When I was a loinfruit, dinners followed a pretty predictable rhythm: Sunday night roast, Monday night reheated or cold slices of Sunday’s dead animal, Tuesday night Shepherd’s Pie, and so on through the week until Sunday’s roast came again. Later, whenever I could drag my teenage mind away from the distractions of girls, girls, girls, and oh…look….a pretty girl, I began to wonder why a dish made from ground up left over roast lamb under a bed of mashed spuds was called Shepherd’s Pie. I mean, isn’t the whole idea of being a shepherd meant to be that you look after the flock and bring them all back home where they can be slaughtered in the comfort of their own barn? Surely, I thought, you’re not meant to be tucking into a cheeky bit of lamb up on the mountaintop pasture. And furthermore, where did the shepherd get a spud masher? And furthermore….oooh look…a pretty girl.
And so it came to pass that many years later I turned my thoughts again to the question of making Shepherd’s Pie. Being much older and wiser now, with the cunning and sense of reason that comes with maturity, I realised that if the Shepherd had had the wisdom to bring along a spud masher, he or she would almost certainly have thought to bring along a few other little useful things too in the rucksack, so as to be able to whip up a lovely pie high on the mountain top pasture. Meanwhile, I resolved the quandary of why a shepherd would scoff into lambsie by deciding that instead, he’d save the lamb and eat kidney beans instead.
For the putting in:
- 400g cooked kidney beans
- Medium onion, chopped
- Few cloves garlic, crushed
- Large zuchinni, grated
- Large carrot, grated
- Medium stalk of celery, finely chopped
- 400g finely chopped tomatoes
- Tspn powdered cumin
- Tspn powdered mild paprika
- Tspn powdered cayenne pepper (or adjust heat to taste)
- Tbspn dried mixed Italian herbs
- Tspn chopped fresh rosemary
- 100ml stock
- 50ml red wine
- 50ml passata
- 500-750g potatoes
- 1/2 cup of soy milk
- Tbspn of leftover rice that you happened to have some of in the fridge
- Tbspn of pine nuts
For the doing:
- In a largish saucepan, lightly sauté the onion in a generous splash of olive oil
- Once the onions are clear, add the garlic and powdered spices. Continue sautéing briefly
- Add everything else in the main list of ingredients
- Simmer, covered, stirring regularly to avoid sticking.
- Once the liquid is well reduced place this mixture into a large oven proof baking dish (pyrex or similar), one that is wide and shallow rather than small and deep.
- Boil the potatoes and mash finely with a dash of olive oil, or vegan margarine
- Whizz up the soy milk, rice and pine nuts using a bamix (or similar inferior kitchen tool) until no lumps remain
Cover the layer of sauce in the baking dish with the mashed potatoes, then spoon the soy milk mix over the top and smooth it out evenly. Bake in the oven at 180c for 30 minutes. Serve with steamed veg’ or salad.
Today’s handy kitchen trick:
Getting an even layer of something like mashed potato over a layer of something saucy can be a right pain in the donkey. This helps; get a shallow tray that is almost the same size in area as the dish you have placed the sauce into. Put a sheet of baking paper into your tray, then layer the mashed potato onto it in an even layer. In a swift, graceful manner, invert the spud filled tray onto the sauce. Then peel the baking paper off the top and discard. This should result in a nice, smooth, even layer of mash on top of the saucy stuff. Using a spoon, gently do any minor repair work required.
P.S. Keen eyed readers will note the similarity between this dish and The Templar’s Mexican chilli beans. Three words my friends: Reuse, recycle, reduce.