Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie (Vegan)

Shepherd’s Pie is a British dish originating from the sheep country in Scotland and northern England.  It was usually made as a means of using leftover roasted meat (such as beef, lamb or mutton). This meat pie is typically cooked in a gravy with onions and other vegetables, such as peas, celery or carrots.  The pie dish is then lined with mashed potato, and topped with a mashed potato crust and grated cheese (optional). This plant-based, dairy-free, vegan version — made of lentils and mushrooms — is the absolute comfort food that, although simple, is worth serving for a special occasion meal.

Servings:  8

INGREDIENTS:

10 medium-sized (or 8 large) potatoes – Yukon Gold potatoes work best
2 tablespoons vegan butter
1/2 cup rice milk
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 ounces crimini (or baby Portobello) mushrooms, sliced
Two 15-ounce cans lentils, lightly drained
2 tablespoons dry red wine, optional
1 to 2 tablespoon Bragg liquid aminos (or reduced-sodium soy sauce)
2 to 3 teaspoons all-purpose seasoning blend
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
8 to 10 ounces baby spinach or arugula leaves
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup fresh bread crumbs

Directions:  

Clean, peel and dice the potatoes, and place them in a large saucepan with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small mixing bowl.

Stir the vegan butter into the potatoes until melted, then add the rice milk and mash until fluffy. Season with salt, cover, and set aside until needed.

Preheat the oven to 400º F.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium-sized skillet.  Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.

Add the lentils and their liquid and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the liquid aminos (or soy sauce), wine (optional), seasoning blend, thyme, and pepper. Cook gently for 5 minutes. Combine the cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve in a small container. Stir into the lentil mixture.

Add the spinach, a small handful at a time, cooking just until the leaves are wilted.  Remove from the heat; taste to adjust seasonings to your taste.

Lightly oil a 2-quart (preferably round) casserole dish.  Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the bottom. Pour in the lentil mixture, then spread the potatoes evenly over the top.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to turn golden and slightly crusty. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into pie slices to serve.

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