There are so many veg shepherds pie recipes out there. Google it or search on Pinterest and about a thousand recipes come up. All laden with cozy potatoes and filled with mixed vegetables and legumes. That’s all well and good. I mean, I love comfort-food just like the next gal. But when I decided to develop a shepherds pie for WFFF I realized that there were some essential things missing from the sort of shepherds pie I truly wanted to eat. If I’m going to hunker down with a multi-layer meal it needs a range of texture, nourishment and most importantly flavor! And if I can make it colorful and packed with seasonal ingredients, all the better.
The result of much fretting and scheming and wandering through farmers markets is this beautiful, golden dish of plant-powered magic. A butternut squash shepherds pie that rules with a noble majesty over all other veg shepherds pie. Full of that sparkling, colorful, clean-burning energy that I so deeply crave as the nights get colder.
It needed to be quick (well… quick for a good-looking centerpiece dish).
It needed to contain ingredients that are easy to find at any market. The only thing maybe hard to find is oyster mushrooms, which you could replace with any common mushroom like button or shiitake or portobello.
And it needed to be made with intelligent techniques that boost flavor in simple ways. So the lentils are made thick and savory with a blender sunflower sauce. The carrots and mushrooms are glazed in cider and sauerkraut juice, for extra sweetness and umami. And the butternut squash is blended with coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, coriander and smoked paprika.
There’s nothing sexy about a bland shepherds pie, folks!
I know this recipe looks long! Don’t let that stop you. That’s what happens when a meal is made of multiple recipes squashed into one recipe. Each part is individually excellent, and pretty low-maintenance.
As for the goat cheddar on top, I lucked out and found some vegetarian hard cheese at my local farmers market. I don’t usually go for hard cheeses, but this one is tangy and savory and perfect. A little bit of cheese on special occasions just adds that extra something special. You could omit it to make it 100% vegan, or replace it with vegan cheese shreds.
Note: this recipe takes just slightly over 1 hour (like 5 mins over). You want to get the lentils, cider glazed carrots and mushrooms and butternut squash going all at the same time. Then the cooking time takes about 25-35 minutes. Then you make your sunflower sauce and stir it into the lentils. And you blend your creamed butternut squash. Layer it all up and bake it off again for 35 minutes or so. Voila!
Oh, and I brought this to an omnivore friendsgiving and it was a hit! Just in case you need some confirmation that this orange beauty is both vegan and omnivore friendly. 🙂
Peace and plants — Renee