Friday, 8 October 2010

Shepherds pie, vegetarian ~ an easy crowd pleaser

Everyone I know enjoys this meal, which is simple to make and appealing in all but the hottest weather.  It could be described as a casserole of thick vegetable stew baked under a topping of mashed potato.

If you put the potatoes on to cook and start sautéing your onions at the same time, you are likely to find that your stewed vegetable mixture is cooked at about the same time as the potatoes.  The method below reflects this approach. 

You will need plenty of mashed potatoes. 
To serve three to four people you could expect to use about a kilo (2 pounds) of potatoes. 

For the stew you will need:
  • Onions, chopped - 2.  Alternatively use one onion and a stick of celery.
  • Cumin, ground - 1 tsp
  • Marjoram - 1 tsp
  • Carrots - 2 large - finely chopped
  • Peas, frozen baby - 1 cup 
  • Baked beans - one tin (420 grams)  Alternatively you could use cooked lentils or red kidney beans just as effectively.
  • Soy sauce - 1 tablespoon - I use Kikkoman soy sauce
  • Tomato relish - 1 tablespoon
  • Cornflour - approximately 2 heaped teaspoons
  • Cider vinegar - 1 tablespoon - optional.  I've listed it last as it may be an ingredient to add if the stew seems a little bland.  A dash of a good cider vinegar can pick up the flavour wonderfully!  I use organic cider vinegar produced by Goulter's, a company based in Nelson, New Zealand.
  • Put the potatoes on to cook and grate the cheese so that it's ready to add later
  • Sauté onions well (and if using celery, this also).
  • Add marjoram and cumin and cook lightly
  • Add carrots, peas, baked beans, soy sauce and relish
  • Add a little water if necessary and simmer to allow vegetables to cook and flavours to mingle
  • Turn on the oven and set it to heat to about 160 - 180 degrees Celsius.
  • The potatoes and the stew will be ready at about the same time.  
  • Add about a cup of water to the stew along with the cornflour to thicken it slightly.  It's nice if it's a bit gooey but not too much.  Leave it on a low heat while you...
  • Drain any water from the potatoes and add the desired amount of salt pepper and, if you want it, the cheese.  Recipes for mashed potatoes often include milk or butter as well, which I find I don't need.
  • Tip the stew into a casserole dish and top it with the mashed potato.
  • Put it into the oven to stand in the heat until the stew bubbles up a little which is likely to take about 20 minutes - if you can wait that long, and brown it a little on top if you wish by switching the bake function to grill for about five further minutes.
If you're in a hurry to eat, which we usually are, you can skip the bit of putting it in the oven and simply serve the stew flanked with the mashed potato.  However, it must be said that baking it does change the flavour and texture of the whole thing which, in my view, is improved.

We had this for our dinner this evening and the recipe is exactly as I made it.  Silver beet planted in the autumn has come away well and when steamed is meltingly delicious at present.  It was a good accompanying vegetable.  Sorry, no photo due to the afore-mentioned haste!  

This is a meal which reheats well, either in the microwave or oven, but it's fairly unlikely you'll have any left!

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