The shepherd’s or cottage pie is something I have only read about in English storybooks. I learned later that it was the quintessential peasant food made with leftover meat and mashed potatoes.
I recently saw it being made on America’ test kitchen and it looked like it could be tasty. I decided to try a vegetarian version that would be somewhat akin to aloo tikki or a ragda patties of my schooldays in Mumbai. Yesterday I made some for a dinner to share with neighbors and it was quite the success. How do I know? We ate all of it !
A Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
This is really a simple dish with a flavorful sautéed vegetable and beans filling topped by creamy mashed potatoes which is then baked to form a crust on top. You could make a large one and serve wedges or make some smaller individual ones for the kids. They will love having their own.
Before you start cooking, place a small plate in the freezer.
Make mashed potatoes using your own method. I peel and then boil large chunks and drain them. Mash them to your favorite consistency (I like a bit of texture) with the milk and butter and salt and pepper. I added two sweet potatoes for flavor and color. You can do the same with the turmeric and paprika (or an egg yolk) if you would like a golden crust.
Sauté the onions, garlic and other vegetables in a large pan. If you use a cast iron pan you can slide the pan into the oven later. A baking dish will also suffice. Add the spices and other vegetables in sequence with the mushrooms and herbs going in last. Salt and add the beans or chick peas when the vegetables are half done. Salt to taste and splash a bit of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar.
Now cover the filling with the mashed potatoes evenly and use a fork at the end to create a pattern of ridges. This will make the crust crispy. Use your imagination to make visually appealing swirls or faces. Have your kids do it for fun.
Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and slide the pan in for 30 minutes. Turn up the heat to 400°F (200°C) after 15 minutes. For a crispier crust you can switch to broil for the last 5 minutes.
Serve with a fresh salad and a side of green vegetables. Enjoy.