Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

Jun 16

Although pies have been on the menu since at least 1303 (that’s the earliest the Oxford English Dictionary has traced the first use of the word), shepherd’s pie is a relative newcomer having graced tables only since around 1885.

Shepherd’s pie originated in the British Isles and usually contains lamb. A similar meal made with beef instead of lamb is called cottage pie. One cook insists that neither one ever contains cheese and another talks of blending cheese in with the hot mashed potatoes. If substituting one meat for another changes the name, then surely substituting beans for meat will also cause a change. So technically speaking, it’s not possible to make a vegetarian shepherd’s pie. However, now it seems the name ‘shepherd’s pie’ is applied to any casserole covered in mashed potatoes.

The rest of the ingredients are basically the same for either shepherd‘s pie or cottage pie: a mixture of vegetables, probably whatever was on hand, and depending on the season that could include onions, celery, or turnips. Some cooks add garlic or paprika and in Scotland they add bay leaves. The mashed potato topping usually includes salt, pepper, butter and cream or an egg. Cooks can exercise their creativity, but must include potatoes and lamb.

Cold weather and comfort food just naturally go together and coming home to the aroma of something good in the oven makes winter a little more pleasant. Although shepherd’s pie was traditionally made with meat, this vegetarian version is delicious and filling enough to satisfy even the most hardcore ‘meat and potato’ lover.

This recipe has been a family favorite for over twenty years.

Shepherd’s Pie

1 ½ cups black beans canned or ¾ cup dry pepper to taste
1 cup tomato sauce 1 pound potatoes, cooked and mashed
2 tablespoons tomato sauce ½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons tomato paste 2 tablespoons sour cream
1 cup chopped onion ¼ teaspoon oregano, crumbled
1 tablespoon butter

If you are using dry beans, it’s a good idea to start the night before by soaking the beans in twice as much water as beans. In the morning drain the beans, cover with fresh water, and cook until tender. If you are using canned beans, there are no prior preparations needed.

Saute’ onions. Mix beans, tomato sauce, tomato paste, onion, oregano, ¼ cup of water and pepper and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for twenty minutes. Spread mixture in 1 ½ quart casserole. Mix potatoes, cheese, sour cream, butter and pepper and spread over bean mixture. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.