Cool, crisp air and rainy days are a rarity in California. So I thought I’d take advantage of this weather (thank you El Niño!) with this remarkably simple yet delicious vegan shepherd’s pie recipe by Minimalist Baker that I had bookmarked a while ago.
It has all the key elements of comfort food: a layer of baked mashed potato, a piping-hot vegetable broth to warm your soul and stomach, and lentils to add to the creaminess of the dish.
Below is my adaptation of the Minimalist Baker’s recipe:
- ½ large onion, diced
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 pack of Trader Joe’s cooked lentils
- 4 cups of Trader Joe’s low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 ½ tsp dried thyme
- ¾ bag of frozen mixed veggies: peas, carrots, green beans and corn
- Salt and pepper to taste
Mashed potatoes topping:
- 1 bag of Trader Joe’s Dutch Yellow Baby Potatoes, washed and peeled
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place the washed and peeled potatoes in a large pot of water (just enough to cover them). Bring to a low boil on medium-high heat, cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Since I used baby potatoes, I just kept checking them to see if they were cooked (prick it with a fork after 10 minutes, again at the 15-minute mark, and again at 20 if needed).
- Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them using a strainer, and add them back into the pot to dry. (I boiled the potatoes the night before and placed them in the fridge once they were dry. If you cook them the same day/night that you make the dish, just make sure they’re thoroughly dry).
- Put the cooked potatoes in a large mixing bowl and use a fork to mash them into a smooth consistency. Drizzle olive oil (or 3-4 tbsp vegan butter as the original recipe calls for), and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- While potatoes are cooking, preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, and lightly grease a baking dish (I used a 9x9 but the original recipe recommends 2-quart baking dish or a 9x13 pan.)
- Use a large saucepan or pot to sauté onions and garlic in about 1-2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until they’re lightly brown. Add salt and pepper.
- Add cooked lentils, vegetable broth, thyme and stir. Since the Trader Joe’s cooked lentils come out of the package as a hard lump, use a ladle to break them apart so that they’re evenly dispersed. You just need to warm and soften them up. Reduce to a simmer.
- In the last 5 minutes of warming the lentils, add the frozen veggies, stir, season with salt and pepper, and then cover. Taste the mixture every now and then to make sure you have the flavors you want.
- Use a ladle to spoon the mix into an oven-safe baking dish/pan. Be careful not to fill up the pan with too much broth, otherwise it will overflow in the oven. Put the baking dish/pan on top of a baking sheet so that it catches any overflow. I only filled up the baking pan with about ½ to ¾ broth (just enough for it to break the surface of the lentils and veggies).
- Carefully layer the top with mashed potatoes. Use a ladle or spatula to smooth and evenly pat it down. Season with more salt and pepper.
- Place the baking dish/pan (on a baking sheet) in the oven and bake at 425 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. Check on it at the 10-minute mark to see if the mashed potatoes are lightly brown on top, which signals that it’s done.
Let it cool a little bit so that 1) you don’t burn your mouth, and 2) it thickens (the longer it sits). Make sure that the dish is completely cooled before you store it in the fridge.
Another great thing about this dish is that it tastes just as good the next day (and then the next), and you can easily heat it up in the microwave.
Minimalist Baker’s recipe was inspired by Martha Stewart’s recipe