Vegetarian shepherd's pie for St. Patrick's day

We are all a wee bit Irish on St. Patrick's Day and a great money-saving dish to make is shepherd's pie. Shepherd's pie is a classic Irish meal that includes simple ingredients like potatoes, carrots and peas, most of which you already have in your pantry or refrigerator. It's a savory, filling meal that will feed your whole family, with leftovers.

It's also an easy dish to convert to vegetarian or vegan by replacing the traditional ground meat or lamb for either soy meatless ground or crushed tomatoes. The recipe usually calls for thyme and sage, but a great alternative is a shepherd's pie seasoning mix that you can find in most English and Irish markets (like Tudor House or Ye Olde King's Head in Santa Monica). The seasoning mix really makes a difference in taste and smell, especially when you choose to cook this dish vegetarian.

  • 1 1/2 pounds of soy meatless ground (Boca or Yves work best)
  • 1 large onion - chopped
  • 1/2 cup of carrots - chopped
  • 1 cup of peas (can also use corn or both. just use 1/2 cup of each)
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 1/2 cup of cream or milk (for mashed potatoes)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of parsley
  • Salt and pepper - for taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sage
    OR
  • 1 package of shepherd's pie seasoning mix

First preheat the oven to 400 degrees and wash and peel the potatoes. Cut them into quarters and boil in salted water (around a 1/2 tablespoon) until soft - around 20 to 25 minutes. While the potatoes are cooking, you can melt a 1/2 stick of butter in a large skillet or frying pan. Put the onions in the pan and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Next, add your carrots because they will need more cooking time than your meatless ground, peas or corn - even if you choose to use frozen peas or corn. Cook carrots until they are tender, another 10 minutes or so, and then add meatless ground, peas and/or corn. Add the Worcestershire sauce and vegetable broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for about 15 minutes - add more vegetable broth if necessary to keep moist.

While your meatless ground and veggies are cooking, mash your potatoes in a bowl with the rest of the butter and the cream or milk - you can also use an electric mixer to make them them extra creamy. Once the meatless ground is cooked, place the mixture on the bottom of a casserole or baking dish and the mashed potatoes on top. Try to rough up the mashed potatoes with a fork so they make peaks that crisp up. Cook the dish for 30 minutes - or until potatoes are crisp on top. *If you don't want a vegetarian dish, you can replace meatless ground with real ground meat or lamb and switch beef broth for the vegetable broth.