Friday, November 5, 2010

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

This is dedicated to my friend Stace, who moved away to California and is now residing in the beautiful state of Colorado, which is where she has wanted to be all along. When we met at a vegan restaurant for our  farewell luncheon, I ordered the Sheep's Pie, a vegan version of the well-known comfort food Shepherd's Pie. It was tasty. There were carrots and broccoli and mashed potatoes, but it lacked the substance of a Shepherd's Pie. My mother was a Brit, and I grew up on this classic comfort fare. Was there really a way to make it vegan and still satisfy that urge for a full bodied casserole that would leave me satisfied?

Add some barley for substance, and lots of mushrooms to replace the meat. We chose white mushrooms  for their mild flavor, and black mushrooms for drama. Julia Child's Brown Sauce  made with a full-flavored mushroom stock  transforms the veggies into a heart-warming, rib-sticking casserole that will conjure visions of British Pubs and roaring fires.

The traditional Shepherd's Pie was a way to use leftovers, so there were plenty of variations. Experiment with different vegetable combinations. If you are grilling or roasting vegetables, make some extra to use in your casserole. Otherwise, Vegan Shepherd's Pie can be too time consuming for a weeknight supper. This Vegan Shepherd's Pie will satisfy the urge for the traditional casserole, but I recommend that some of this be prepared ahead of time so you have it on hand.

Choose your favorite veggies
2 cups Brown Sauce
1 cup cooked barley
2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup onions, diced
6 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 cup fresh broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels
3/4 cup fresh peas
2 medium baking potatoes, scrubbed and sliced into scant 1/4" rounds
1 T olive oil to brush potatoes
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all ingredients except potatoes in a 1.5 quart baking dish. Arrange potato slices on top, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake covered for 45 minutes, then uncover for 10 minutes. Top brown potatoes if you wish.

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