Ah, this is my comfort food. Shepherd’s Pie. I can’t remember where I got my first recipe, it’s been probably more than 20 years, but I’ve altered it so much that it doesn’t really matter. And I have so many variations I probably never make it exactly the same way twice. This last time was the first time I used baked tofu though, and it was a huge hit. It wasn’t that long ago when I said I would never eat tofu. It just didn’t look appetizing to me. But now that I’ve used it several different ways, I’m really not sure what I was so scared of. So for those of you who are afraid of tofu, don’t be. Give it a chance.
Basically in my Shepherd’s Pie I have protein (now plant-based) and vegetables cooked in a nice, thick gravy, tossed in a casserole dish and topped with lots of mashed potatoes and baked in the oven. Sounds delish, huh? It really hits the spot especially when I’m sick.
Before there was even a vegetarian in the house, I would use a pound of ground beef or chicken. That’s now out the window. So here are some other options, all of which I have used and recommend: First there’s canned beans (I prefer some variety of white beans in this dish). Also, you can use TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein). This Bob’s Red Mill brand is okay, but I don’t like that you have to boil the water to soak it in, sometimes I’m just not patient enough to wait. I really like this TVP from Thrive Life (and it stores well long term, I have several cans stashed away). I just soak it in water out of the tap and within a few minutes it’s ready. I’ve mentioned the baked tofu before and it did really work well in this dish. I prefer that texture of the baked here over the regular tofu. However, I have crumbled up regular tofu and thrown it in the Shepherd’s Pie before and it was just fine. You can even leave out the protein and just make it vegetables, whatever your heart desires. This time I used both baked tofu and chicken TVP.
First, I get the potatoes started. I used about 2 1/2 lbs. I like lots of creamy mashed potatoes on top of my Shepherd’s Pie. Any kind of potato will do…Russets, gold, red, whatever. Peel, chop and put on the stove to boil.
Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables. I always use onion, about 1/2-3/4 cup chopped. I use sweet onion. Then I add to that about 4 cups of chopped veggies. You have many choices: bell pepper, carrots, tomato, peas, corn, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, etc. Sometimes I will use frozen or canned varieties. A can of petite diced tomatoes will also add liquid so you can cup down on the broth a little. This time I used bell pepper, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and the last little bit of frozen corn I had. You don’t need exact measurements here. About 4 cups.
Somehow I ran out of Worcestershire sauce so I didn’t have it this time. You have to watch out for the ingredients as not all are vegan. I can find it at Whole Foods. So I put in some all-purpose seasoning, salt and pepper. You’ll also need 2-2 1/2 cups vegetable broth. Oh and Nutritional Yeast has been one of my greatest discoveries as I began cooking vegetarian and vegan food. I LOVE this stuff. You will be seeing more of this product on this blog. It really is pretty great. It has a “cheese-like flavor” that performed very well when I made vegan alfredo sauce. It’s a great seasoning and a must-have in a vegan kitchen. As far as I’m concerned. Read more about it here.
Ok, so while your potatoes are cooking, you start with your onions….add your veggies and seasonings….then your protein…then thicken up your gravy with some cornstarch.
Pour it into a 9X13 pan and mash your potatoes with vegan butter or margarine and non-dairy milk, salt and pepper. Dollop your potatoes all over the top and spread it out with a fork. And it’s ready for the oven!
And enjoy! Here’s your recipe:
- 2 1/2 lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped
- plant-based protein (pick 1 or 2)
- can of white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 6-oz package baked tofu, any flavor, chopped
- 1-1 1/2 cups firm or extra-firm tofu, excess water squeezed out and crumbled
- 1 1/2 cups rehydrated TVP
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2-3/4 chopped onion
- 4 cups veggies, any variety: bell pepper, carrots, corn, tomato, broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, etc.
- 2-2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- vegan margarine or butter for potatoes
- non-dairy milk for potatoes
- cold water
- 2 Tablespoons (or more) cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9X13 baking dish with non-stick spray.
- Boil potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes (depending on how big you cut them). Drain; return to saucepan. Add butter, milk, salt and pepper and mash until smooth; keep warm.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add onion and sauté 4-5 minutes. Add the rest of your vegetables, Worcestershire sauce, broth, Nutritional Yeast, salt and pepper; simmer uncovered about 10 minutes.
- Add your protein and cook another 3-5 minutes until it’s heated through.
- Pour 3 Tablespoons cold water into bowl or cup or jar-like container with lid; add 2 Tablespoons cornstarch and stir or shake to blend. Stir into vegetable mixture and stir until gravy thickens. (I like a good, thick gravy so I sometimes add more cornstarch, and I find it thickens more quickly on high heat and bubbling).
- Spoon mixture into a 9X13 baking dish. Dollop the mashed potatoes all over the surface and use a fork for spreading and texture. Bake 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned.