaspoon Rosemary - Chopped
  • 4 Tablespoons Corn Starch & 4 Tablespoons Water
  •  
  •  2 Tablespoons Vegan Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Plant Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1/4 Cup Parsley - chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt (or to taste)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. In a Dutch oven (or large pot) caramelized the sliced onion. Remove, then rough chop them. Put the onion back in the Dutch oven and add Vegetable Broth, Granulated Garlic, Onion Powder, Miso Paste, Vegan Worcestershire, Tomato Paste and bring to a low simmer.
  3. In a separate Pot, bring Potatoes and water to a boil. Cook until tender
  4. On a lined (or oiled) baking sheet, roast butternut squash until golden brown.
  5. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add carrots and allow to cook for until just tender (about 3 minutes). Remove and set aside. Do not strain out the water. Add Peas to the boiling water and cook for about 2 minute. Remove and add to the carrots.
  6. Combine the cornstarch and water to create a slurry. Add to the Onion mixture.
  7. Add Carrots, Butternut Squash and Garbanzo Beans to the Onion mixture.  Continue to simmer.
  8. For the Mashed Potatoes: Strain Potatoes. Return to pot. Add the Vegan Butter, Nutritional Yeast, Salt, Chopped Parsley & Plant Milk. Mash until smooth. (Add more plant milk if needed).
  9. In a casserole dish. Add the Vegetable mixture. Carefully add the Mashed potatoes on top until completely covered. 
  10. Turn on the Broiler and cook until the Potatoes start to turn Golden Brown on top.

Butternut Squash Risotto

Risotto… a love story.

Some foods evoke feeling and Risotto is one of the dishes that does that for me. I think I’ve figured out why.

As most of you who read this blog know, Stefen and I do most everything together. We’re married, we have a business together, we do yoga & go grocery shop together. I assume most people just don’t get it and that’s ok. It works for us.

We do have things we don’t do together. I like to swim, he hates it. He loves to ride his bike, me not so much. He loves cooking and me, I like to eat and I’m happy to do the dishes. My point is that most of what we do is a partnership that works well together, we balance each other out. 

Mostly I write the blog posts based on the recipe testing process. We talk about ideas and then I write it up. This week’s blog post stumped me. I sat at the counter in our kitchen and wrote down the ingredients and instructions as Stefen made the Risotto. It seems so simple and it is. And it’s Vegan. And it’s delicious. 

But what to write? 

So I asked Stefen about the rice. Yea- Arborio Rice. Not much intrigue there. But then we started taking about it. He had a funny story about making a Beet Risotto that was a disaster. “It tasted great but the Pink Pepto-Bismol color was disgusting.” He was teased for months by his cooks and the General Manager.

Then Stefen told me about when he first learned how to make Risotto.  “There is a romance with Risotto. You must dedicate the next 30 minutes to standing at the stove and stirring in the stock ladle by ladle. You pour your love and attention into it and people can taste it.” 

It hit me. Cooking is about dedication. Commitment to the craft. Diligence, resolve, enthusiasm, zeal, conscientiousness, perseverance, persistence, tenacity, drive.  We all hope to have these traits but it's an ideal that seems so hard to achieve. It's a romantic notion. 

When I first met Stefen I was a mess. I was in therapy, I was in the middle of a career crisis, I’d had a long string of disappointing boyfriends. I really had no faith that he’d be the guy. But he was attentive and dedicated to me, slowing ladle by ladle showing me that I could trust him. He let me simmer until I was ready. 

Maybe that why so many people don't cook, failure would be devastating. But come on, it's just food, right. And success is so delicious.

So, grab a glass of wine and take the time (it’s only about 30 minutes) to make Risotto. 

Stirring the risotto

Stirring the risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto in a Kabocha Squash Bowl

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 Cups Butternut Squash, large diced
  • 6 Cups Vegetable Stock
  • 1/2 Medium Onion, small dice
  • 1 teaspoon Grape-Seed Oil
  • 1 Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 Cup Arborio Rice
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Tablespoon of Yellow Miso Paste
  • 1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar

For the Mini Squash Bowl:

  • 4 Small Baby Kabocha Squash
  • 1 teaspoon Grape-Seed Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Granulated Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat over to 350 F
  2. Combine diced Butternut Squash and Vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer.
  3. For the Mini Kobocha Squash bowls: Cut off the top (stem side) of the squash and carefully scoop out the seeds. Add a 1/4 teaspoon of oil, granulated garlic & salt into the interior of each squash. Place top down in an oven safe pan with 1/2 inch of water. Cook approx. 45 minutes.
  4. In a Medium sized pot or Dutch oven, add 1 teaspoon oil until warm. Add Onions and a pinch of Salt. Cook until Onions are translucent. 
  5. Add rice and wine. Cook until the wine in reduced. 
  6. Add Stock/Squash mixture 1/2 cup at a time, continue to stir until stock is reduced. Repeat until the rice is soft and youíve added all of the stock and squash.  Use potato masher to incorporate squash.
  7. Add Miso, Nutritional Yeast & Apple Cider Vinegar, stir to combine. 
  • Risotto is incredibly versatile. You can make it with any winter squash (Kabocha, Butternut, Pumpkin, Acorn) as well as other vegetables including Mushrooms, Spring Peas, Asparagus, Lemon & Almond and of course Beets, just to mention a few ideas. Basically, you could fold in just about any fresh vegetable you can get your hands on.
  • We recommend some rustic crusty bread to go along with the Risotto.