September 9, 2012

Comfort Food

With the sun shining bright this morning it’s hard to believe the tumultuous weather we had yesterday. If you didn’t experience it, you’d probably find it hard to believe. I kept waking up throughout the night whenever the rain began shipping across the house. It sounded so violent. Then waking up, the day just seemed like it would be a gloomy one. We laughed as we turned on the lights at 8am as the morning had gotten darker since waking up. That told us it was going to be a weird weather day. The rain came down so hard at times that our eaves-troughing couldn’t keep up and water poured over the sides. The water rose in our backyard (paved unfortunately) and we had to venture out with our rain boots to clear the drain of leaves. At times the rain stopped and the sun peaked out, but then another downpour followed. I’m not sure how many thunderstorms passed over our house yesterday. I know at least four, but I lost count after that. One began to wonder if it was all the same system or many mid-sized ones. The upside: We got a lot of work done at home. It was also a perfect excuse for Sheppard’s Pie.

This recipe is for a vegetarian Shepard’s Pie that is in The MoosewoodCookbook. The first time I made it I was in university and I fell in love with it. I haven’t made it in a while since potatoes don’t agree with me anymore, but my mom suggested trying some local squash we found at the market. It worked perfectly. I picked up two medium green and white squash (I thought they were sweet potato squash, but the vendor gave them another name), pierced them with a fork and cooked them in the oven until tender, about 45 mins. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the seeds and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Continue with the recipe as if they were mashed potatoes. The result: fabulous. The baked squash gave a different flavour and it complemented the vegetable hash perfectly. You may enjoy this version so much that you may just pass by the traditional meat-based Shepard’s Pie. I have yet to try one.

Note: The recipe looks long, but it isn’t, actually. Most of the time is spent chopping your veggies. I have combined steps for ease and I like how it’s turned out, and that is the recipe below. If you’d like the original from Katzen’s Moosewood, click on the link above.
*I left out the cheese this time round and it still all stuck together. Adjust the cayenne to your level of spiciness.


Shepard’s Pie         Serves 4-6 / 45 minutes to prepare, 25 minutes to bake
Mashed potato topping:
2 large potatoes
1 tbs butter
½ cup milk
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
½ cup fresh parsley, minced

Vegetable hash:
1 tbs olive oil
1 ½ cups onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
black pepper
1 stalk celery, finely minced
1 lbs mushrooms, chopped
1 lbs eggplant, diced
1 medium bell pepper, minced
2 tsp dried basil
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried oregano
1 cup peas
¾ cup grated cheese
¼ cup gluten-free bread crumbs
3 tbs cider vinegar
cayenne to taste

Mashed Topping:
Peel or scrub potatoes and cut into 1 inch chunks. Cook in boiling water until soft. Drain and transfer to a medium-large bowl. Add butter, garlic and milk. Mash well. Add salt and pepper and stir in parsley. Set aside.

Vegetable Hash:
Preheat oven to 350˚. Heat oil in a large deep skillet. Add onion and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic, salt, pepper, celery, mushrooms, eggplant and bell pepper. Stir until well combined, cover and cook over medium for 10 minutes. Stir frequently. Add herbs, stir and cover again. Cook for 5 minutes or until eggplant is tender. Remove from heat. Stir in peas, ½ cup cheddar, bread crumbs, vinegar and cayenne. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish and spread it out. Spread mashed potatoes over hash. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top and dust with paprika.
Bake uncovered for 25 or 30 minutes or until lightly browned on top and bubbly around the edges.  


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