Smurf’s Shepherd’s Pie

Today was cold and rainy, just perfect for the warmth and comfort of an old fashioned shepherd’s pie. The only potatoes I had on hand happened to be blue potatoes we picked up from our co-op last week, so my husband and I dubbed this casserole, “Smurfy Shepherd’s Pie” even though the insides of the tubers are more purple than blue. Go with it! Authentic shepherd’s pie usually uses some kind of sherry (I think? Brits, help me out here) but I didn’t have any kind of cooking wine on hand, so I winged it with some broth and red wine vinegar in the gravy. TVP provided a perfect, meaty base for the pie. I bet cooked brown lentils would work well, too. It doesn’t look like much, because I’m a horrible food photographer, but it turned out perfectly.  I have a feeling this shepherd’s pie (smurfy or otherwise) will make regular appearances on our dinner table in the chilly winter months to come.

Smurf’s Shepherd’s Pie (serves 4) 

Topping:

2 lbs blue potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks

3 tablespoons earth balance

1/4 cup vegetable broth

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

Stew:

1 1/2 cups dehydrated TVP chunks

1 cup boiling water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon

1 small onion, diced

1/2 cup carrots, coined

3/4 cup cooked peas (I used thawed, from frozen)

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups vegetable stock

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon melted earth balance, or canola oil

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

our boiling water over TVP and let soak for approximately 10 minutes, or until most of the water is absorbed. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and simmer until tender. Drain. As the potatoes are cooking, prepare the stew.

Whisk together the vegetable broth, red wine vinegar, nutritional yeast, flour and melted EB/oil. Heat olive oil in a large pan (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the carrots, peas, garlic and TVP. Cook until the TVP is lightly browned and the carrots are softened. Add the vegetable broth mixture, stir, and let simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the stew appears thick and creamy. Add splashes of water or broth as necessary to keep from sticking. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired. Turn on your broiler.

Now finish preparing the topping. Mash together the potatoes, 2 tablespoons of the earth balance, broth, salt and black pepper. I use the whipping attachment of my stand mixer for this step. Transfer the stew to an oven safe casserole dish or pie plate. Spoon the potato mixture over top in a single, even layer. If you used cast iron to prepare the stew, no transferring is required! Top the pie with the additional tablespoon of earth balance and the crushed red pepper. You could also add some shredded vegan cheese on top, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Broil for 5 minutes or until the top is nicely browned. Serve hot.

Broccoli: A Love Story

Broccoli and I go way back. Its held my heart in its delicious green hands for years.  I may have the occasional fling with a bunch of brussell sprouts or fall prey to the allure of an eggplant now and then, but broccoli is my vegetable soul mate. Its my dependable dinner-time staple, delicious   as a vehicle for a fancy sauce, or all on its own.

© Euclidus | Stock Free Images

My go-to basic roasted broccoli recipe is inspired by a side dish at  my favorite NYC cafe, ‘sNice. In college, I spent many winter nights at a corner table in their west village location sipping a glass of earl grey tea and munching on this broccoli while I studied. I like it best served hot, but it’s also good cold on top of salads or in wraps. This recipe is nothing special, but that’s what makes it so wonderful. It’s subtle enough to act as a side dish to a heartier entree, but bold enough to stand up as a main dish when mixed with lentils or chickpeas and served with your favorite grain.

Garlicky Roasted Broccoli 

Ingredients:

4 cups broccoli florets

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground coarse black pepper

1/2 – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (adjust according to spice preference)

2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced

Method: 

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a mixing  bowl, toss the broccoli with the olive oil to coat. Add spices and garlic and toss again until well-distributed. Spread the broccoli on a heavy duty baking sheet or large cast iron pan in a single layer. Roast in oven for 15 – 20 minutes, until the broccoli is just starting to brown (be careful not to over cook). Turn on the broiler and broil for 2 minutes. Serve hot or chilled.

While you’re waiting for your broccoli to roast, check out my friend Hayley’s video, all about the magical world of broccoli.