My husband and I recently returned from a trip to Ireland, a place I have wanted to visit for a very long time, and my first European adventure. Traveling is often a challenge to healthy eating, especially when you add the word “vegan” to the criteria. Ireland was no exception, and in fact, we really had to go out of our way to find the healthiest options available during our time in Dublin, Cork, Killarney and Galway. Shepherd’s Pie seems to be a mainstay in this part of the world, but we weren’t lucky enough to see any vegan versions of this almost completely plant based dish on any of the menus in any of the restaurants we dined in. By the time we got home, I was really craving a Shepherd’s Pie, so I decided to try this version of “Tempeh and Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie” (page 304). While even a further departure from traditional Shepherd’s Pie, with sweet potatoes used as the topping, it was very delicious and really satisfied my craving.
This dish can take some time to prepare, so plan ahead, and as the recipe notes suggest, everything can be assembled ahead of time at your leisure, then popped in the oven to bake when you are ready to eat. The recipe also suggests using seitan, veggie burgers, or vegetarian burger crumbles instead of the tempeh if you want, and depending on which option you use, there will be a degree of preparation time needed for that. I opted for seitan this time around, using the recipe from this book (see my review here). You will also need to prepare the Mushroom Sauce from this book (see my review for that here.) Then of course, the sweet potatoes have to be cooked and mashed. I spent a leisurely afternoon putting everything together and rather enjoyed being back in my kitchen after a couple of weeks away. I found the effort well worth it!
Onions, carrots, peas, and corn round out the rest of the pie filling, and with the bright orange topping of sweet potatoes, this makes a bright, beautiful, and colorful dish, not to mention delicious! I took my picture prior to baking it in order to show a “cut away” revealing all the pretty colors.
It is quite easy to omit the oil called for in this dish – see my notes below.
Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” checklist:
- Omit the margarine when mashing the sweet potatoes. I just used the soymilk called for, adding a little more as needed to achieve the correct level of moistness.
- Omit the oil when sautéing the vegetables and tempeh; for the veggies, use a nonstick skillet with a little water, sherry, or broth instead. If you are using tempeh, you can bake it or “dry fry” it in a skillet to crisp it up. You will not get the browning you would with oil, but as an ingredient inside a mix of moist ingredients, this becomes less of a standout.