When I was 16 I got my first job. It was in the kitchen at a Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant in central Pennsylvania, and it introduced me to a lot of dishes I’d never eaten before. Some good (corn fritters) and some bad (hog maw). But one of my favorites was shepherd’s pie. The idea of using mashed potatoes as a sort of whipped cream that you top a bunch of other stuff with seemed so obvious, and yet I’d never experienced it. Once I did, though, I was hooked.
That was decades ago, and today I’m still a huge fan of the dish. But during the early years of my veganism I didn’t make it too often; I tried it here and there with some beef substitute crumbles. It wasn’t until the holidays this past December that I started to rethink it. I didn’t want to use any fake meat, so I went with an old recipe and used lentils instead. I didn’t want to use potatoes, either: As I’m getting older and trying harder to be healthy, I avoid starches and white carbs as much as I can. It occurred to me that cauliflower mash was the way to go, so I worked up a recipe for that. When I put this shepherd’s pie together I was in heaven! It wasn’t quite the way I remembered it from when I was younger…it was better! Which is a really great thing but also dangerous for me, because I could eat it all.
Enter these mini pies. Their size is perfect for an entrée or a snack, and they’re great at parties. Also, they’re supercute!
Give these little guys a try and let me know how you make out. I’m @nutfreevegan on social media and I’d love to see some photos!
Mini Shepherd's Pies with Cauliflower Mash
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium-sized carrot chopped
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups brown lentils
- 2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp. tomato paste
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tsp. rosemary chopped
- 1 tsp. thyme chopped
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- ½ cup frozen corn
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 1 batch Rosemary and Garlic Cauliflower Mash
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Heat olive oil over low-medium heat in large saucepan or Dutch oven; add carrot and onion. Cook until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add garlic and stir. Cook for another minute.
- Add lentils and flour, stir to mix and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in tomato paste, vegetable broth, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper.
- Turn heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to simmer; add corn and peas.
- Cook until lentils are soft, about 10 minutes
- Distribute mixture evenly into ramekins (about 6), leaving 1 inch at top.
- Top with Rosemary and Garlic Cauliflower Mash, put on baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until tops of pies begin to brown.