Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s pie is the quintessential comfort food. Red wine laced stew covered in creamy mashed potatoes? Yes, please! Traditionally made with beef or lamb and topped with cream and butter laden potatoes, Shepherd’s pie can be far from a health conscious meal. With this recipe, I set out to change that.

I wanted a dish that was full of whole foods (no meat substitutes or soy “creamer” here!), rich in flavor, and comforting to boot. The backbone of the stew is cubed tempeh, which could also be grated for an alternative texture. Tempeh is a fermented soy product which is a complete protein high in B vitamins, magnesium, and copper.  If you are aiming to make this dish gluten free make sure to buy pure soy tempeh – some versions are made with gluten containing grains. A variety of fall vegetables are added to the mix, which is then simmered in a red wine gravy. The whole thing is topped with creamy mashed potatoes that contain a secret ingredient – celeriac. Celeriac is a root vegetable in the celery family which adds an unexpected flavor to the mash, along with fiber, potassium and B vitamins.

The only thing this dish lost in the conversion is fat and calories. I served it for Thanksgiving this year with a green salad on the side, and it was the first holiday meal I left satisfied but not stuffed.


12 oz frozen pearl onions, thawed
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 1/2  pounds soy tempeh, cubed
3 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, quartered
1 pound carrots, peeled, halved, and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 pound parsnips, peeled, halved, and chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoon thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
1 (750 ml) bottle red wine (I used Merlot)
3 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 1/2 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
3/4 pound celeriac, peeled and chopped into 2 inch pieces
sea salt and pepper to taste

  1.  Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add the leeks and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms release their liquid, about 5 minutes.  Add the tempeh, carrots, parsnips, thyme and rosemary.  Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are barely cooked, about 12 minutes.  Transfer vegetables to a bowl.
  3. Add the bottle of wine to the empty pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 1 cup, 10-15 minutes.  Add the stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer.
  4. In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water.  Slowly whisk cornstarch mixture into the broth/wine mixture, whisking constantly.  Add the pearl onions and the vegetable mixture to the broth.  Simmer on low, covered, for 30 minutes.
  5. While the stew simmers, prepare the mashed potatoes.  Place the potatoes and celeriac in a pan.  Cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, until potatoes are cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid and drain the potatoes.  Return the potatoes to the cooking pan and mash with a potato masher.  Mix in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and enough cooking liquid to create creamy mashed potatoes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Preheat the broiler.  Remove the stew from heat.  Stir in 1/2 chopped parsley.  Season stew with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the stew into a large baking dish.  Top with the mashed potatoes.  Broil until the top is browned, about 5 minutes.

Serves 8

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