Well Dined

15Jan/160

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Well Dined | Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

I actually made this Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie back in March for Pi Day with Melissa from Smells Like Brownies.  We made it with Irish Stout beer so that it would also be appropriate for St Patrick's Day.  But I was in the middle of moving, and so never actually posted about it.  The weather right now is making me crave warm comfort food, and I thought that this dish would be appreciated.  So here I am!

Well Dined | Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

One of the tricks to this recipe is to use grated tofu, which is accomplished by freezing the tofu, then thawing slightly so that it will be the right firmness.  So make sure to freeze your tofu at least a day ahead of when you want to cook.

Well Dined | Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Next, saute an onion, and add toasted walnuts and the shredded tofu.  Add soy sauce and lemon juice, and cook until the liquid is gone.

Well Dined | Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Stir in some frozen peas, then spread the tofu mixture into the bottom of a baking dish.

Well Dined | Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Meanwhile, make a mushroom gravy by sauteing mushrooms and soy sauce, adding stout beer, then thickening with cornstarch.

Well Dined | Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

The gravy will go on top of the tofu mixture.

Well Dined | Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Then, top the casserole with potatoes that have been mashed with butter, cream, garlic, and Irish cheddar.  You can spread them on rustically, or pipe them on like we did for a pretty look.

Well Dined | Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Bake until golden, then top with fresh chives and serve warm.  The soy sauce, walnuts, and mushrooms give the casserole a deep umami flavor and meat-like texture, and the Irish beer and cheese take it to another level.  Enjoy!

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
adapted from Moosewood via Pechluck’s Food Adventures
serves 6–8

14 oz extra firm tofu
1 cup frozen peas
4 Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/4 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp ground coriander
fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
5 tbsp soy sauce, divided (or tamari, if you are gluten-free)
1/2 cup salted butter, cubed
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz Dubliner Irish cheddar
2 tbsp unsalted butter
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, roughly chopped
12 oz stout beer (or 1 1/2 cups starchy potato water), make sure it is a vegetarian one
2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup water
2 tbsp fresh chopped chives

At least one day before cooking the dish, prepare the tofu.  Remove it from the container and pat it completely dry, pressing lightly to release extra moisture.  Seal it in a Ziploc bag and freeze for 24 hours.

When ready to cook, remove the tofu from the freezer and let it thaw on the counter.  Also set out the peas to thaw.

While the tofu thaws, boil the potatoes in lightly salted water for 15–20 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Sauté the chopped onion with thyme, coriander, and black pepper to taste until the onions are translucent.

Shred the tofu using the large holes of a box grater (or an electric cheese grater, which is way faster).  Add the tofu and the chopped, toasted walnuts to the onion mixture.

Stir in the lemon juice and 2 tbsp of the soy sauce.  Reduce heat to low and cook until the mixture no longer looks wet, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat.  Stir in the peas (it's okay if they are still a little frozen) and set aside.

When the potatoes are tender, drain them (reserving some of the starchy potato water, if desired, in place of beer).  While they are still hot, mash with the cubed salted butter and minced garlic.  When the potatoes are smooth, stir in the cream and Irish cheddar.  Add salt and black pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Heat the 2 tbsp unsalted butter in a skillet.  Add in the mushrooms, remaining 3 tbsp soy sauce, and fresh ground black pepper to taste.  When the mushrooms release their liquid and the soy mixture starts to bubble, add in the beer (or reserved starchy potato water).  Cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the cornstarch mixture.  The gravy should thicken immediately.  Taste and adjust seasonings (adding a pinch of sugar if the beer is too bitter) as needed.

Heat the oven to 400 deg F.  Lightly spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray.

Layer the tofu mixture on the bottom of the dish, followed by the mushroom gravy, topped by the mashed potatoes.

Bake the shepherd’s pie 15–20 minutes, or until the top becomes golden.  Let the dish cool for 5–10 minutes, until the gravy stops bubbling.

Garnish with fresh chives and serve warm.

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