Saturday, March 10, 2018

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

Photo courtesy of Crafty Lumberjacks

This past Christmas, Jen was fixing a holiday meal for a mixed vegan and non-vegan crowd. She didn’t want to disappoint them with a dish that didn’t leave everyone feeling satisfied - holiday meal-level satisfied. Working with her brother Andrew and his partner Dennis of the Crafty Lumberjacks – Vegan Shepherd’s Pie was born. Even the non-vegans of the crowd said that they would be able to eat vegan food all the time if it tasted like this. A carnivore converter - it was a Christmas miracle!

Shepherd’s Pie, traditionally made with lamb, is definitely one of the meatier comfort foods that comes to mind. We bet most people would be skeptical of a vegan version, thinking you wouldn’t be able to get that same rich flavor. But this recipe will not disappoint! So tell your friends and relatives to wear their stretchy pants when you make them this dish, because they are going to be stuffed after this meal, holiday meal-level stuffed!

If you haven't already, check out Andrew and Dennis of Crafty Lumberjacks' site - they have tons of holiday and craft inspiration that looks amazing!

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

For the filling:

1 recipe for tofu crumbles, recipe below which can be made ahead (or substitute with store-bought crumbles, such as Beyond Meat)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups vegetable stock
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stems removed and minced
Salt and pepper to taste
16 ounces (1 package) of frozen vegetable medley

For the topping:

6 small russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons vegan margarine (such as Earth Balance)
1 tablespoon vegetable bouillon (such as Better than Bouillon)
1/2 cup unsweetened plant milk of choice
Salt and pepper to taste

1.      Preheat the oven to 350F. Assemble the tofu crumbles per the recipe below. While the crumbles are in the oven, prepare the mashed potato topping. Add potatoes to a large pot of water, bring to a boil and let cook for about 20 minutes, or until soft. 

2.     While the potatoes cook, prepare the filling. In a large saucepan on low heat, add the olive oil and onion. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until softened.

3.     Add flour and stir until it is golden brown and has a soft paste consistency (about 3 minutes). If it gets too dry, add more oil.

4.     Slowly whisk in the vegetable stock and continue whisking until it is smooth, and the flour has incorporated. 

5.     Add the rosemary and stirring occasionally, let simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6.     While the gravy is simmering, drain the pot of potatoes then add the potatoes back into the pot. Add the plant milk, margarine, salt, pepper and bouillon. Mash until well combined, set aside. 

7.      Add the tofu crumbles and frozen vegetable mix to the gravy then pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish.

8.     Spread the mashed potatoes evenly on top of the filling. Place the casserole dish on a sheet pan and bake at 350F for 25 minutes, until the topping is just starting to turn golden. Let cool for a few minutes, and serve!

Tofu Meat Crumbles:
(Recipe from

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon soy sauce (gluten-free if preferred) 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 block extra-firm tofu, drained (no need to press it)

1.      Preheat the oven to 350F.  Lightly grease a large baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

2.     Mix the nutritional yeast, soy sauce, olive oil chili powder, garlic powder, and liquid smoke together in a large bowl. It will make a brown paste-like texture.

3.     Crumble the block of tofu with your fingers into the bowl along with the seasoning. Mix the tofu crumbles with the seasoning making sure all of the tofu is evenly coated. 

4.     Spread the tofu crumbles evenly over the pan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, stopping to stir the tofu every now and then. Keep a close eye on it towards the end so that it doesn't burn. You want the tofu to be nice and browned. The smaller crumbles will be darker than the larger crumbles, and that's ok because it will provide a variety of texture.