I mean, what’s not to love about gravy, vegies and mashed potatoes all baked together?
Shepherd’s pie is a warming, wholesome dish that signifies home to me, as it reminds me so dearly of fond memories growing up and sharing mealtimes at the table with my family. It was a regular meal served at the dinner table for me and my siblings. Both my parents and my English grandmother used to make this dish for us when we were young, and I suppose it was a nice little ode to their English background.
The one we ate was not exactly the same as this version – a plant-based take on the classic, using lentils instead of ground beef mince as a source of protein. My version is not only simple, but it’s also very cost-effective. Of course, it is incredibly delicious too! I mean, what’s not to love about gravy, vegies and mashed potatoes all baked together? It’s a winter staple.
After years of travelling abroad, my husband Alex and I returned to Australia and moved into our new home on the Gold Coast shortly before the pandemic hit. I was a few months’ pregnant and, like many people, spent a lot more time at home, in and out of lockdowns. During this time, I found joy in simple daily routines and fell in love all over again with the pleasures of home cooking. We welcomed our son Bowie into the world in July 2020 and our lives became a lot more chaotic, with much less sleep and a lot less time to cook meals. The recipes in my cookbook were born out of my desire to cook tasty meals quickly, and they are very much a reflection of my current life stage as a busy working mum.
Now, I love that I can cook this dish at home using plant-based ingredients for my husband and children, to create new memories for them. Hopefully it will be a dish that they love to come home to when they’re older, too.
ELLIE BULLEN’S SIMPLE (MOSTLY) VEGAN KITCHEN IS OUT NOW.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 x 400g cans lentils, rinsed and drained
465g (3 cups) frozen mixed veg (peas, corn and carrots)
400g can chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons onion gravy powder
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 tablespoons vegan red wine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve
540g potatoes, peeled and cut into 2.5cm chunks
2 tablespoons vegan butter
3 tablespoons soy milk
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons dried parsley, plus extra for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced.
Start with the potato topping. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add the potato, cover and boil for 10-15 minutes, until soft. Drain and return the potato to the pan, then add the butter, soy milk, salt and dried parsley. Mash until smooth and fluffy. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the lentils, frozen mixed veg, tomatoes, gravy powder and thyme. Stir and bring to a simmer, then cook for five minutes. Stir through the red wine and continue to simmer for three minutes, then season with salt and pepper to taste. (For babies or toddlers, replace the wine with water.)
Transfer the lentil and vegetable mixture to a large baking dish and evenly spread the mashed potato over the top. Sprinkle with a little extra dried parsley, then transfer to the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the potato is golden and crisp. Scatter some chopped parsley over the shepherd’s pie and serve hot.
First published in Ed#670