Vegetables are my favorite. My sister and I got in trouble as children for raiding my mom’s garden and eating too many of the vegetables before she could harvest them. I could demolish her carrot crop single handed, and my sister had the peas on lock down. I don’t know if it’s because my mom raised me with a healthy appreciation for veggies or if I’m just an odd duck that inherently loves them. But I do, I really do love them.
I also love autumn. I love the changing leaves and cooler weather, the seasonal clothing (boots, scarves, and sweaters, oh my!!!!), and the transition to warmer, more comforting foods. I have put away my salad recipes and brought out the soups, pot pies, and casseroles. And the recent changes in my diet have prompted some new discoveries, which is never a bad thing. This Detox Soup recipe is warming and refreshing; I’m obsessed. This Curried Coconut Corn Soup is simple, but addictive. And this Lentil Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie recipe was almost more than my heart could handle. So good.
Another new discovery came on a recent trip to Moscow, Idaho. My mom works up there and I went for a quick weekend trip. Somewhere between scarf making and Saturday market shenanigans, she took me to a newer brewery in town – Hunga Dunga Brewing Company. I’m not joking or exaggerating when I say it was the greatest beer experience of my life. As I usually do at new breweries, I ordered a flight: a 3-5 oz sample of a selection of the brewery’s beers. Most breweries offer flights. In this case, the flight including a sample of all 9 of their current beers. I’m usually a stout or lager drinker, but am finally making my way into IPAs and other Pale Ales. The thing that was so amazing about this brewery is 1, their variety of styles, and 2, the fact that I LOVED all of them. As in, I would be happy as a clam with a pint of any one of those beers on any occasion. I couldn’t believe it. Their Red Rye Ale was lovely, their Oatmeal Pale Ale was interesting but delicious, and their Hopnipotent IPA is probably my new favorite IPA. But the best one of all? Their Cold Brew Iced Coffee Stout. I died. I died and I went to beer heaven. And then I bought a growler and enjoyed this nectar of the gods a few more times when I got home.
If I could only drink one beer for the rest of my life, it would be that one. That guy front right. Oh man….
I digress. Can you tell I love beer too? I love so many things. Anyway, we were talking about food and vegetables….
Shepherd’s Pie is a well used recipe in my kitchen, and one thing I love most about it is how adjustable it is. You just need a crust, mashed potatoes, and the filling. The filling can contain whatever you want or whatever you have. It’s flexible. Now, I specifically went grocery shopping and counted each of the 10 of vegetables for this dish, but by all means, use what you have. The more ingredients you use though, the smaller each quantity should be. And if you are short on veggies, throw some cooked lentils in there for extra substance.
I cook by color. Is that weird? Does anyone else do that? I picked the veggies for this dish to ensure a nice rainbow effect. As I was browsing for veggies, I came across okra. Now, I used to see and eat this little veggie all the time when I lived in New Mexico. (Fried okra is amazing!) But I don’t see it much here in the Pacific Northwest, so I got all excited and bought some. There’s one shade of green. I added zucchini for another green shade. Carrots are orange. Corn is yellow. I should have bought a red bell pepper but the orange and yellow ones are my favorite. Eggplant is purple. Portabella mushrooms are brown. What is that saying? The more colorful your diet is, the healthier it is? Something like that. Usually written across a picture of jelly beans. Which are also amazing.
I should probably mention that I don’t measure herbs and spices… I’ve been cooking too long, and I usually feel that recipes are under seasoned. I’m a visual person and know myself well enough to eye ball my free-hand seasonings. If you are unsure, I would suggest starting with a teaspoon of each and adding from there. The golden rule of cooking is to taste everything at every step. That way you can adjust before it’s too late.
One thing Pat is adamant about is that Shepherd’s Pie has to have gravy. I would agree, as this helps everything adhere. So I threw together a quick mixture of vegetable broth and corn starch in a saucepan and it was perfect. I will confess that I used store bought Pillsbury pie crust. I had a a few in my freezer and I haven’t yet perfected homemade pie crust. One of these days I will hone that skill, but until then, the dough boy has me covered.
10 Veggie Shepherd’s Pie
1 Pillsbury pie crust (or homemade)
Mashed potatoes – if you don’t know how to make these, let me know in the comments and I will post a recipe. It’s one of the first things I perfected as a young Padawan in the kitchen.
10 Veggie filling
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic
2 carrots, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 leek, thinly sliced
4-5 green beans, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
3-4 okra pods, diced
1/2 medium eggplant, cubed
1 portabella mushroom, diced
1 cup corn (I used frozen, you can use fresh or canned as well)
Seasonings to taste (can be substituted with other herbs and spices if you prefer) – ground coriander, smoked paprika, thyme, Italian seasoning blend, turmeric, white pepper, ground mustard, and salt.
1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 Tbsp corn starch
- Preheat oven to 350° and prep pie crust as instructed.
- In a large pot, add onion, garlic, and olive oil and saute over medium heat until onions start to become translucent.
- Add each of the other ingredients one at a time in the order listed and let cook for 1-2 minutes each. They are listed in the order of longest to shortest cook time, for even cooking.
- Once all vegetables are added, add seasonings to taste. Then turn heat to low and make the gravy.
- In a small sauce pan, combine broth and corn starch, whisking together while cold. Turn on medium heat and continue whisking until it is thick. This will take several minutes. Once thick, pour into vegetable mixture and stir to combine.
- Fill pie shell with vegetable mixture.
- Top with mashed potatoes.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until pie crust starts to tan.
- Let cool for a few minutes before serving.