Well the weather sure has taken a turn for the cooler here. With that change in weather, comes a change in the foods we crave as well. We still want to try our best to eat fresh, whole foods, but the craving for comfort foods is more intense this time of year.
One of our favourites is a shepherd’s pie. Typically made with ground beef and veggies, topped with mashed potatoes and then baked, we change ours up a bit and still end up with a hearty, stick your ribs dinner that satisfies the need for something warm and soothing.
By replacing the beef with lentils and chickpeas, we can get the heartiness of the protein from the beef without having to eat it. For hard core meat lovers, this may seem a little weird at first, but I assure you to give it a try. This shepherd’s pie is full of great, fresh foods, that will not disappoint.
1 can of lentils, rinsed and drained
1 can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 zucchini, chopped
1/2 red pepper
2 large carrots, sliced
1 large tomato
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup baby kale
6 medium sized potatoes
1 cup of butternut squash soup (I used Pacific brand, but you can use any kind, or homemade)
1 1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons of corn starch
2 tablespoons of vegan butter
salt to taste
2 teaspoons of dried rosemary
Wash and cut the potatoes in quarters and put into pot of boiling water. Let boil for 15-20 minutes or until they are tender and soft.
While the potatoes are cooking, chop up all the veggies and get them ready.
In a large skillet, on medium heat, put in the oil and heat that up. Then goes the garlic and onion. I cook them for about 5 minutes or so. Then put in the peppers, carrots, zucchini, and let them cook for about 5 minutes. I then put in the lentils, chickpeas, tomatoes and kale. Cook for another 5-7 minutes. Then in a small bowl, mix the warm water with the corn starch, mixing until it is dissolved, then pour into the pan and stir. Cook the mixture for about 10 minutes and season.
Once it is cooked turn of the heat to the skillet.
Once the potatoes are cooked, drain the water from the pot and keep the potatoes in the pot. Add the vegan butter and the butternut squash soup. Mash with a potato masher until smooth. If you feel that they are a little lumpy, you may need to add more soup. You can also use veggie broth but I really enjoyed the taste of the potato mixed with the spices that were in the soup.
In a casserole dish, spoon the veggie and lentil mix into it. Then spoon the mashed potatoes on top, covering the all of the veggies. This layer will be about an inch thick or so. Cook at 350 F for 20-25 minutes until the top is browned.
Take out and cool for 5 minutes and cut and enjoy.
I love the flavour of rosemary in the Fall, but there are certainly a whole lot of other spices you can use to give this shepherd’s pie a kick. I am tempted to try some with curry and cumin in it for a really different twist on the recipe. Let us know if you have a favourite spice you like to add to your shepherd’s pie.