Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Roasted Garlic and Sweet Potatoes

I know full well about the fuss some can make over what the different versions of this dish are named. ‘Shepherd’s pie’ must be made with lamb. ‘Cottage pie’ is made with beef or some other land animal. ‘Shepherdless pie’ or ‘garden pie’ is the vegetarian/vegan version. Such excite over such a plain dish. Much wow.

Here is a vegan version of the mashed tuber-topped western family favourite. I’ve used sweet potato instead of russets and roasted garlic because everything needs more vitamin A and garlic. The bottom layer is a mix of chick peas (for protein), mixed vegetables (for all them micronutrients), and mushrooms (for fun).  What ties both layers together in this recipe is a creamy, I-can’t-believe-it’s-vegan gravy with fresh rosemary and earthy spices.

This recipe yields a ‘smaller’ pie meant for a round pie dish, rather than a casserole dish. You can scale everything up to 150% or 200% to feed more people, depending on the size of your vessel. You could also switch things up by, for example, using a different combination of veggies/legumes for the base layer and adding some vegan ‘cheese’ shreds to the top before baking. If you want to make this gluten-free, try almond meal for the breadcrumbs and substitute the flour with some other starch such as corn, potato, rice, or tapioca.

 

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Roasted Garlic and Sweet Potatoes

Adapted from Tim Shieff for Jamie Oliver

Serves: 4, quite generously
Time: 1 1/2 hours

For the garlic sweet potato layer:

  • 1 big bulb of garlic
  • a few drops + 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil + extra
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and in chunks
  • small pinch of salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper

For the mixed veggie base:

  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5-6 button or crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 3-4 stalks of kale, midribs removed and leafy parts chopped
  • 270 ml (1/2 regular can) chickpeas, rinsed and drained

For the lush herb cream gravy:

  • 2 Tbsp vegan margarine
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, woody stems removed and needles chopped
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground coriander
  • small pinch of ground cayenne pepper
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups plain organic soy milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper

For the final touches:

  • 1/4 cup your choice of breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp dried parsley

 

Whistler Bear Paw and one very large sweet potato
If your sweet potatoes are thiiiiis big, you’ll only need one of them.

For the garlic sweet potato layer:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 °C / 400 °F.
  1. Prep the bulb of garlic for roasting by chopping off the top, drizzling the exposed garlic cloves with a few drops of extra virgin olive oil, and wrapping in aluminum foil. Check out Simply Recipes for more information.

Preparing garlic for roasting
I thought one would get lonely so I prepped two.  The other will be used for hummus.

  1. In a bowl, toss the sweet potato pieces with 1 tsp oil, salt, and pepper.
  1. On a baking sheet, spread the sweet potato chunks out as a single layer. Place the garlic bulb on the same sheet.
  1. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the sweet potatoes are cooked. (Deal with the other ingredients during this time.)
  1. Turn the oven on to Broil.
  1. Place the sweet potatoes in a bowl (perhaps even the same bowl from Step 3).
  1. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves out of the skins and add the cloves to the potato bowl. Discard the garlic’s fibrous skins.

Roasted garlic and sweet potato
Good enough to eat as shown.

  1. Mash the potatoes and garlic good. If it’s too dry for your liking, add a drizzle more of olive oil. Set aside until pie assembly.

Mashed sweet potato and roasted garlic
A rustic texture via wire hand masher is perfect for this recipe.

 

For the mixed veggie base:

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, stir-fry the onion, garlic, mushrooms, celery, and carrot in 2 Tbsp oil for 5-7 minutes. The vegetables will have lost a good deal of moisture and be soft.
  1. Add the kale and chickpeas. Keeping cooking, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 more minutes. The kale will also lose a lot of moisture and shrink.

Sauteed vegetables, chick peas, kale
This has a sort of autumn-y look to it already.

  1. Keep the vegetables warm over low heat until assembly.

 

For the lush herb cream gravy:

  1. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the margarine.
  1. Fry the herbs, cumin, coriander, and cayenne for 2 minutes.
  1. Whisk in the flour to form a roux. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.
  1. Whisk in the soy milk. Keep stirring for up to 4-5 minutes to form a thick sauce.

Creamy vegan rosemary gravy
Such a delicious, aromatic gravy.  Don’t forget to salt this or flavour will be lost.

  1. Turn off the heat and stir in the salt and pepper. Remove the bay leaf.
  1. Fold the gravy into the skillet of cooked, mixed vegetables.

 

For pie assembly and baking:

  1. Transfer the veggies & gravy to a pie plate.

Vegetables, chick peas, kale, and vegan gravy
As good enough to eat as shown.

  1. Spread the mashed sweet potatoes on top of the veggies.
  1. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and parsley on top of the sweet potato layer.

Assembled vegan shepherd's pie, ready to bake
I used panko, the party animal of bread crumbs.

  1. Place the pie in the oven, under the Broiler, for 5 minutes or until the pie’s top is golden brown.  Keep an eye on your pie so you don’t burn it like I did.  Then turn off the oven and remove the pie.
  1. Serve slabs of the vegan shepherd’s pie with steamed green vegetables or a salad.
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