Shepherd’s Pie and Gravy

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Shepherd’s Pie was originally created sometime back in the late 1700’s as a way for frugal housewives to make use of leftovers. Traditionally, the pie is a mix of ground beef, tomato paste, and red wine, topped with creamy mashed potatoes. Some versions contain peas and carrots as well.

Feel free to mix things up and add vegetables or other ingredients to your recipe. The result is a hearty, warming dish. Here is a vegan version of this traditional favorite. 

What’s in Vegan Shepherd’s Pie?

You can create vegan Shepherd’s Pie with many different bases. This one uses black lentils to mimic the color of the traditional ground beef. Other cooks utilize beans, mushrooms, sun chokes, or plant-based meat.

Why Lentils?

Of all the bases of Shepherd’s Pie, lentils are my favorite. They cook quickly and look like ground beef. In this recipe, we also utilize beefy, substantial cremini mushrooms. The two shades of black and contrasting textures of the mushrooms and lentils make for an excellent bite

Beans take too long to cook and aren’t ‘piece’ enough to mimic ground meat. Mushrooms vary so much from fungi to fungi and can end up water laden and mushy. Sun chokes are foreign to a lot of people and hard to source, hard to peel and take forever and a year to cook (and we love them anyway). Plant-based meat crumbles adds a whole bunch of fat to a dish where the meaty layer is the largest portion of the dish.

Your Shepherd’s Pie Has Two Layers

If you ever just want to make the top layer of Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, head here.

Top this dish with mushroom gravy for the final touch. We use wine in this recipe, so be sure you either cook all the alcohol off. Whether on or off the Clean Slate Cleanse, raw alcohol in a dish never makes for delicious food.

Make it a Meal

This dish is so filling that it is basically a meal in and of itself. Pair it with a simple Butternut Squash Salad for a decadent cold weather meal.

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Shepherd's Pie and Gravy

Prep Time: 1 hour Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
Yield:6-8 servings

Ingredients

For the Shepherd’s Pie

8 large or 10 medium potatoes

8 tablespoons vegan butter

1/2 cup rice milk

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion finely chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

6 ounces cremini or baby bella mushrooms

2 15-ounce cans black lentils or about 3 1/2 cups cooked lentils with a little of their cooking liquid, lightly drained but not rinsed

2 tablespoons dry red wine

1-2 tablespoons Bragg’s liquid aminos

2 teaspoons seasoning blend such as Spike

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Freshly ground pepper to taste

3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot

8-10 ounces baby spinach or arugula leaves

1 cup fresh bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs, gluten-free

For the Gravy

1 cup of finely chopped yellow onion

3 extra large cloves of garlic, minced

2 cups vegetable broth, separated

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2-3 tablespoons brown rice flour, or other flour

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon

Instructions

For the Shepherd’s Pie

  1. Peel and dice the potatoes. Place in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small mixing bowl.
  2. Add vegan butter and rice milk to potatoes and mash until fluffy. Cover and set aside until needed.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  4. While potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a medium skillet. Add onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic and mushrooms and continue to sauté until aromatic and mushrooms are slightly browned.
  5. Next, add lentils and their liquid and bring to a gentle simmer.
  6. Stir in wine, soy sauce, seasoning blend, thyme, and pepper. Cook gently for 5 minutes.
  7. Combine cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve in a small bowl. Add to lentil mixture.
  8. Add spinach, a little at a time, cooking just until it’s all wilted.
  9. Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  10. Lightly oil a 2-quart casserole dish or two deep-dish pie plates. Scatter breadcrumbs evenly over the bottom. Pour in lentil mixture, then spread the potatoes evenly over the top. If using two pie plates, divide mixture evenly between them.
  11. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until potatoes are golden and slightly crusty. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into wedges to serve.

For the Gravy

  1. Put onion and garlic in a large skillet on medium high heat. Sauté until translucent and aromatic.
  2. Add 1 cup broth, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down to medium-low and cover. Continue cooking for 10 minutes, stirring a few times to scrape along the bottom and sides.
  3. After 10 minutes, it should have reduced by about half, with some broth still remaining.
  4. Slowly add flour while whisking, so it blends in easily and doesn’t clump.
  5. Add remaining broth, wine, nutritional yeast, and sprigs of thyme and stir.
  6. Bring the gravy back to a boil. Once boiling, turn to the lowest heat setting and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes until it has thickened. Check on it a few times periodically, stirring the sides and bottom. If you want it a bit thicker just cook a little longer or slowly whisk in another tablespoon of flour.
  7. Remove from heat and remove the sticks of thyme. Transfer into a container suitable for blending. Using an immersion blender, and carefully blend to a smooth consistency. If you don’t have an immersion blender, just use a food processor to blend or eat it as is.

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