Vegetarian Shepard's Pie

This is deep comfort food. I replaced the usual lamb or beef stew filing with an equally hearty and very satisfying mushroom stew and subbed roasted garlic mashed potatoes for the blander plain mash pos. This makes for great left overs and keeps well for several days.


3 large russet potatoes

1 garlic bulb


milk, half & half or vegan milk substitute like soy milk

about 30 medium crimini mushrooms, cut into bite-sized chunks, about ¾ x ¾ inch

1 medium onion, diced

12 ozs frozen peas

2 cups carrots, large dice

1 cup green beans, 1 inch pieces

2 cups vegetable broth

small can of tomato paste

Dash of Worcester Sauce

1-2 teaspoons of minced rosemary


Cut the top of the garlic bulb, place on a square of foil and douse lightly with olive oil. Draw the edges of the foil up and twist into a little package. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about an hour until the garlic cloves are very soft. Remove from the oven and cool (this can be done the day before).

Cut the potatoes into about 2 inch squares and boil in salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot, with the heat on medium to allow the residual moisture to evaporate. Add butter and milk/cream. Squeeze the garlic bulb so that the garlic oozes out and add that to the potatoes. Then mash and stir until creamy, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Saute the carrots in a few tablespoons of olive oil until they begin to soften, about 7 minutes. Don't forget to season the carrots with salt as they cook. Remove the carrots from the pan and set them aside.

Add a bit more oil and begin to saute the onions. After several minutes add the green beans. Cook this mixture a few minutes more until the onions are softened, but the green beans still crisp. Add another couple of teaspoons of olive oil and a few tablespoons of butter to the saute pan and crank the heat up to high. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and saute until nicely browned and they've given up their liquid, 5 – 10 minutes. Don't crowd the mushrooms and saute in batches if necessary. Trust me, this makes a difference in both flavor and texture. Sprinkle the mushrooms with about three tablespoons of floor or two tablespoons of cornstarch (for our gluten free friends). There should be some good burnt bits on the bottom of the pan. Deglaze the pan with the broth. Add about two healthy tablespoons of tomato paste and stir until blended, scraping up all the tasty burnt bits. Add a tablespoon of Worcester Sauce and the rosemary. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Now add the other veggies to the pan, including the frozen peas, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for as long as you want, from 10 minutes to up to an hour. Add more broth if the mixture becomes too thick.

Turn the filing mixture out into a deep ceramic pie pan or a 9 x 9 inch pyrex pan. The filing shouldn't come up the sides of the pan more than about half way to leave room for the potatoes. Add the mashed potatoes on top of the filing, starting at the edges and working your way to the center of the pan. I like using a spatula for this, kind of troweling the mashed potatoes as I go. Another alternative is to use a pastry bag and pipe the potatoes onto the filing, making the whole thing really pretty. Now pop it in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. The potatoes will brown lightly. If you want them darker, set them under the broiler for a few minutes. Cut into either pie-shaped pieces or squares to serve.