I want to contribute to the growing vegan blogging community in a way that shows you that being vegan isn’t hard. You may buy some new ingredients that you’ve never used before, but all of them are inexpensive compared to animal-based foods, many of them are much healthier for you, and most importantly, nearly never go to waste.
You won’t find that it’s not worth your money, for example, to buy a bottle of liquid smoke. You won’t find that your new nutritional yeast just sits in the pantry forgotten. So many vegan blogs are full of beautiful, gourmet recipes, and there is a place for that in all of our lives, but nobody can sustain that level of energy and creativity. You have to create simple vegan habits the same way you used to be in the habit of sprinkling cheese on everything. Let’s be honest, if I ate it anymore, mac n’ cheese would still be my favorite food. But I have such a satisfying routine in place of eating tasty and nourishing vegan food that I don’t miss it. My goal is to share that mentality with you, this month.
So it’s September, and the weather in Baltimore shows it. Not to worry that the humidity has let up at all, but it’s been quite cloudy and a bit cooler. I live near a college campus and the students have returned from their summer vacations (I miss those…) and everything is getting into an autumn routine. No! I’m not ready! There’s technically still 20 days of summer left!
Okay, so here’s my compromise. This lentil and apple shepherd’s pie. It’s a hearty and comforting dish, but it’s made with some fresh summer ingredients. In my post on making a delicious corn stock, I talked about my current CSA share and how to make every last vegetable nub count. Today, using that stock and more, I’ve created this vegan shepherd’s pie. This casserole had the full approval of multiple omnis, who didn’t even ask if it was vegan or what have you, they just said it was delicious.
And how does this recipe fit in with the theme? I used cooked lentils that were already in my fridge, the last apple from a bag of them that was getting old, potatoes that I had scrubbed and put in the fridge a week ago but forgotten about, and the rest of last week’s anaheim peppers. There’s some new stuff, too (as well as amazing corn broth), but all of those things were asking to get used! The recipe is very forgiving (both layers of it), and the instructions I give below are less laid back than my actual attitude while cooking, so feel free follow them exactly, or to be flexible and experiment.
Vegan Lentil & Apple Shepherd’s Pie
This made at least 5 delicious servings!
1/2 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed, outer leaves removed, finely chopped
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2-3 anaheim peppers, stem and seeds removed, finely chopped
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red apple (any variety), stem and seeds removed, finely chopped
4 tb vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tb liquid smoke
2 tb Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (soy sauce or tamari are also OK, but watch the salt)
1.5-2 cups cooked lentils
3 tb tomato paste
Freshly cracked black pepper & salt, to taste
Garlic mashed potato layer:
1/2 lb red potatoes, boiled until soft and chopped up (skins included)
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Plain, unsweetened almond milk (or other plain, unsweetened nondairy milk)
Freshly cracked black pepper, salt, & smoked paprika, to taste
3 tb nutritional yeast (optional, to add a hint of cheese-like flavor)
2 tb mellow white miso (optional, to add a hint of cheese-like flavor)
Flour of choice, on a need-to-thicken basis
Make the lentil layer. Preheat the oven to 350. In a casserole dish of your choosing (the same one you will be using for the final product), toss Brussels sprouts lightly in olive oil, salt, and pepper). Cook for about 15 minutes or until sprouts are starting to lightly brown. Add peppers, vegetable broth, onion, and apple, and reduce the oven heat to 325. Cook for about 20 more minutes or until all vegetables are softened and liquid is evaporated. Add Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, liquid aminos, lentils, and tomato paste. Taste mixture and add salt, pepper, and/or additional of other seasonings as needed.
Make the potato layer. In a large bowl, combine chopped potatoes and potato skins, fresh garlic, and a little each of almond milk, vegetable broth, and olive oil. Mash with a potato masher or a sturdy fork until mostly smooth. Add seasonings (pepper, salt, paprika, nutritional yeast, and miso) to taste; add additional oil and milk until desired creaminess level is reached. If creaminess is optimal but mixture is loose, add flour a little at a time. Make sure, in particular, that the miso is well-incorporated, as it can be a bit lumpy out of the fridge.
Assemble the casserole. Shape lentil mixture into an even layer. Spoon potato mixture on top and spread out evenly (my suggestion is to drop big ladlefuls in various places so you can just kind of squash them down onto the lentils, instead of dragging a spatula around everywhere and mixing the layers too much). Bake at 350 for another 20 minutes or until the top of the potatoes starts to turn golden and everything is heated through. Enjoy!
This recipe will keep in the fridge for up to a week, and also freezes great!
Are you ready for fall comfort food yet??