Last night, it was a bit blustery here in Atlanta. It was also our last opportunity to celebrate Christmas for several months – January 7 this year was Eastern Orthodox Christmas. Ethiopian Coptic Christians also celebrate then, and all the women at the Dekalb Farmer’s Market were in their festive Christmas dresses yesterday (mostly white with gold trim). In honor of this last Christmas feasting for awhile, I made a vegan Shepherd’s Pie filled with mushrooms, tempeh, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), carrots, peas, and a bit of fresh thyme. (The Coptic Christians would consider this “fasting” because it’s vegan. It’s feasting to us!)
I served this with a simple salad (see below) and Triple Chocolate Brownies served with coconut milk ice cream (Purely Decadent Brand). A feast indeed.
Good Shepherd’s Pie
Serves 8 (one 9X13 or 1/2 hotel pan)
This is gluten-free is you use wheat-free tamari instead of standard soy sauce
about 6 or 7 medium russet potatoes
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
1/2 cup Earth Balance non-hydrogenated spread
salt and pepper to taste
2 packages (1 pound) tempeh, cubed (I like Light Life’s Garden Veggie variety)
1/2 cup olive oil (divided)
1 yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced (your favorite variety)
1 celery stalk, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or 2 15 oz cans)
1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (tamari)
1/4 cup dry white (or red) wine, optional
1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in
2 cups cold water
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare a 9 X 13 inch pan or something similar in size (or two 8 X 8 square pans). You can spray up near the top of the pan to make the potato crust easier to clean up, but no big deal either way.
Peel the potatoes and quarter them. Put the potatoes into a saucepan and cover with water. Add a teaspoon of salt to the water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a low boil/high simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until tender enough to pierce easily with a fork.
While the potatoes are cooking, chop the tempeh into small cubes (1/2 inch across or so). Fry up in some olive oil until browned all over. Pour the tempeh into the pan(s) and set aside. In the same pan (no need to wash it yet), add some more olive oil and saute the onion and garlic. When it starts to color a bit, add the mushrooms, carrots, and celery.
Cook until the mushrooms give up their liquid, and it begins to evaporate. The onions and garlic should be beautifully browned by now.
Add the soy sauce. Mix together the cornstarch and cold water and add the mixture. Cook until the gravy starts to thicken.
Add the garbanzo beans. Use the potato masher to smash them up a bit into the gravy. Add the peas, fresh thyme, and parsley (if using) and take the pan off the stove.
Pour this mixture into the pan with the tempeh. Stir the tempeh up into the mix.
By now, the potatoes have cooked. Drain them, and mash them with a potato masher, stirring in the soy milk and Earth Balance, salt, and pepper. They should be like delicious mashed potatoes – a bit rich and buttery. Add more soy milk if necessary to make them spreadable.
Spread the potatoes across the top of the casserole, adding a few swirls with the spatula. Pop the dish into the oven (you might want to put a cookie sheet beneath it to catch drips), and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the potatoes are beginning to turn golden on top of the swirled bits.
Serve hot, with a salad or something green.
Asian Pear Salad
mixed salad greens to cover four salad plates
one Asian pear (apple-pear or nashi), diced
1 cup of fresh blueberries or the seeds of a pomegranate
1 small or 1/2 long cucumber, diced
Mustard Vinaigrette Dressing:
1 tablespoon mustard (dijon, whole grain, etc.)
2 tablespoons wine vinegar (I used raspberry flavored)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
whisk together and drizzle over salads. Add salt and pepper as desired.