Monday, May 26, 2014

Farmer’s pie (for the vegetarian shepherd)

Typically a shepherd’s pie is a meat pie with a mashed potato topping. What would you call it then if it doesn’t have meat? Well, I called it “Farmer’s pie”, but creative name suggestions are welcome :-). Irrespective of the name, it makes a delicious and hearty meal coupled with a salad and maybe some bread. I used chickpeas as the base ingredient to pull everything together, but any kind of beans can be used. If you’re not particularly fond of beans or don’t need the extra protein in the pie, beans can be skipped and you could use more vegetables of any kind you like. The ingredients I used were what I had at home, but other vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, squash etc.) could be used as well. 

1 medium onion - chopped (~3/4 cup chopped)
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 carrots – chopped
~¾ cup chopped green beans
1 small bell pepper – chopped
1 can of chickpeas (or ~1.5 cup cooked chickpeas)
½ cup of cooked red lentils (optional – I used this because I had some leftover)
1 Tbsp oil
Paprika (optional)
Cumin powder (optional)
Vegetable stock/water (if required)

For the topping:
~4-5 red potatoes (or any other kind) - boiled
1 sweet potato (optional) - boiled
1 Tbsp butter

Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and carrots and sauté until the onion is translucent. If using cumin powder, add that at this point. Add green beans, bell pepper and cook for a minute. Mix in chickpeas and lentils, salt, pepper and paprika (adjust to taste). Cover and cook for a few minutes until the chickpeas are soft. Use a fork or a potato masher, mash the mixture just a little, but make sure there is still a good texture to the filling for the pie. If the filling seems dry, add a little stock or water and let it heat through to make sure the mixture is moist. 

Mashed potato topping:
Mash the boiled potatoes separately. Divide the butter and add it to the potatoes. Add milk if required to mash them to a smooth texture. Season with salt.

Assembling and baking the pie:
Fill a casserole/baking dish (I used a 8x8 glass dish) with the pie filling, leveling it with the back of a spoon. Top it with the mashed potatoes. You can get creative here and make any design you would like. Piping the potatoes with a frosting tip is also a good option. I just spooned the potatoes over the filling alternating between regular and sweet potatoes, and then made a pattern on it with a fork. The patterns help make several edges on the mashed potatoes which crisp up in the oven.

If you’re not baking right after making the filling and the topping, let the pie heat through in the oven at 400 F for about 10 min. If the filling and topping is still hot, this step can be skipped since everything is already cooked. Broil on high until the top is browned a little. Serve warm.