Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Before we became another one of those weird vegan families, Shepherd’s Pie was a staple in our home.  It also happens to be my son Ben’s favorite week day dinner.  So when he came to me shortly after we removed all animals products from our kitchen and asked if we could make Shepherd’s Pie vegan, I knew I had to step up to the challenge.
I’m a busy Mom to 4 boys so dinners sometime require short cuts. If my short cuts don’t suite your culinary tastes or you have a strong need to make everything from scratch, by all means change it up.  I cook with what I have and I don’t claim to be a chef so do what works for you and meets your needs.
From what I’ve read in my search for the best Shepherd’s Pie recipe to turn vegan, I discovered there are two ways to make it.  There’s a creamy way and the tomato-y way. Yes, I made that word up.  It’s my blog, I can do that.  This is the creamy way so you will be making a sauce that replaces what I used to use…cream of mushroom soup.  Gasp!  I know, I’m ashamed but it just made it so creamy and good. In this recipe I used a homemade cashew cream to make a vegan version of the soup and it turned out great. It’s not nearly as hard to make as it sounds.
This is a real shot of the Vegan Shepherd’s Pie I made and devoured shortly after.  It’s not a stock picture so you know this is the real deal.  It’s probably gonna look like this or likely prettier because I make food that tastes good, I don’t put a lot of effort into how it looks.

 

 

Ingredients:
1 -10 oz pkg Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles (Replace with 2 cups cooked lentils if you don’t like stuff from a package. If you don’t know how to cook lentils, Google it.  Knowing how to cook lentils is a right of passage when you become vegan.)
4 cups frozen vegetable mix.  Use whatever mix floats your boat. Mine had carrots, corn, green beans and peas.  I don’t use the mix with Lima beans because I was forced to eat them as a kid and I still have strong feelings about them so they are never allowed in my food but if you dig the Lima, go for it.
1 pkg dry onion soup mix (try to find it without MSG because you know they use that stuff to make rats fat. I’m not sure why you want to make a rat fat and I’m not a rat but I don’t want to take any chances either.  If you want to skip the soup just use some onion powder, a little sea salt and your intuition to make it taste good, go for it, but the onion soup really does make this delicious with minimal effort which I am all about.
1 Cup Raw Unsalted Cashews (cashews are the best thing to happen to me since I decided to ditch dairy.  They make everything creamy and delicious.  I literally don’t know how to function if I don’t have a couple of mason jars full of cashews in my fridge.)
2 1/2- 3 Cups Water
2 Cups Mushrooms chopped
Instant mashed potatoes (follow directions on the box and sub unsweetened almond milk for milk or use some extra cashew cream to make them creamy and delicious.  If you don’t like the boxed stuff, you can make them from scratch or better yet, make them for another meal and use the leftovers for this meal.)

 

Cashew Cream:  You will need a high powered blender for this.  If you have an old blender left over from you college dorm days, you will need to soak your cashews in hot water for 30 minutes first. In the blender combine the cashews and water.  Blend on high until smooth.  It will not be thick and creamy yet so don’t panic.  This makes extra so you can use it in your mashed potatoes.  On a warm iron skillet (or any skillet, it doesn’t matter) saute your chopped mushrooms in vegan butter until they are soft.  Then pour about half to 3/4th of the cream into the skillet along with the package of onion soup.  As it heats it will thicken.  Here’s the cool part…if you wanted to make this sweet for a dessert, you totally could.  Minus the mushrooms and onion soup.  You can make that cream into fettuccine sauce or coffee creamer or a zillion other creamy things.  It’s the best trick ever.  So now you have your “mushroom soup”, set it aside.
“Meaty” Center: In a skillet, add a little olive oil or vegan butter and put the burner on medium high.  Add your package of Beyond Meat and frozen veggies cook it until it’s soft and no longer frozen. I always taste test it just to be sure it’s done because frozen food generally don’t taste good unless it’s Nice Cream or a smoothie.  Once that is all cooked you can add your cashew cream soup and mix it up in the pan.
Now make your mashed potatoes using instant or left overs.  In a casserole dish pour the “meaty” center on the bottom and top with mashed potatoes.  You can top with shredded vegan cheese if you like or leave it off.  I left it off this time. Put it in the oven at 350 for 20-30 min.
That’s it!  See, that wasn’t so bad was it?

 

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