I have a few “comfort foods” that I love to make for myself that I ate as a kid. Mac N Cheese with tomatoes (only the shells kind with the creamy cheese packet), Broccoli/Cheese/Rice casserole, and Shepherd’s Pie to name a few. However, I was always sad I could not recreate the latter from my early childhood memory because I don’t eat ground beef and haven’t in years. I thought about making it without the meat, but that’s really just veggies and mashed potatoes…not really the same.
Then, a few years ago I discovered veggie crumbles. You’ve seen the veggie burgers; this is the veggie ground beef substitute. I wasn’t sure how good it would be, but I liked it. I pretty much could recreate a comfort food by converting the recipe from meat to the crumbles. Yet, I never wanted to try it out on a true meat-lover for fear they would (even if only out of meat-snobbery or anti-veggie tendencies) turn their nose up at it and chastise me for attempting such blasphemy. Recently, I got really brave and attempted such a feat with results. I have converted a carnivore to my meatless Shepherd’s Pie. And from what I can tell they weren’t just being nice about it, they genuinely liked it.* Therefore, I call this my:
(Conversion) Shepherd’s Pie
1 packet of frozen meatless/veggie crumbles (enough for equivalent of 1lb of ground beef)
1 12-14oz of frozen mixed vegetables (must be mix of: peas, green beans, corn, diced carrots)
soy sauce or Worcestershire Sauce to taste
mashed potatoes (I prefer the container of already made mashed potatoes that you microwave, but you can make your own or use a mix)
Preheat oven to 350.
Heat oil and garlic in frying pan. Cook veggies and crumbles in pan. (Usually I cook the veggies first, then add the crumbles, but I have also cooked the crumbles in the pan and the veggies in the microwave and mixed them together at the end). Once both veggies and crumbles are in the pan and no longer frozen, add soy sauce to taste and “brown it up” some more. You can also add Worcestershire Sauce too, but it gives it a sweeter taste.
Cook mashed potatoes separately. (I like to use margarine in the cooking process to give it a buttery flavor.)
Grease a casserole dish (about 1.5 – 2.5 qt dish will be fine, or a 8×8 or 9×9 dish will work in a pinch) with any kind of baking spray or your favorite method.
Add the veggies/crumbles mixture to the bottom of the pan. Then you can add a layer of cheese. (Here I really prefer velveeta or nothing at all, because it’s so creamy and doesn’t change the flavors too much. Just a couple slices here and there will do.) Then top with the mashed potatoes, smoothing out over the mixture and covering to the edges. I like to add a few pats of margarine to the top so they melt into the potatoes.
Bake on 350 for about 25-30 minutes and serve.
* Sure they may like it more with real meat, but they don’t hate the meatless crumbles either.