by Toni Fiore the author of the Totally Vegetarian cookbook, and host of the Totally Vegetarian TV show, now online.
Healthy food is costly and complicated right? Wrong! It’s easier than you might think to prepare delicious healthy meals on a budget and you don’t have to spend loads of time in the kitchen either. One pot meals like casseroles, soups and stews are always a good choice. With this recipe you’ll see how cooking in layers extracts tremendous depths of flavor from simple inexpensive ingredients. This hearty Shepherds Pie topped with creamy mashed potatoes is one of my favorites especially served with a crisp green salad and warm bread.
1 1/2 lbs. cubed and peeled Yukon gold or russet potatoes
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup soy or almond milk
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
Directions for topping:
In a large saucepan cover the potatoes with water and add 1 tsp. salt. Bring water and potatoes to a gentle boil and cook until potatoes are tender – about 20 minutes.
Drain and return potatoes to pan. Dry the potatoes over very low heat, stirring constantly for about a minute. Remove the pot from the stove and mash potatoes with a potato masher or pass through a ricer. Add the soymilk and mix well until the potatoes are smooth. Add additional milk or a little water if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
1 cup Puy lentils
4 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 bay leaf
1 T. olive oil
16 oz. fresh mushrooms (button, cremini, or portabella)
1 1/2 cups finely diced onion
1 cup peeled and finely diced carrot
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1 T. tomato paste
3 T. flour
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 T. Balsamic Vinegar
1 T. low sodium soy sauce
1 t. dried thyme
Prepare the filling
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
In a large saucepan combine lentils, water, 1/2 tsp. salt and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered until lentils are tender – about 25 minutes. Drain lentils, remove bay leaf and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms are nicely browned – don’t stir them until they have browned!!! This should take 5-7 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.
In the same pot add the remaining olive oil. Set the heat to medium. Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook, scraping up any of the brown bits in the pan. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir just until tomato paste turns a rusty brown color. Stir in the flour and cook for another minute.
Add the balsamic vinegar and vegetable stock and continue stirring, scraping up all the remaining brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the soy sauce, thyme, mushrooms and lentils to the mixture and cook until mixture thickens, about 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat.
Spray a 2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Spoon the mushroom lentil mixture into the casserole and smooth the top.
Dollop the mashed potatoes on top and smooth with a wet spatula. Dust the top of the potatoes with the paprika. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 25 minutes or until the potatoes are golden and the mixture is heated through.
If making ahead, cover and set the pie in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.