A yummy-in-your-tummy shepherd’s pie

My uni is very considerate, they’ll often schedule exams for Saturdays so that we don’t have to take days off work. Did you hear the sarcasm? So I had an exam yesterday afternoon and the plan was to go to uni in the morning with Ash (he has a full day of class each Saturday), study all day in the library, and do the exam.

On the way home from work on Friday we picked up a ton of fresh veggies, because I was planning on making dumpling noodle soup for dinner, then ricepaper rolls and a raw zucchini hummus with carrots etc to snack on while at uni. We ducked around the corner for a sneaky schooner before dinner. After a few, we decided to have dinner at the pub instead. A friend arrived and many schooners later, needless to say, I didn’t do any cooking.

I went to uni (late) carrying a shopping bag of baby spinach, an avocado, a punnet of strawberries and a carrot. It’s actually quite nice eating completely unadulterated raw food for a change. The exam didn’t go too badly, I think, and I attribute that to the day of raw vegetables – best hangover cure ever. And we got home to a fridge full of zucchinis, carrots, cauliflower and leftover mung beans.

For ages I’ve had in the back of my mind a plan to make a shepherd’s pie using pureed cauliflower instead of potato. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it, but if you steam cauliflower until quite tender, and puree in a food processor with salt, lemon juice and a spoonful of nutritional yeast, you get the most deliciously creamy, light, fluffy and tasty ‘mash’ (you probably could get away without the nooch but it is a tasty addition – loaded with B vitamins too). I don’t know about you, but I find mashed potato a bit stodgy. This has everything you would want from a good mashed spud without the heaviness.

So this is the pie. Hells yes I’ll be making it again! I don’t have kids yet, but I predict that when I do, it’ll be a ‘family favourite’. It’s very much a homely, familiar dinner which would appeal to even the most traditional palate.

Shepherd’s pie (would feed 4 people if served with a side, otherwise 3)

I usually wouldn’t say you must use a particular kitchen appliance, because in most cases a good cook can make do with what’s available without any detriment to flavour or quality of the dish. But in this case I do think it’s important to use a food processor for your cauliflower. The perfectly pureed texture makes it.

As with many of my recipes, this came together with what was in the fridge. I think mushrooms would be wonderful in the veggie mix, lentils would work well in place of the mung beans, and a diced onion would definitely work instead of the shallots.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup cooked mung beans
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 beef-flavoured stock cubes
  • 2 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, chopped
  • a desert-spoonful of nutritional/savoury yeast flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • A good few cracks of salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. In a casserole dish with a lid, mix zucchini, carrot, shallots, garlic, beans, tomato, soy sauce, crumbled stock cubes, mixed herbs and 1/2 cup of water. Cover and bake for 30 minutes or until the carrots are tender and the water has evaporated (you might leave the lid off for 10 minutes at the end if it’s looking too sloppy – mine was a bit that way).
  2. Steam cauliflower until quite tender.
  3. Puree cauliflower in a food processor with nutritional yeast, lemon juice and salt, until completely smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning until it’s amazing.
  4. When the veggies are done, carefully spoon dollops of cauliflower over them and spread with the back of a spoon. Pop back in the oven, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden on top.
  5. Serve either straight up or with a side of some other veggie – maybe grilled asparagus or broccolini.

p.s. The theme this week is Chinese food! Dinner on Friday night included these amazing Chinese beans with dried olives. That inspired me to finally make use of my Women’s Weekly Chinese cookbook that I picked up from a second-hand book warehouse. Tonight we made the beans and chow mein from the book, and later this week I’ll be sharing my very own version of san choy bow.

p.p.s. How cute are these mugs! We bought them a while ago from Paddington markets, they’ve got little strips of blackboard paint. Ash took these photos when he drew on them and made us tea – I just had to share.

A mo' for the man 🙂

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