Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

My friend Brittany hosts a Book Club every few months and we met last week.  We read a charming short book called 84, Charing Cross Road.  It takes place in London for part of it so Brittany wanted British themed food.  (This girl might get into party planning/themes more than I do.  If you want to see one of the many reasons we are friends check out her son’s first birthday party here on her blog.  Sherlock Holmes themed for baby Landon!)  When I offered to bring something to Book Club she told me she was making Shepherd’s Pie and asked if I could bring a veggie version of one.  Then she asked if that even existed.  I had no idea if it did, but a quick Google search showed it definitely existed-in many forms!  I told her I’d be happy to bring it, but I warned her I had never made a Shepherd’s Pie before so no promises.

My Dad is the KING of searching online for new recipes and then combining a bunch of different ones to make it his way.  I decided to try his methods and guess what?  It worked!  I was not sure how it was going to taste, but everyone at book club agreed it was delicious!  The best part was, I combined a lot of recipes and I also used a lot of vegetables I already had in my refrigerator.  This is a great way to use up your produce and you can make it with whatever your family likes.  I had a couple requests to put the recipe on my blog so I made it again last night for Meatless Monday and took pictures this time.  By the way, let’s just come to a mutual understanding that until further notice, Josh does not like the Meatless Monday meal unless I comment otherwise.  I thought FOR SURE this would be a winner because he loves sweet potatoes and he likes all the vegetables in this.  I was wrong, very wrong.  However, don’t let that keep you from making this!  As I mentioned, Book Club girls liked it and one of them even made the recipe already and her husband loved it…mine’s just super picky!

I don't know if my dad combined a bunch of recipes for this one or not, but I thought I'd give him a shout out for his delicious sliders he made last weekend for our tailgate!

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

1 T. oil
1 ½ cups minced onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 t. salt
Fresh black pepper to taste
1 stalk celery, minced
1 lb zucchini, diced
1 bell pepper, minced
4-6 carrots
1 C. vegetable or chicken broth
2 t. dried basil
½ t. dried oregano
Cayenne to taste (I used 1/8 t.)
1 cup lentils
1 cup fresh spinach
½ cup cheddar cheese

Mashed Sweet Potatoes:
4 large sweet potatoes
½ cup milk
3 garlic gloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup fresh parsley, minced

Most recipes say to peel and dice your potatoes and then boil them.  I was lazy so I just microwaved them and then scooped out the insides and placed them in a bowl.  However you want to cook your potatoes is fine.  Mix potatoes with the mixer for a few seconds and then add milk and garlic and mix until fluffy.  (You may need more milk depending on your potatoes) Stir in salt, pepper, and parsley.  Other recipes used regular potatoes, but I always have sweet potatoes on hand so I went with those and I think that’s what makes this so good.  Other recipes also said to add 1 T. of butter, but I didn’t think that was necessary so I left it out.

Preheat oven to 350. 

Cook lentils according to package directions.  Most recipes called for peas, but I can’t stand peas so I subbed lentils because I had those already.  I made these the night before so they were ready to toss in. 

Heat the oil (I used coconut oil) in a large skillet.  Add the onion and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until it begins to soften.

Add all your vegetables except the lentils and spinach along with your broth and saute for 7-10 minutes.  Add the herbs, cooking another 3-5 minutes until vegetables are tender and most of the broth is absorbed.  Stir in the lentils and spinach.  Remove from heat and stir until spinach wilts.  Stir in cheese.

Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 pan and spread evenly.  Top with mashed sweet potatoes and sprinkle with paprika.  Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly around the edges.

All the vegetables in the pan.

Lentils getting stirred in.

Spinach stirred in.

Spinach is wilted!

With the cheese and all ready to go in the pan.  I made a half batch so I have it in a smaller pan.

Sweet potatoes mashed and parsley stirred in.

Sprinkled with paprika.  Enjoy!

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