This dish was just a lot in all the ways that it could be but I’ll get to that. I used to live in DC and felt my empathy justifying some very blizzard appropriate food.
There were a lot of contenders but ultimately this Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie won.
This is a pretty aggressive recipe with a lot of parts but all the steps are very simple, many you can do in advance (see notes).
Ultimately you have a layer of sautéed veggies mixed with lentils and a herby/pine nut/breadcrumb mixture, topped with spaghetti squash and finished off with some goat cheese mashed potatoes. Hello winter comfort food.
I felt like I was preparing for the end of the world at the store… as I piled my cart high with nine cups worth of mushrooms I could sense fellow customers staring…wondering if I knew we Midwesterners were not expecting a colossal snow storm.
I kept telling myself I was simply following the recipe I found on the Cooking Channel website. I didn’t question where all this food I was prepping would end up… an entire spaghetti squash… over a head of garlic…two cups of soaked bread crumbs… I just enjoyed prepping the various components and assumed all was normal.
I happily started loading up my 8X11 baking dish per the recipes instructions…just one 8X11 baking dish as specified… only to realize I had enough ingredients for an entire other baking dish. So… I’ll be eating shepherd’s pie for the next two months. Call me when it’s spring.
- 1 spaghetti squash (smaller is better)
- 1 entire head garlic plus 4 cloves
- Olive oil
- 2 cups bread crumbs (I used whole wheat)
- 2 cups milk, divided (I used 2%)
- 0.25 cup roasted pine nuts
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1.5 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (more for garnish if you want)
- 1.5 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed clean
- 0.25 cup melted butter
- 0.5 cup goat cheese
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 9 cups sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup dried lentils, cooked according to package instruction
- If your carrot/celery/onion size vary keep in mind you are looking for equal parts of all three.
- This made a comical amount of shepherd’s pie. Unless you plan on freezing an entire casseroles worth of this dish I would halve the recipe.
- You can cook the lentils and squash well in advance and use them when the time comes.
- I bought pre-sliced mushrooms and felt really good about it.
- You don’t really have to peel your potatoes unless you see some tough parts. When you’re mashing if large pieces of skin come off feel free to discard them.
- A good time to prep your veggies and cook your lentils is while your squash is cooking.
To Make (two casserole dishes worth of shepherd’s pie, enough to feed your entire condo building):
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Split spaghetti squash in half. Rub olive oil all over squash (skin and cut side). Season flesh with salt/pep. Place cut side down on parchment lined baking sheet and roast for one hour.
- Slice the top of your head of garlic off exposing the cloves. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil over the cloves. Wrap garlic head in aluminum foil and roast for 25-30 minutes in the 450 degree oven.
- Remove squash and garlic from oven. Remove the spaghetti squash with a fork and place in a bowl. Season to taste with salt/pep. Squeeze the garlic cloves into a small bowl and mash with a fork.
- Peel off any rough textured parts of your potatoes. Slice potatoes in half (larger ones can be quarters). Place potatoes in large pot and fill with cold water until they are just covered. Cook over medium high heat until you have a gentle boil. Once boiling, aggressively season with salt, cover and let cook for 20 minutes until they slide off a knife easily.
- Drain potatoes and mash. Add mashed garlic, 1 cup of milk, melted butter and goat cheese. Season to taste with salt/pep.
- Combine breadcrumbs with remaining one cup milk in a medium size bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in thyme, parsley, eggs and pine nuts.
- Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté onions, carrots and celery for five minutes. Season with salt/pep. Add mushrooms and garlic and sauté for an additional ten minutes. Remove from heat. Add breadcrumb mixture and lentils and stir to combine.
- Grease two casserole dishes (I used one 9X13 and one 8X11).
- Now you layer. First, a layer of the veggie/breadcrumb/lentil mixture. Next a thin layer of spaghetti squash. Finally, a nice layer of the mashed potatoes.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
Inspired by CookingChannel