Have you heard about “Veganuary”? It’s an annual challenge organization that promotes and educates people about veganism by encouraging them to follow a vegan lifestyle for the month of January. Launched as a non-profit organization in the UK in 2014 it has now grown into an international challenge with close to half a million people participating in 2021.
For whatever reasons you may want to try the Veganuary challenge for yourself, I know that there is often a ‘what will I eat?’ panic that sets in when looking to add vegan meals to your diet so here is a simple but super hearty and satisfying recipe for a meatless Shepherd’s pie, one of the many veganized versions of classic dishes from the book I co-authored with Jennifer Huether, MS called “Perfect Pairings For Plant-Based Cuisine”.
Easily one of my ultimate comfort food meals, this pie is already full of veggies but adding a crisp salad or some sauteed greens is a nice way to round out the plate. It makes for a lovely, casual dinner party main course with a lot of satisfied smiles and ‘mmm’s’. For those who aren’t fans of faux meat products I’ve given the option of substituting lentils or mushrooms. Or try the Lion’s Mane Crumble by Big Mountain Foods, which is soy and gluten-free for those of you who prefer not to use faux meat products.
At the bottom of the recipe you’ll find the wine pairings created by Jennifer Huether, for a perfectly paired meal. Enjoy!
Beyond Shepherd’s pie
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 medium carrot, thickly sliced
- 2 stalks celery, thickly sliced
- 4-6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup dry red wine (optional but recommended)
- 1 ½ cups vegan ground beef replacement (you can replace this with more lentils and/or some sautéed mushrooms)
- 1 cup canned or cooked lentils
- ¼ cup vegetable broth
- 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
- 2-3 tbsp low sugar ketchup blended with equal parts vegetable broth
- ½ cup steamed or canned corn kernels
- ½ tsp salt (only if your broth is salt-free)
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large potatoes, diced (peeled or not, your preference)
- ½ large cauliflower, roughly chopped
- 1 ½-2 tbsp vegan butter or margarine (add more for a creamier topping)
- ¼ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk of choice
Make the Filling
- Heat oil in a medium pot at medium heat. Add onions, carrots and celery and cook for 7-10 minutes until soft and translucent.
- Add garlic and wine, cooking until veggies are soft and wine is absorbed, about 5 minutes. If using mushrooms, add at this point.
- Add ground round and/lentils, vegetable broth, Herbes de Provence and ketchup/broth blend, cooking for another 3-5 minutes. Taste and add more ketchup, or salt if needed to balance the flavours.
- Add corn, stir until well-combined and pour mixture into an 8” square casserole.
Make the Topping
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Add salt to about 1 inch of water in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cauliflower, and steam for 8-10 minutes until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Drain. Add margarine and non-dairy milk and mash together. Season with more salt if needed. Spoon over the mixture in the casserole and run a fork along the top, simply for presentation’s sake.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Jennifer’s Wine Pairings
I grew up on my grandmas Shepherd’s Pie, so successfully conquering this into a delicious vegan version makes me extremely happy. To me, this is a dish that you can serve to family and guests alike, come a Tuesday or Saturday night. And this dish calls for red wine, served in a large glass.
My value recommendation would be a lighter style shiraz from Adelaide Hills in Southern Australia. These rich, heart-warming reds offer loads of red fruit flavours with distinct spicy notes that play off the warmth of this pie, leaving you wanting more of everything. The Adelaide Hills region is a cooler pocket in a warm area, so the wines keep their freshness and don’t become too big to match with this dish.
My splurge wine would be a Southern Rhone blend, a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which hails from a historic and very romantic place in Southern France. This riper style wine is based on the grenache and syrah grapes but ultimately is a blend of several grapes. They offer notes of fresh rosemary and lavender which grow wild in the region, along with some earthiness and red fruity tones. They are complex and will age well in your cellar.
Note: different producers will use different amounts of the permissible grape varieties, creating many house styles. Find your favourite.