Brrrrrr! It’s getting cold outside, and we’re craving comfort food! Shepherd’s Pie is an excellent meal for these chilly nights. It’s packed full of lentils and potatoes, combined with mushrooms and spinach, and served on top of gluten-free breadcrumbs. We made this hearty offering as a main dish for our recent Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s also perfect for the December holidays. You’ll feel pleasantly full in no time, ready to brave the cold winds.
8 russet potatoes
2 tablespoons vegan butter or margarine, such as Earth Balance
1/2 cup rice milk
Sea salt to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cups cremini mushrooms, chopped
3 1/2 cups cooked lentils with a bit of leftover liquid
2 tablespoons dry red wine (optional)
1-2 tablespoons tamari (Don’t use soy sauce, as it contains wheat)
2 tablespoons seasoning blend (We used Bragg, with great results)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
fresh ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup spinach or arugula leaves
1 cup fresh gluten-free breadcrumbs
Dried oregano for topping
Boil the potatoes until soft and remove the skins. Mash the potatoes in a large bowl with the rice milk and vegan butter or margarine. Cover your mixture and set aside.
Sauté the onions in olive oil in a medium-sized frying pan. Cast iron is best. When the onions are translucent, add the garlic and mushrooms and continue sautéing until they are golden and the mushrooms are cooked through, but not mushy.
Add the lentils and their liquid and simmer. Stir in the optional wine, tamari, seasoning blend, thyme, and pepper. Cook for about five minutes on medium heat, then add cornstarch. Toss in spinach and cook until the leaves are just beginning to wilt. Continue stirring until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Scatter the breadcrumbs across the bottom of a two-quart baking dish. Ladle the lentil mixture inside, smoothing it to make sure the surface is even and free from lumps. Spread the potato mixture across the top and sprinkle with a bit of additional thyme and/or oregano.
Bake in a pre-heated, 400-degree oven for 30-35 minutes. The edges of the potato mixture should be browned and slightly crispy. Cut into wedges and serve! This dish is great with a salad or a variety of other holiday or non-holiday sides. Serves about 8 hungry guests. You can refrigerate any leftovers in a secure container for up to three days. Happy winter, and be sure to stay warm out there!