Recipe time

Last night, I had this insane craving for shepherd’s pie, so despite the supersaturatedly hot weather, I made up a recipe that D. and I could both enjoy. And really, wouldn’t the sheep be much more sanguine if they knew their keeper wasn’t lunching on one of their barnyard pals?

Vegematarian Shepherd’s Pie

The ammo

3 Idaho russet or 5-6 boiling potatoes, peeled
About 1/2 cup milk
A few tablespoons of butter, to taste
1 small onion, chopped
1 small package of mushrooms, coarsely diced
Spritz of olive oil
2 packets vegetarian brown gravy mix (I can’t remember the brand I found in the natural foods section of our supermarket, but I think it was some European brand — the package seemed inordinately pleased that the mix contained lovage). Any vegetarian gravy is fine — I hear Hain makes a good one. Or make your own, if that’s your thing. You could also use two big cans of tomato sauce and season them up to taste.
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce (I am a big fan of Muir Glen)
A couple of shots of Worcestershire sauce
1 package frozen carrots & peas, or other veggies you like — you can also use fresh veggies and steam/blanch/saute them to partially cook)
1 cup frozen white corn (more or less)
1 package textured soy protein (I used Morningstar Farms’s frozen)
Salt and pepper, to taste

The Strategy

Cut potatoes into chunks and plunk them into a saucepan with just enough salted water to cover. Cover the pan and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are nice and tender.

Drain potatoes and return pan to medium heat, shaking pan to dry the spuds somewhat. Mix in butter and mash with wooden spoon, old-skool masher, or electric mixer, depending on your level of lump-aversion. Add milk a bit a little at a time and continue to mash, until they reach a nice, creamy (but not too wet) consistency. Stir in a bit of salt and pepper.

While the potatoes are simmering, make the gravy: in a medium saucepan, add 2 cups cold water to the gravy mix (or follow instructions), whisking over high heat until thickened. Stir in tomato sauce and add a bit of pepper and Worcestershire sauce. You could also season it with Tabasco or red pepper flakes if you think it needs a kick. Turn off heat under pan.

Saute the onion and mushrooms with a smidgen of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. When the mushrooms have given up and then reabsorbed their liquid, add the gravy and stir in the textured soy protein and frozen veggies. Simmer gently until just heated through — don’t overcook.

Preheat oven to, oh, 350 degrees if you’re not in a hurry, 425 if you are.

Dump your filling into an oven- and broiler-proof casserole dish or baking pan, then cover with smashed potatoes. (Note: the first spatula-full of potatoes I plopped onto the filling nearly sank to the bottom. Moral: be gentle.) With a spatula, spread the potatoes over the entire surface of the dish, sealing up to the edges.

Pop the pie in the oven and heat for 15-20 minutes, or until nice and hot and bubbly. If you want to get really fancy, run the shepherd’s pie under the broiler (watch it carefully!) to brown the potatoes.

Serves 4-6 hungry trencherpersons, or makes plenty for you and your sweetie so you can have the leftovers for lunch.


  1. From lolaphilologist on 09/02/04

    YUMYUM. I will try on sunday.

  2. From editrix on 09/02/04

    Let me know what you think!

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