When winter hits, we often turn to comfort foods. This hearty meal is fantastic to warm up any chilly night. We made vegetarian shepherd’s pie, and we think it’s great for Sunday night meal prep as well.
A new twist on a classic dish
Usually shepherd’s pie, or cottage pie, is commonly made with minced red meat and a layer of potatoes. We opted to swap out the meat for lentils, which are full of protein, fiber, and iron. Lentils, a legume, are a staple of plant-based cooking for these reasons and the fact that they are very filling and keep for a long time in the pantry. You can even skip a few steps and used canned lentils.
Lentils are also full of polyphenols. Polyphenols are micronutrients that act as antioxidants and can have an amazing effect on our health in numerous ways. They can help keep our heart in good shape, can help fight inflammation, and are thought to help protect our cells from damage.
Cauliflower might be one of the most versatile vegetables around. We have used it as gluten-free pizza crust, gluten-free bread, in smoothies, and more. It makes an incredible substitute for mashed potatoes as well.
Part of the appeal of cauliflower is that it’s very easy to find in most groceries and farmers’ markets and is always relatively inexpensive. This makes it the perfect addition to your weekly shop for meal planning and prep. Cauliflower is often on the EWG’s “Clean 15” list of low-pesticide fruits and vegetables, which means you don’t even really need to buy organic. This recipe includes a few things that make it a great maintenance recipe, but we’ve included some swaps below to make it Clean 21-friendly!
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Mash
2 yellow onions, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, diced
1 cup green peas
1 bunch kale, stems removed and finely chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons tomato paste (sub. canned pumpkin, if cleansing)
1 1/2 cups green lentils
4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire (omit if cleansing)
Salt & pepper
1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
Fresh parsley, finely chopped
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and sauté until tender and browned for about 10 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper.
Mix in the tomato paste, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and paprika, and cook until the tomato paste darkens in color, about 3 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and the lentils and stir to combine. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the lentils are tender about 25-30 minutes.
Lower heat and mix in the green peas, kale, tamari, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Sauté until the kale has wilted. Taste the mixture and season with salt and pepper as needed.
While the lentils simmer, make the cauliflower topping: Bring a large pot of water with a steamer basket insert to boil. Once boiling, add the cauliflower and steam until soft, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the cauliflower to a food processor or high-powered blender. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Process until smooth and creamy.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the lentil filling to a large 3-quart baking dish and smooth it into an even layer. Spoon the cauliflower topping over the top and carefully spread it over the filling to cover the whole surface.
Bake until the filling starts bubbling up and the topping is slightly golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil on the vegetarian shepherd’s pie and garnish with the fresh chopped parsley and a few cracks of salt and pepper.
Recipe and photography by Julia Gibson
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