It’s Thanksgiving today! I’m so trilled to have a few days off with my husband and kids and to be able to enjoy the outdoor autumn scenes. Even if it’s not even close to the cold winter temperatures I’m used to, we are loosing a few degrees here as well and everybody's saying that winter is coming… At least the Californian’s definition of winter!
Even here, eating local is a little bit harder. If you're receiving organic vegetables and fruits from a farmer’s box every week, you know what I’m talking about.... You get thirty parsnips or ten celeriac roots and you have no clue what to do with them.... I’m lucky to have a wonderful farmer's market that runs through the winter months, but I still have to get creative with all these forgotten and weird veggies. As much as I adore the fresh and local produce of the summer, I also really enjoy the hearty, hot and comforting foods of winter too. It’s even better when it’s turned into healthy comfort food! When life gives you root vegetables, make shepherd’s pie!
Shepherd’s pie, or “pâté chinois” as we like to call it in Quebec, traditionally consists of a layer of corn in between meat and the potatoes. Each French Canadian family have their own version. Some say that it is an untouchable classic, others, like me, prefer to vary the ingredients to give it a little twist. I normally cook a spicy tempeh base to replace the meat with corn in the middle and mashed sweet potatoes on top. It’s definitely one of my favourite comfort food recipe! Plus I've never seen a kid who didn't like this family dish!
Since it’s Thanksgiving week, I was in the mood for cooking something comforting like this family meal… but I swap the tempeh for black lentils and I used all these weird looking root vegetables I bought at the Farmer’s market last Sunday.
This vegan recipe is hearty, so pretty and satisfying. I should’ve called this post the ULTIMATE shepherd’s pie. I usually serve my Shepherd’s pie with homemade marinated beets, but this time, I mixed this bright red root vegetable in the lentils mixture, as well as other colourful veggies like blue potatoes, parsnips, butternut squash and carrots. You could use whatever root vegetables you have under hand, but using red beets will add color to this perfect "meatless" holiday dish!
I also added celeriac to the traditional potato puree. It adds a lightness to the puree and gives it a subtle but nice celery-like flavour with nutty overtones.
To add even more texture, I topped my Shepherd's pie with rosemary, pecan and gluten-free breadcrumb crumble. Although you can do this pie without it, the little crunchiness of the crumble contrasts with the soft side of the dish.
Pecans, root vegetables, mashed potatoes... does it sounds "Thanksgiving" enough to you? Maybe not the traditional turkey and gravy dish, but this festive family dish is so damn good!
This meal is also a great weekend recipe that leaves leftovers for the week. It’s even better the next day! It just really allows the flavours to come together to their fullest.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my Americans friends!
Root vegetables & lentils Shepherd's pie
Yield : 8 servings
Ingredients for the lentils and vegetables mixture base :
1 onion, diced
About 10 cups root vegetables, diced in 1 cm (half-inch cubes) - See note
1 tablespoon minced thyme
1 teaspoon minced rosemary
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon gluten-free Tamari
1 cup black lentils (or 1 can (2 cups) of cooked lentils, rinsed and drained) - See note
1 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
A pinch chilli flakes
6 cups vegetable stock (or more if needed)
2 teaspoons organic cornstarch + 1 tablespoon cold water
Ingredients for the potato and celeriac puree :
2 celery root (celeriac), diced
6 medium potatoes (700g), peeled and diced
3/4 cup to 1 cup almond milk (depending on the texture you want to reach)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 tablespoons Earth balance (or organic butter or olive oil)
Salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for the crumble (optional) :
1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumb (or regular breadcrumb or cornmeal)
1/2 cup raw pecans
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
- In a large pot, cook the diced onion in olive oil until soften (5 minutes or so). Add the minced garlic, rosemary, thyme, chili flakes and cook 1-2 minutes. Add salt and pepper.
- Add in the 1 cm (half-inch) diced vegetables and lentils. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the tamari, balsamic vinegar and vegetable stock and stir well. The liquid should cover all the vegetables and lentils (depending on what vegetables you chose, you may need to add a little bit less or more liquid). Be sure to keep an eye on the liquid level and adjust if necessary.
- Bring to a boil and then simmer until the vegetables and lentils are cooked (around 45 minutes).
- Meanwhile, cover the diced potatoes and celeriac with water. Add the minced garlic and cook at medium heat until soft (about the same time - 45 minutes).
- In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch to the cold water and stir well to combine. When the root vegetables and lentils are cooked, pour in that mixture and stir. Set aside.
- Warm up the almond milk in a small sauce pan.
- When the potatoes and celeriac are cooked, add in the almond milk and Earth balance (butter) and pour into a food processor. Pulse a few times (not too much!). You can also do it by hand with a potato masher if you prefer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- For the crumble, place all the ingredients in the food processor and pulse.
- Divide the vegetables and lentils filling among 8 small ramekins or pour in a 10-inch rectangle baking dish.
- Then, divide the puree and pour on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle with a little bit of pecan crumble and garnish with thyme leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.
- At 400F, bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. You can put to broil for the last 2-3 minutes (be sure to keep a close eye, the crumble burns easily!).
This time I used : 3 carrots, 2 blue potatoes, 4 small beets, 2 small turnips, 1/2 small butternut squash. If the color of your mixture isn't red enough for you, you can blend a raw beet with a little bit of water in your blender (grate the beet if you don't have a high speed blender) and pour that juice into the pot. It will result in a bright red color, so pretty with the white mashed potatoes/celeriac puree.
For the lentils : If you use canned lentils instead of raw lentils, don't pour them in the pot with the raw veggies. Be sure to add them only at the end (about 5 minutes before your veggies are cooked).