Recipe: Root Cause

photo and recipe by Erin Gautsche, www.farmtophilly.com
A seasonal spin on Shepherd’s Pie 

photo and recipe by erin gautsche, farmtophilly.com
This vegetarian casserole is a variation on the traditional Shepherd’s (or Cottage) Pie, created in England in the late 18th Century to feed poor working families.  The top layer features the ubiquitous (and cheap!) potato; we’ve replaced the traditional filling of leftover meat with a flavorful mix of vegetables and tempeh and made the crust out of lentils.  
A few tips: 1) For even more nutrient power add chopped winter greens. 2) This casserole is good even without the lentil crust, so if you’re short on time, you can easily skip it.  3) For a vegan version, omit the cheese and use rice milk in the mashed potatoes.

Root CauseA seasonal spin on Shepherd’s Pie photo and recipe by erin gautsche, farmtophilly.comThis vegetarian casserole is a variation on the traditional Shepherd’s (or Cottage) Pie, created in England in the late 18th Century to feed poor working families.  The top layer features the ubiquitous (and cheap!) potato; we’ve replaced the traditional filling of leftover meat with a flavorful mix of vegetables and tempeh and made the crust out of lentils.  

A few tips: 1) For even more nutrient power add chopped winter greens. 2) This casserole is good even without the lentil crust, so if you’re short on time, you can easily skip it.  3) For a vegan version, omit the cheese and use rice milk in the mashed potatoes.

 POTATO TOPPING2        

  • Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2        sweet potatoes
  • 1        cup milk
  • 1        tbsp. butter

 TEMPEH

  •  12      oz. crumbled tempeh
  •  2        cups water
  •  ½      cup soy sauce
  •  1        bay leaf

  CRUST

  •  1        cup green lentils
  •  1 ½    cups water
  •  4        tbsp. flour
  •  1        egg

 FILLING

  •  2        tbsp. olive oil
  •  1        onion, diced
  • 4         cloves of garlic, diced
  •  3        stalks of celery, chopped
  •  4        cups sliced crimini mushrooms
  •  ½      cup red wine
  •  4        carrots, diced
  •  2        parsnips, diced
  •  1         tsp. dried sage
  •  1         tsp. dried thyme
  •  2         tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  •            mushroom stock or bullion
  •  6        oz. shredded aged sharp cheddar cheese
  •             salt and pepper
  •  1         tbsp. olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel and dice potatoes and sweet potatoes, and boil in salted water until soft, about 15 minutes. Place the potatoes in a mixer with salt, pepper, milk and butter, and beat until smooth. (You can also do this by hand.)

In a small saucepan, boil the lentils with water, salt and pepper until soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. 

In a Dutch oven or cast iron skillet, crumble the tempeh. Add the water, soy sauce and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté until lightly brown. Add the celery and mushrooms, and brown. Add the wine and simmer for five minutes. Drain the tempeh, reserving the liquid and discarding the bay leaf. Add the tempeh, carrots and parsnips to the pot, then add the herbs, salt and pepper. Add enough water or mushroom broth to the reserved liquid to make three cups. If you have no mushroom broth, add a cube of mushroom bullion. Whisk two tablespoons of flour into the broth. Add the liquid to the vegetable and tempeh, simmering until the mixture thickens slightly. 

In a small bowl, combine the lentils and flour, stirring until the lentils are coated. Whisk the egg and oil together, and then stir into the lentils. Press the lentil mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish. Cook the lentil crust in the oven for 10 minutes. 

While the crust is baking, shred the cheese. Remove the casserole from the oven and add the tempeh vegetable mix, followed by the cheddar cheese. Evenly spread the potatoes over the top of the casserole. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges of the casserole bubble and the potatoes brown slightly. 

Remove from the oven and let rest for five minutes before slicing and serving.