Lentil Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie feat. Dijon Mashed Potatoes

We’re starting to get some lasting snow and ice on the ground. That means it’s time to start cooking up what I like to call hibernation food—warm, hearty dishes to fend off the cold and build up a sturdy winter bod! (Any excuse to feast during this time of year right?)

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This shepherd’s pie is a great starting point for comfort food and a generally swell vegetarian option. It can work with adding any spare vegetables you’ve got around in your fridge if you sautee them into the filling.

The real MVP here is the creamy warmth of the dijon mashed potatoes. The tang of the mustard cuts the earthy quality of the mushroom lentil filling with contrast and a buttery mouthfeel.

…I’m going to stop writing like Martha Stewart now and let you at this recipe.

Lentil Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie feat. Dijon Mashed Potatoes
Serves 4-6
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For the Potatoes
4-5 medium yukon gold potatoes
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Milk (non-dairy OR dairy is fine)
Sea salt
Butter (optional)

For the Filling
2 c. brown lentils, cooked
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 package (227g) brown or white mushrooms, sliced
2 medium carrots, diced
2-3 celery stalks, diced
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)

2-3 tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
1/3 c. red wine (optional)
1 c. vegetable stock (optional)
1 tbsp. arrowroot flour or cornstarch (optional)

1. Prepare the potatoes by quartering them and putting them in a large pot. Cover with water, salt generously. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat and cook until fork tender. Drain the water and mash the potatoes vigorously. Stir in mustard and splash with milk, mixing to a thick, desired consistency. Add butter and salt to taste. Set aside.

2. In a large pan, sautée the garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until golden and fragrant. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until slightly translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook until brown and slightly shrunken, stirring occasionally.

3. When the mushrooms are cooked, add the celery and carrots, stirring until slightly softened. Now it’s time to add the lentils! If using the canned variety, drain and rinse them before adding, stirring to ensure everything is evenly mixed.

4. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Now add the soy sauce and red wine to the lentil mixture, stirring until it has evaporated. Add your peas and stir through, fresh or frozen. Taste the mixture to check your seasonings.

5. Optional step: if you want a thicker consistency for your filling, whisk 1 tbsp. arrowroot flour or cornstarch into 1 c. vegetable stock. Pour into the pan, turning up the heat to simmer and activate. (If using arrowroot, whisk quickly!)

6. Pour the lentil mixture and spread evenly into a deep, square ovenproof dish— roughly 10 x 10. Cover the mixture with the dijon mash, spreading evenly. Bake in the oven until the potatoes are browned on top–about 20 minutes.

7. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes to let the ingredients “settle.” Serve and enjoy!

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#AVeryVeganApril

Okay that title isn’t accurate, but #AVeryVeganFortnight didn’t sound as good. (Also, have a picture of a Highland cow, vegan creature and unofficial mascot of this post… because I like Highland cows.)

The challenge: eat vegan for two weeks, from April 1-14. No using recipes I’ve tried before to make it happen. (I could eat peanut noodles with tempeh forever, soooo…)

Why: For fun! I like cooking, and I eat a lot of cheese, so this is a good way to change things up and try new dishes and ingredients.

How’s it goin’, eh?: I eat vegetarian about six days a week, so this maybe isn’t as hard for me as it might be for someone who eats more animal products. THAT BEING SAID,  friends came from out of town and wanted to meet for the best smoked meat in Montreal so, at least ONE lunch was a delicious bust.

My kitchen has changed up too! I’ve tried new recipes, ventured into tapioca starch, and made vegan queso. (I also screwed up Veganaise by using almond milk instead of soy.)

The biggest change I’ve noticed is that I’m taking care to read a lot more labels. I look at ingredients to scan for animal products, and in the process, I’m noticing all the additives and preservatives that are even in the healthy foods that I eat (especially things like breads or tortillas). Here’s to nosh with less additives?

What are you eating, dude?:

Uhm, basically whatever I want, without the cheese? It has been a lot of curious comfort food and some indulgent bites, but I’m always trying to add more vegetables to everything, and I’ve got a veggie burger recipe coming that BLEW. MY. MIND. So stay tuned for that!