This is a vegetarian twist to a classic shepherd’s pie: hearty and humbling, warm and comforting. Perfect dish for late autumn or cold winter night.
The root vegetables I used for this dish are a combination of textures and color. You can use almost any root vegetables; rutabaga, turnip, parsnip, Jerusalem artichokes, celeriac, jicama, kohlrabi; all the homely vegetables that are tucked away in the produce section, most of the time they go unnoticed and underestimated. They grow underground and absorb nutrients from the soil which makes them nutritional powerhouses.
How to make the Pie
I usually start with prepping the vegetables; peeling and chopping them. I use my Braun food processor’s french fry attachment. It gives me almost uniformed strips (Batons) under a minute.
Start boiling the potatoes for the pie crust. This will take 20-30 minutes.
Once I have my vegetables ready, I start by heating up my cast iron heavy bottom large pot with butter or olive oil and sauteing the onions, carrots and celery.
After that, I start layering my vegetables one after another giving each one enough time to bath in the oil and liquid released by other vegetables. Some vegetables cook faster than the others, and I season them with salt and pepper as I add the new one. The salt will help to release more liquid.
I add them in the following order:
- Onions, leeks
Once I see that most of the moisture is gone and the bottom of the pan is dry I add the chopped garlic into one corner of the pan, stirring it in it’s isolated corner for a minute. Then I add chopped herbs and give it a good stir.
Sprinkle the vegetables with 1-2 tablespoon of flour (all purpose or rice) to help the broth to thicken. Stir for 2-3 minutes to coat all the vegetables and distribute evenly.
I usually de-glaze my pan with wine but it can be done with broth or any other liquid. Add one cup of the liquid and stir until all the liquid is evaporated.
Pour the broth and bring it to a boil. Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. Taste for done-ness and seasoning.
Adjust the seasoning. The pie filling is ready.
By now the potatoes are done. I drain my potatoes but reserve a cup of water. Once the potatoes are cooled, I mush or rice them. I add the butter, salt and pepper and mix my mushed potatoes by hand. Add the reserved liquid one tablespoon at a time until it reaches nice smooth consistency.
To assemble the pie, I ladle the stewed vegetables into the baking dish and pipe the mushed potatoes on top.
The pies are ready to go into a 375°F preheated oven.
Can you add meat to this dish?
Absolutely. I would braised the beef separately for an hour. Add the beef right before pouring in the broth. With a bit of an effort you can divide the stew into individual bowls and add the braised beef chunks to selected ones. This way you can please carnivores and vegetarians at the same dinner.
Gardener’s Pie with Root Vegetables
- 2-3 tablespoon Olive oil or butter
- 1 Onion diced
- 2 Parsnips peeled, diced
- 1 Carrot peeled, diced
- 2 Rutabaga peeled, diced
- 2 Turnip peeled, diced
- 1 Yam peeled, diced
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- 8 oz Mushrooms portobello
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 T fresh thyme leaves
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups veggie stock
- 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup fresh Italian Parsley
- 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- 1/2 cup Milk or water more or less
- White pepper
Make the stew:
- Heat the oil or butter in the large heavy bottom pot.2-3 tablespoon Olive oil
- Add the diced onions and cook for a few minutes until translucent and glossy then add the minced garlic and cook for one minute.1 Onion, 2 cloves Garlic
- Add the diced root vegetables except for yam (turnip, parsnip, rutabaga, carrots).2 Parsnips, 1 Carrot, 2 Turnip, 2 Rutabaga
- Season with salt and pepper and saute for 10 minutes.
- Add the yam, mushrooms, and chopped thyme and season with salt and pepper.1 Yam, 8 oz Mushrooms portobello, 1 T fresh thyme leaves
- Dust the vegetables with flour and stir to coat all the vegetables and to avoid flour pockets. Cook for 4-5 minutes.2 tablespoons flour
- De-glaze the pot with the wine and keep stirring until all the vegetables soak up the wine and there is no more liquid in the bottom.1 cup red wine
- Pour the hot broth over the vegetables add half of the chopped parsley.3 cups veggie stock, 1/2 cup fresh Italian Parsley
- If using the balsamic vinegar add to the liquid. Give it a good stir, cover, and let the stew cook for another 4-5 minutes until the juices are thickened and all the vegetables are cooked.1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Adjust the seasoning and add the remaining chopped parsley.1/2 cup fresh Italian Parsley
Making Potato Crust
- Wash and peel the potatoes.2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
- Cut the potatoes into thick slices, cover with cold water and bring it to a boil. Add the salt and let it cook until soft and fork-tender.
- Drain the potatoes and keep a cup of liquid to add back to the mashed potatoes.
- Mash the potatoes with a smasher or potato ricer.
- Add the oil or butter and season with salt. Mix well.3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- Add the reserved liquid to make the potatoes more lighter consistency. You can use milk for a creamier texture. Season with white pepper or black pepper.1/2 cup Milk or water more or less, White pepper
- Once ready to serve, scoop the stew into a baking dish or individual oven-proof bowls.
- Spread or pipe the mashed potatoes over the stew.
- Put the pie into the oven and cook in the preheated oven 375 until bubbly.
- Turn on the broiler if you want the potatoes to be more golden brown.