A lot of people these days are looking for a way to reduce their consumption of meat. Whether that’s for health reasons, to help the planet, or to cope with tighter budgets; campaigns such as “Meat Free Monday” and “Veganuary” are gathering a lot of support.
I think it’s GREAT to see more and more people eating less meat! It can’t be bad for us to chomp on more vegetables right? However, I do understand that cooking without meat can feel like a big challenge if you’re not used to it. And when the food budget is already tight, do you really want to risk buying ingredients for something you might not like? I know I don’t often have the spare cash to take that risk – not to mention my aversion to any form of food waste!
With all that in mind, I introduce my family’s take on Meat-Free Shepherd’s Pie. It’s filling, comforting and packed full of vegetables and goodness. I don’t use any “Meat substitute” or any weird ingredients – in fact you probably have everything you need already! It’s a great recipe for using up the veg left at the bottom of the fridge – you can even add in frozen veggies too to bulk it out further. Plus it’s great value for money, and you get a big bang for your buck.
Meat Free Shepherd’s Pie – Ingredients.
- 1 large onion, chopped.
- 2 sticks celery, chopped.
- 2 large carrots, chopped.
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced.
- 1- 1.5kg white potatoes, peeled and quartered.
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes.
- 1 x 300g tin beans (I used Cannelini beans, but you can use any, including baked beans. Just rinse them thoroughly and gently)
- 1 x 300g tin green lentils, rinsed.
- 150g any frozen veg e.g. peas, sweet corn etc
- 1 tbsp tomato puree.
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar.
- 2 tsp Marmite/yeast extract.
- 1 tbsp dried mixed herbs.
- Vegetable oil for frying.
- Margarine and milk for the mash – I used Soy milk and sunflower oil margarine to make mine Vegan, but any is fine.
Meat Free Shepherd’s Pie – Method.
- Heat a good splash of vegetable oil in a large, deep frying pan and add your onion, celery, carrots and 1 tbsp mixed herbs. Stir fry on a medium heat until the onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes or so.
- Next add your garlic with 1 tbsp of the balsamic vinegar and some salt. Give it a good stir and reduce the heat a little, then leave to cook for another 5 minutes until your vegetables are starting to soften.
- Meanwhile, add your peeled potatoes to a large pan and cover with cold water. Salt liberally, cover with a lid and put on a high heat until boiling. Let them bubble away until tender, then drain and mash with your margarine and milk until thick and fluffy.
- Preheat your oven to 190c and move the shelf to the middle.
- Back to your pan of veggies; stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, Marmite, leftover balsamic vinegar, green lentils and beans. Fill the chopped tomato can halfway with water and add to the pan too, then season with more salt and pepper.
- Simmer for about 10 minutes, then add in your 150g frozen veg (I used peas) and simmer again for another 10 minutes or so. Don’t be afraid to add splashes of water here and there if it’s getting too thick!
- Pour your vegetables into a large oven proof dish and smooth out until level. Top carefully with your fluffy mashed potatoes, ensuring there’s an even layer throughout the dish. Smooth the top. Season again with salt and pepper, then pop in the oven for 20-40 minutes until bubbling and slightly crispy round the edges.
- Leave to stand for about 5 minutes, just to cool slightly. It will be scalding hot inside there! Then cut into squares and serve in a deep dish. You don’t need to add anything to it as a side, but if you wanted to then some green beans or spring cabbage would be lovely with this.
There you have it! Do let me know if you decide to have a go making this for yourself – I would love to hear what you think.
Much love xx