Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Not Too Late to Celebrate My Irish Roots!

So I wanted to do something Irish because in my heart of hearts, I believe I am Irish (or British, or Scottish.... whatever I really feel like that day), and having a little bit of the celtic tradition isn't bad at all, especially when it comes to good ol' comforting potatoes.  But~ what more can be Irish than Shepherd's Pie and Guinness?
Frankly, since I've been on my clean/gluten-free eating regime, it hasn't been the easiest.  I mean, I LOVE sandwiches, and the rule is: NO bread (even if it is gluten free), NO rich foods (like vegan cheese sauces), just simple, plucked-from-God's-green-earth to your table kind of food, which I love, but when you see someone walking around chowing down a pizza, your jealousy arouses.  Grrr!  :)

So~ I was really happy to see that Shepherd's Pie would be an easy, YES food that I could eat and enjoy.  YAY!  I looked at a couple different recipes and wanted to make something as authentic and close to traditional Irish Shepherd's Pie as possible, so the following is the end result.  However, I did add beer to the recipe instead of water because, let's face it, what true Irishman would add water when they could add Guinness?  (because of my gluten free diet, I used gluten free dark beer instead of Guinness).  The end result?  Massive flavor and just the right amount of starch that anyone from the old country would love.

Vegan Shepherd's Pie
(inspired by Danny Boome's recipe and Vegan Shepherd's Pie recipe)
serves 4-6 (depending on how ravenous you are)

Mashed Potato layer:
5 russet potatoes
1 c coconut milk OR a non-dairy milk of choice
1/4 c olive oil OR 3-4 Tbsp earth balance
2 tsp salt

Sauce for Filling:
2 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Tomato paste
1/2 a vegetable bouillon cube mixed into 
1/2 c beer
1-2 Tbsp soy sauce 

Bottom layer / Filling:
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1/2-1 c peas
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp thyme
2-8 oz pkgs of tempeh OR 15 oz of meatless meat crumbles OR 1-16 oz pkg of extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and cubed
2 Tbsp soy sauce OR BRAGG'S liquid aminos OR Tamari

1.  Make mashed potatoes.  Put potatoes in pot with salted water to cover and cook until fork tender.  While potatoes are boiling, prepare the "meat".  
*If using tempeh:
Cut tempeh into 1 in. cubes and put in a saucepan/skillet with 2 Tbsp soy sauce and let simmer for 20 min. or until water is evaporated/absorbed.  Mash with a masher, then sautee with some oil for 10-15 min. until the tempeh resembles meat crumbles.  
*If using tofu: 
stir fry tofu cubes until crisp on each side OR put in oven on BROIL for about 15-20 min. until cooked all around.
*If using meatless crumbles: 
follow package directions.  
2.  When the potatoes are about done, bring the milk and butter/oil to just bubbling on the stove.  Then drain and mash the potatoes and pour in the liquids: the key is to heat the liquid and fat, and pour into warm potatoes so the potatoes absorb all the liquid and create that creamy consistency.
3.  Now, let's finish the remaining filling parts.  
Stir fry onion, carrots, celery, garlic in another pan till just mildly tender.  Stir in thyme and peas and tempeh.  add tomato paste first, sautéing for a minute, then add remaining sauce ingredients.  Bring to a boil, when heated through, turn off stove.
4.  In a casserole dish or  9 x 13 baking dish, layer the meat and veggies down evenly, then layer on mashed potatoes.  if desired, add vegan cheese on top.  
Bake at 400 for 20 min. 

I can't tell you how delicious this was.  I think I'm going to take the filling/stew-y bit next week, add a little bit of tomato sauce (just a touch) and pour it over some brown rice pasta and call it pasta putanesca.  Mmmm~  It's making me hungry just thinking about it. :)
If you make this dish, let me know what you think.  Happy Dingus Day everyone!

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