January 17, 2010
My good friend Elise mentioned vegetarian shepherd’s pie a few days ago and I’ve had a fierce craving ever since, which was mostly a craving for tempeh and Grit yeast gravy. A Sunday afternoon is always a good time to putter away at such meals.
This isn’t a dish I grew up with, nor is it something I’ve made very often. I’m lucky in that I don’t really know what it’s supposed to taste like, although I’m enough of a foodie that I can make a pretty good guess regardless of how many decades it’s been since I ate a mammal. I generally don’t cook a lot of vegan versions of meals that would usually include meat, and having no emotional attachment to the dish gives me the freedom to just make something up without being hung up on finding an authentic flavour. My only real priority was that it be rich in protein as well as being a perfect vehicle for that beautiful gravy (one of my favourite flavours).
This is just a guideline, not a recipe. Something I can refer back to next time.
-about 1/2 bulb garlic
-about 1/4 head cauliflower
-approx. 1 cup cooked green lentils
-1 package of tempeh, crumbled
-a good handful of whatever fresh herbs you’ve got on hand, chopped (I used fresh rosemary and topped it up with a small amount of dried oregano, but next time I’d leave the oregano out)
-a few dollops of balsamic vinegar (2-3 Tbsp, maybe? two shakes from the bottle)
-a small amount of concentrated vegetable broth: I boiled up about 1/4 cup or less water with a vegan stock cube
Cook the onions in olive oil until they’re golden, throwing in some cayenne and freshly ground black pepper, then add the other vegetables and cook until it’s all soft and smells wonderful. Throw in the lentils and tempeh. Then add your herbs and balsamic vinegar and let it all cook down a bit. After the vinegar smell mellows, pour in your broth. Stir it all up and it’s ready to roll.
*I would probably fry up the tempeh a bit first next time rather than just tossing it in straight out of the package. This time I just got lazy.
Toss it all into a casserole. I don’t know what size this will fill, because here in this furnished student accommodation where I’m staying there are only teeny tiny casseroles, so I used three (the two smaller ones are so small that I think the boys eat cereal out of them). Top it with about a 1cm thick layer of mashed potatoes: I made a small batch, 4 potatoes, with a dollop of Earth Balance and a sploosh of soy milk, freshly ground black pepper and just a tiny bit of sea salt. Bake it at 400° for half an hour and those potatoes will be just ever so slightly crispy on the edges.
Now top it off with loads and loads of nutritional yeast gravy. Because a comfort meal wants fat.
Posted by jodi on January 17, 2010 at 7.32pm