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Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

This is a bright and fun take on shepherd’s (or cottage) pie. Our parsnip harvest just started – and they are huge this year! There are endless ways to prepare parsnips, but honestly mashed with butter is my favorite. The carrots are a nice pair with the parsnips. To change things up the carrots and parsnips make the traditional potato topping, and the bottom is savory black lentils with red wine, rosemary, and onions. Baking this in a cast iron skillet works nicely, but if you don’t have one a casserole or baking dish works fine. I like to use black (sometimes called French lentils) they are small and always cook nice and soft. If you’ve ever had undercooked lentils, you’ll know what I mean! To avoid the dreaded undercooked lentil, I always boil them first before adding them to a dish. If you want to veganize this dish, all you’ll need to do is sub your favorite non-dairy milk and non-dairy butter substitute.

Vegetarian Carrot & Parsnip Pie

Start by peeling and chopping the root vegetables, and then boiling them until super soft. While the vegetables are cooking, simmer the lentils. If you organize the steps this dish shouldn’t take too long, and on a cold night the results will be well worth the effort!

Carrot & Parsnip Puree

When the lentils are tender, prepare the filling. Sauté the onions garlic, rosemary, tomato paste, and liquid before adding the lentils to the pan. Simmer everything until the liquid evaporates a bit. When the root vegetables are soft purée with an immersion blender or transfer to food processor. If you want a very smooth purée got with the food processor. If little bits of carrot don’t bother you (they don’t bother me), an immersion blender is fine.

Vegetarian Carrot & Parsnip Shepherd's Pie

Carrot & Parsnip Shepherd’s Pie

2 cups roughly chopped and peeled carrots
3 cups roughly chopped and peeled parsnips
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup whole milk or heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper

1 1/2 cups lentils
4 cups vegetable stock
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon dry or 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup vegetable stock or water
salt and pepper

Place the carrots and parsnips in a pot and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 -40 minutes until very soft. While the roots are simmering melt the 3 tablespoons of the butter and milk together. Purée the cooked roots and melted butter/milk mixture together in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and as much black pepper as you’d like. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Place the lentils and stock in a pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes until the lentils are very soft. Add more liquid if necessary, drain the lentils at the end of cooking. In a cast iron skillet, cook the onions, garlic, and rosemary over medium low heat until onions are softened. Add wine, water or stock, and tomato paste. Stir to incorporate tomato paste. Cook over low heat until the liquid thickens and the mixture is moist, but not watery. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Spread the purée over the top and broil for 2 -3 minutes or until the crust starts to brown.

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