Let's face it. Some dishes are cover girls and others just have good personality. What you see above is my latest version of Shepherd's Pie (we took a vote at my house and decided singular possessive was the right way to do that). Loaded with tiny green lentils, carrots, onions, celery and mushrooms and topped with well seasoned mashed potatoes. Oh, and the picture above is "veganish" because I happened to have some good Parmesan in the house. If you wanted to substitute almond Parmesan or some other vegan cheese or even seasoned bread crumbs on top, I think that would work just fine.
1 cup rinsed, picked over french green lentils
2 1/2 cups water
Put the lentils and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for three minutes, then knock the heat back to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Once those are tender, strain them, but reserve the leftover cooking liquid. Add enough water to bring the liquid to about 1 1/4 cups. Stir in one heaping teaspoon or more of marmite if you have it. It gives a bit of beefy flavor. If you don't have marmite, you can use vegan vegetable bouillon (Not Beef or Not Chicken style) and feel free to replace the water with either a good red wine or stout or porter beer. The main thing is you want some flavorful juice to form a gravy later.
Rinse your saucepan (no meed to be fussy about it). Put in water again and chop up 1 1/2 pounds of potatoes into 1 inch cubes. I used Yukon Gold, but really any kind, even sweet potatoes are fine. Put on to boil for about 10 minutes or until fork tender. These can be held in the water until time to mash.
Spray or put a bit of your oil of choice in a skillet. Sauté the following (you can chop and throw in as you go--this goes pretty quickly:
1 diced onion (approximately 1 cup-ish)
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrot
1 package of cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves minced garlic (more or less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper
Once everything is fragrant and fairly tender, throw the drained lentils in and just let everything get heated together a bit. Stir in your 1 1/4 cup of liquid, stir, and taste.
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons of water
Stir these two together to make a slurry. Once your filling is up to a boil, stir the slurry in. It should only take a minute for the mixture to thicken to a gravy like consistency.
Once the filling is ready, pour it into a casserole dish (or if you are using a cast iron skillet, just leave it in there. Why dirty another pan?
Drain the potatoes. Add 1 Tablespoon of fat of your choice (I used olive oil for this batch) and add 1/4 cup of non dairy unsweetened milk (remember that almond milk I made the other day? That's what went in my potatoes). I seasoned mine with 1 1/2 teaspoons of Jack Stack all purpose seasoning (I need an intervention on this stuff) but any seasoned salt you have would be fine, or even just salt a pepper. Start mashing. You don't care if they are a bit rustic, but you do want them mashed and not too chunky. I left the peels on mine, but it's your dinner. Do what you want. Once they are the consistency of how you like your mashed potatoes, dollop them over the filling and use the back of a spoon to kind of smooth it out. I then took the tines of a fork and made little lines in mine to hold the topping of Parmesan. Making ridges helps ensure you get some browning.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until hot and bubbly.
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