Having a British husband made me curious about the British cuisine. I looked up several recipes and I was instantly interested in the vegetarian version of Shepherd’s Pie, also known as “Shepherdless Pie”. This savoury pie looked substantial and healthy enough to serve for lunch or dinner and it seemed to go well with all sorts of steamed vegetables. When I first made a veggie version of Shepherd’s Pie based on the below recipe from Forks over Knives, my husband said it was really tasty. If an Englishman says that, then the recipe must evoke traditional flavours!
I also find the history of Shepherd’s Pie interesting. I learned that originally it was called “Cottage Pie” and was first made at around the 1790s in Northern England. The name comes from the cottages, where poor people lived at that era. At around this time, potatoes were introduced to England and were were very affordable, so poor people ate them very frequently. The women of that era thought that they could combine leftover meat with potatoes, so they created a layered pie from leftover roasted meat and mashed potatoes. The added mashed potato crust to the top, for a nice and crunchy finish and called this dish “Cottage Pie”.
Later, in 1877, the term “Shepherd’s Pie” was introduced to the British culinary world. Ever since it is used synonymously with “Cottage Pie”. These days, the British call the dish “Shepherd’s Pie” when the meat used in the pie is lamb. If it is made with other types of minced meat, then the pie is called “Cottage Pie”.
Now, let’s see my favourite recipe for a delicious veggie Sherphed’s Pie, or if you like, Shepherdless Pie.
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced small
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced small
- 2 stalks celery, diced small
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 sprig rosemary (alternatively use dried rosemary)
- 350 grams green lentils, rinsed
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper according to taste
- 8 medium red-skin potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 4 parsnips, peeled and chopped
- Place the onion, carrot, and celery in a large saucepan and sauté over low to medium heat for 10 minutes. Add water if needed to keep the vegetables from sticking to the pan. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the rosemary, lentils, bay leaf, and enough water to cover the lentils by 3 inches. Bring them to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes, covered with a lid.
- Preheat the oven to 175° Celsius. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper, according to taste. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf and rosemary sprig (unless you use dried herbs), and pour the lentils into a large baking dish.
- In the meantime, add the potatoes and parsnips to a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring the pot to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook the vegetables for approximately 15 minutes, covered. Remove the potatoes and parsnips from the heat and drain. Mash the vegetables until smooth and creamy, then season with additional salt and pepper, according to taste. Once it is smooth, spread the mixture evenly over the lentils.
- Bake the casserole for 25 minutes. Before serving, set it aside for 10 minutes. Serve it with steamed French beans, broccoli, carrots or salad greens.