For the Parsnip-Cauliflower Mash:
For the Lentil-Veggie Filling:
It has been far too long since I've posted a recipe. I know I'm not always the most consistent with my posts, but over a month? That's bad. Even for me. I sincerely apologize. In the past, lulls in my posting were mainly because I had attempted recipes that didn't work out and had to rethink them before posting. This time around, however, it was because I simply haven't had enough time to sit down and write a post or edit my pictures. I'm pleased to tell you that I have quite a few recipes waiting to be posted, so I won't be disappearing for a month again. These recipes range from breakfast, sweets, and even a treat for your pup. Of course, there are a few delicious entree posts coming your way, including this lentil shepherd's pie. Have I won you back yet?
I made this shepherd's pie for myself on Thanksgiving. It's a protein-rich, vegan entree with aromatic herbs. My entire apartment smelled like rosemary and thyme while I was making it. Autumnal aromatherapy, anyone? Not only did it smell fantastic, it tasted great as well. The contrast between the super savory filling and the slightly sweet parsnip mash was everything you could want in a Thanksgiving meal, all wrapped up in one dish! That is why I love shepherd's pie; while it may be an undertaking to make each layer on it's own, layer them, and then bake, the end result of having all of that in one bowl is worth it.
As mentioned above, one of the reasons I chose to use parsnips in the mash is because they have a sweet flavor. This gives a great contrast to the super savory lentil/veggie layer. Another reason is that I wanted to lighten up this traditionally heavy dish. Obviously, going meat-free knocks out a lot of that, but the next thing to go would be starchy white potatoes. Adding cauliflower to the mash helped lighten it even further. Not only does it give the dish a lighter feel and flavor, but we're also adding more nutritional value with these changes. Compared to white potatoes, parsnips and cauliflower are much more nutrient-packed. This is my favorite kind of way to rethink a traditional dish; enhance the flavor and the nutritional value in a few simple swaps.
As I'm sure you can tell, lentils are one of my favorite proteins. I use them frequently for a multitude of reasons. They have a delicious earthy flavor, they're quick and easy to cook, they're an excellent source of protein, and they also replace meat very easily. I find that almost any recipe that would normally use ground beef, lentils make a good textural substitute. Also, they're freakin' delicious! Seriously, whenever I make something with lentils, I have to stop myself from eating all of them before they actually go into the dish. I just love them. Which is why I thought they would be the perfect protein for this pie.
So, as I said before, making a shepherd's pie can be a bit of work. But any dish with layers and complex flavors tends to be, right? So, it's totally worth the work. You're basically taking your side dish, throwing it right on top of your main dish, and baking it together. The beauty of that is, especially when you're a vegan, is you can take this dish to any holiday get together and know that you pretty much have two things you can eat, they're just in the same bowl. Also, you probably would be making some mashed root vegetable for any fall occasion like Thanksgiving anyway, so why not just combine them with a protein and call it a meal?
Lentil Shepherd's Pie
My name is Ellen Jane and I spend my free time doing vegan experiments in my kitchen so you don't have to. Take a look around.