So I take liberties just like most food writers. It may differ from the traditional but it still makes for what we in England would call good grub which is what matters.
This version combines vegetarian mince and red kidney beans in a rich tomato sauce to create a great almost Shepherds Pie that is vegetarian friendly.
Cooking Time: Around 1 hour
- 200g/8oz Vegetarian Mince
- ½ 400g/15oz can Red Kidney Beans
- ½ 400g/15oz can Chopped Tomato
- 1 medium brown Onion
- 2 cloves Garlic or a teaspoon of crushed from a jar
- ½ small Red Pepper
- 1-2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 250ml/½ pint Vegetable Stock
- 500g/1lb Mashed Potato
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- Sea Salt
- Ground Black Pepper
- Crumble a vegetable stock cube into a cup or jug. Add in about 275ml/½ pint boiling water then mix well to dissolve. Set aside.
- Turn on the oven so that it will heat to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
- Peel and chop the onion.
- Top and tail the red pepper then deseed and use a paring knife to cut off the white bits. Chop into reasonably chunky sized pieces.
- Peel the garlic cloves then chop or crush. Or skip and use some from a jar that is ready crushed. Both ways need about a teaspoonful.
- Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in the pressure cooker pot. It is at the right temperature when a small piece of onion thrown in will sizzle.
- Add the onion and the pepper to the hot oil and stir well to get them evenly coated. Fry for 1-2 minutes then add in the garlic and continue for a further minute.
- Add in the vegetarian mince, stir well then fry for a further 2-3 minutes to soften and blend the flavours.
- Drain and rinse the kidney beans. Add ½ the can into the pan and put the remainder into a sealed container with a destination of the fridge.
- Spoon half the can of tomatoes into the pan. Pour the remainder into a container for the fridge but retain the can for the next step.
- Half fill the tomato can with vegetable stock then swill it around to get the last of the tomato out. Add the mixture into the pressure cooker pot then add a little more stock so that it looks a little runny.
- Add in some tomato paste which will both colour and thicken.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Close up the pressure cooker and raise the pressure over a high heat. Reduce once it starts to steam then cook for about 5 minutes then carefully reduce the pressure.
- That is the vegetarian shepherds pie base completed.
Mashed Potato Topping
Prepare ahead of time then keep in the fridge. My approach is to make up a double batch one day. Use half on day 1 for something like bangers and mash then save the rest for day 2 to make a shepherds pie.
The mash is easier to handle when cold too and that is useful when putting the final pie together.
Putting it together
- Spoon the vegetarian shepherds pie base mixture into an oven proof dish. The aim is to roughly half fill a 20cm/8in dish. If the base mixture contains too much liquid then us a slotted spoon for this. Much better to serve a little extra gravy at the end than to have the mashed potato sink.
- Using a dessert spoon, cover the sauce with mashed potato. The trick is to work around the edges first but switching from one side of the dish to another. Then fill in the middle and smooth over. Use a fork to make _railway tracks_ on the top surface. Well that was what we always called them when I was a kid.
- Cook in the pre-heated oven for 30-40 minutes. The mashed potato topping should come up brown and crisp.
- Serve with some green vegetables such as broad beans or peas. Carrots are also good for some added colour.
I have made versions of this using either curry or sweet and sour sauce instead of the tomatoes. They all tasted equally good. None of them could truly be described as a Shepherds Pie. The important thing is that they all come out as very stomach filling dishes and that is the goal of cooking.