Recipe: Vegan Shepherd’s PIe

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I’d been working on this Vegan Shepherd’s Pie recipe for a few weeks, ever since my fiancee decided that she was going to be a vegetarian again, which, in the wise words of Jules from Pulp Fiction, pretty much makes me one too.  Since that decision was made for me, I’ve been trying to find/create meat-free, vegetable and pulse-heavy recipes which are enjoyable to eat rather than comparable to self-flagellation (self…flageolation?)
 

As unlikely as it sounds, a handful of my friends have “strict ethics” and “a moral code” (whatever that is) which stipulates that they don’t eat meat either, so when they came round for Sunday lunch last week I couldn’t rely on my foolproof hosting method of cooking a big cheap cut of Beef or Lamb until it becomes delicious – so this recipe was my go-to.This was the second or third attempt at it and the one that I was most happy with – the combination of mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and flageolet beans gives a satisfying hearty sense of substance with an umami flavour that gives lamb a run for its money, and the smashed root veg topping is a lot more interesting than regular mashed potato.

Ingredients (Serves 6)

For the filling:

2 Stalks of Celery, diced
2 Carrots, diced
1 Large Onion, diced
200g Chestnut Mushrooms, smashed
100g Sun-dried Tomatoes, chopped
400g tin of Flageolet beans, drained
500ml Vegetable or Mushroom Stock

For the topping:

1 Swede
2 Parsnips
2 Large Maris Piper potatoes
4 Garlic cloves
Breadcrumbs
2 Rosemary stalks

Method

Pour a good glug of olive oil into a pan and fry the whole stalks of rosemary until the crisp up.  This flavours the oil and also makes them look cooler as a garnish.

Soften the onion and celery and carrots for about 5-6 minutes.  Strip a rosemary stalk and add that to the pan, as well as the sun-dried tomatoes and the oil they came in.  Keep everything frying to a few minutes, then add the smashed mushrooms and stock.  Simmer for a few minutes until the stock becomes all gravy-like.  If it thickens too quickly or the mushrooms soak up too much of it, add a few more ladles to loosen everything up.  Take everything off the heat, stir the flageolet beans through, and pour it all into a large baking dish.

Meanwhile, par-boil and smash the root veg that you’re using as the topping.  If you cut it all into 2-inch cubes it should take about 8-10 minutes on a simmer.  Drain into a big pan, add a glug of oil and the crushes garlic cloves, and batter everything around with a wooden spoon until it’s got an interesting texture which can be spread on top of the filling.  Top it off with breadcrumbs and the Rosemary stalks you fried earlier, and bake for 20 minutes at 180 Degrees C.

Serve with sauteed red cabbage, or seasonal greens such as Kale or Cavolo Nero.

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