Recipe Wednesday: Vegan Lentil Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie
As a now full vegan (I just gave up eggs for good!) I always get the “What do you eat?!” question, especially around the holidays. I have many friends and family that always wonder what I’m going to eat at Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is normally centered around turkey and ham, cream and milk, etc. I have done the tofurky meal for several Thanksgivings but now that I’m moving into a more “everything homemade/from scratch” realm I knew this holiday, like last years, was going to be my favorite Lentil Shepard’s Pie.
I got a lot of practice in Peru this summer working with potatoes, lentils, and all vegetables from scratch. When you don’t have refrigeration you have to get creative with your food, and really learn how to use flavors to enhance them! This holiday I had every vegetable available to use in this dish but I tried to keep it simple, but flavorful, so everyone could enjoy it, including my Dad who’s diet is now almost as strict as mine!
Vegan Lentil Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie
- 1-2 Tblsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 8 cloves of garlic, minced
- half inch block of fresh ginger, grated or minced
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 each red and yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1C mushrooms, sliced thin
- 1.25C washed lentils
- 1 low sodium vegetable bouillon cube
- 3.5 C hot water
- 1.5 Tbsp Italian herbs, dried
- Dash each of turmeric, paprika, cumin, and cinnamon
- 2 chopped sweet potatoes
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- Few dashes each of dried Italian herbs, paprika and turmeric
- ~1/2 – 1 C low sodium vegetable broth
Directions: (This is a two step process, one for the base of the pie, other for the top)
1. To start the bottom portion, chop up your garlic, ginger and onions, combine in a large pot with all the spices and olive oil on medium, and cook until the onions are translucent and smelling up the kitchen (haha).
2. While the onion, ginger and garlic are cooking, or you can do this beforehand, chop up the carrots, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Add into the pot when the onions are done.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, in a measuring cup place the bouillon cube and 2 C of hot water to let the cube dissolve. Rinse the lentils in cold water and make sure to check that there are no rocks in the mix. Sometimes they find their way into the lentils (this goes for other things like quinoa too!). Set aside.
4. When the carrots are warmed through and the mushrooms have started to shrink, add in the bouillon cube water, plus the extra 1.5 cups of water, and lentils. Stir all together and place the lid on the pot at a simmer and let cook for approximately 40-45 minutes, or until water is absorbed and lentils are soft.
5. In another large pot, bring about 1 liter of water to a rolling boil. Add in the chopped sweet potato pieces and cook them until they can easily be smashed. Drain the water and set the cooked sweet potato to the side.
6. In a large pot (you can use the one the potatoes came out of; I did!) add in the olive oil, 1/2 diced onion, garlic, and spices and cook until the onion is cooked thoroughly. Have some vegetable broth made and set to the side.
7. Add the potatoes into the onion mix and smash to your heart’s content. Depending on if you want a more chunky or smooth topping, stop when you want and add as much vegetable broth as you’d like.
8. Preheat the oven to 350*F and lightly grease a 10×10 (or whatever size you have that’s bigger than a 9×9 but smaller than a 9×13) pan. Place the lentil base into the pan and top with the mashed sweet potatoes. Place in the center of the rack in the middle of the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes, or until the top is starting to look crispy or golden brown.
9. Let the dish cool a little bit and dig in!
I enjoyed this meal for days and as it sits the flavors get stronger and stronger! Everyone enjoyed it, meat and non-meat eaters alike, so I think everyone you have try this would like it!
Now, a little disclaimer. You may have noticed that there is no salt in this recipe.
No salt?! How can this taste good at all!?
Well, it can. I promise. In the case of this recipe, there is no added salt, because it is already included in the LOW SODIUM vegetable broth. I have learned over the years how sensitive my body is to salt, as is my Mom’s and Dad’s, so I have learned to use the flavor of fresh and dried herbs to my advantage. If you use fresh and in my opinion, organic and local ingredients, the need for salt is diminished significantly. But, I have been living on a low salt diet for years now so my body has adjusted to not having salt added into most of my food. Lets put it this way, I hate it when I have to eat soup from a can because there is so much sodium in it and my body lets me know it.
I believe there is already too much salt in our diets and by using fresh, organic and local ingredients we can step away from having to add it to all of our food to enhance the flavor. I think the same goes for sugar, but that discussion is for another day.