When I started this blog, the whole point of it was the make delicious food that made veganism accessible to everyone. Every recipe had to be meat eater tested and vegan approved. And, it still is!
But, there are a lot of foods that are sticking points with would-be vegetarians and the thought of never eating that food again brings on, what I call, “The Fear”.
I constantly hear the following sentence: “But, don’t you miss…?”
So, in an effort to combat that, we have decided that every Wednesday will be dedicated to a special challenge recipe presented to me to veganize.
This isn’t just some sad knock off of an original. It can’t be a reasonable facsimile… you deserve better than that.
These are recipes that, although slightly different, are just as filling, satisfying and tasty as their meat-based counterparts. No compromises.
To begin with, Ben is giving me a weekly favourite dish from his childhood to sink my vegetable-shaman teeth in to.
The first on the list?
Shepherd’s Pie (or Cottage Pie)
- Must have a tomato-based sauce.
- It must have small bits of carrots and mushrooms in it.
- It must not be dry.
- It should have a 1:1 ratio of potato topping to filling.
- The potato should be cheesy and buttery and crispy.
- The potato should have no lumps.
- The end product should have sauce bubbling up around the crispy potatoes.
- It should be served with green peas.
The tempeh was a much better choice than using lentils or something more starchy. The tempeh also has more texture than fake ground beef, and a far superior nutritional profile. The sauce was slightly sweet, very umami and very similar to the Shepherd’s pies that I remember my mom making when I was little.
I thought this dish turned out incredibly well, and judging by the fact that Ben ate almost the entire thing, I would think that he would agree. The only change I would make next time is the make it a bit more saucy. Although the initial dish isn’t dry, when it sat in the fridge or was reheated, it was a bit drier.
All in all, I would say it was an unprecedented success!
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced small
- 2 medium carrots, diced small
- 2 stalks celery, diced small
- 250 g button mushrooms, diced small
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- Salt and pepper
- ½ tsp onion powder (onion granules)
- 1 TBSP tomato paste (puree)
- 1 TBSP ketchup (tomato sauce)
- 8 oz (225 g) tempeh, crumbled or chopped finely
- 2 TBSP Vegan worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup dark ale or vegetable broth
- 1 cup frozen garden peas
- 4 pounds baking potatoes, peeled, quartered
- 4 TBSP vegan butter, refined coconut oil or olive oil
- ½ cup of vegetable stock
- 1 cup grated meltable vegan cheese (I used Vegusto No Moo melty and No Moo piquant)
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F).
- Place oil in a large saucepan on medium heat.
- Saute onions, carrots, mushrooms celery and garlic until tender for about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Season with onion powder, salt and pepper.
- Once the vegetables have softened and start to brown a little add the tomato paste and ketchup and mix evenly.
- Add the tempeh and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the vegan worcestershire sauce and ale (or veg broth).
- Cook and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add more fluid if mixture seems dry.
- While filling is simmering, cook potatoes in a large pot of water until fork tender (15-20 mins).
- Drain potatoes, mash potatoes until smooth.
- Add in vegan butter (or whichever alternative you are using) and ½ cup of vegetable stock.
- Mash again until completely smooth.
- Add cheese in to potatoes.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix frozen peas in to tempeh mixture.
- Transfer mixture to an oven-proof baking dish and spread evenly.
- Place potato on top filling and spread out evenly, finishing with peaks to make it nice and crispy. Sprinkle with more vegan cheese, if desired.
- Place the dish into the preheated oven and cook until browned about 20 minutes.
- Allow to cool 5 minutes and then serve!
Ben’s Verdict (aka A MeatEater Responds):
Get in my son! YES! Back of the NET! She delivers a corker!
This was every bit as delicious and as filling as the countless meaty efforts I have rustled up over the years. It hit almost every requirement bang on the nose, from the crispy yet fluffy potato topping, to the rich bubbling filling below the line. The Tempeh meat substitute has a great texture, and does not have any of the slightly gristly bits that you can get with a ground beef version.
If it was slightly drier than the version in my mind it was my fault because I sat too long in the bath and left it in the oven too long. Oh, and being a Brit, I like my frozen peas on the side. But these are absolutely minor personal quibbles that should not take away from the majesty of this dish.