Cooking a dish that both meat eaters and vegetarians will compromise on can be difficult. I was once in a predicament where I hosted someone who neglected to mention that she was a celiac and a vegetarian. Normally, I would prepare something extra for my vegetarian guests but I was only informed about this at the least minute. Suffice to say, this poor girl did not have many options. I tried convincing her to eat some chicken so she wouldn’t starve throughout the entire meal but no avail. A guest leaving hungry is every hosts nightmare.
Most meat eaters I know are reluctant to try vegan dishes, especially those that require tofu. Tofu is persona non gratta in my household. We tend to eat vegetarian dishes during the week and save meat/chicken for the weekends, holidays and special occasions. I generally prefer Shephard’s pie made from ground meat. I once ate a vegetarian version using ground soy beef. It didn’t work for me. I came across another version that even the meat-and-potato- types will appreciate. Like any other Shepherd’s pie, this vegetarian rendition is just as filling and plentiful. I made a sweet potato puree for the topping. I know people (some of whom are related to me) who have an aversion to sweet potatoes. I like the contrast of sweet and savory flavors combined. If you don’t, however, feel free to use red potatoes, Idaho potatoes, or rustic potatoes. Just omit the cinnamon and ground cloves factor. I used lentils in lieu of tofu. While lentils need 45 minutes to cook, I suggest that you grant yourself some time to prepare for this dish.
As a professed red blood male and a carniverous meat-eater (that bit was exaggerated although he does like his meat), my husband gave this recipe a thumbs up. In fact, we had to refrain from eating this entire dish.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 3-4 large sweet potatoes peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup of soy,almond, rice or unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 1 cup of cooked brown or green lentils
- 1 cup of diced carrots
- 1 cup of diced celery
- 1 cup of chopped mushrooms
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 cloves or garlic minced
- 1 cup of dry red wine
- 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 teaspoon of dried parsley
- Salt and pepper for taste
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place potatoes in a pot with water. Bring to a boil on the stove top then reduce heat to medium to the potatoes continue to simmer. Let the potatoes cooks for about 20 minutes till fork tender. Once the potatoes have been cooked, drain them and add the non dairy milk, cinnamon, and cloves. Using a masher or a hand blender, puree till smooth. The puree should be a little watery. Set aside. In a cast iron skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in onions and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and mushrooms and cook for about 4 minutes util vegetables are fragrant and tender . Season with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin, and parsley. Add the lentils and stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Then pour in the wine. Cook for another 10 minutes until liquid is reduced. Transfer vegetables to a 9 inch greased baking dish. Spread evenly sweet potato puree over vegetables. Place the dish in the oven and let it bake for about 40 minutes till the tips of the potatoes turn golden brown. Increase heat at the end of cooking for more browning, if desired. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tbsp of chopped parsley on top of the pie to garnish. Serve hot.
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