My vegetarian shepherds pie is a result of my family and I looking for ways to eat less meat and my re-vamping some of my classic recipes that use mince beef with a product called Quorn. The main ingredient in meat free Quorn is mycoprotein, a lower fat source of protein. It contains no cholesterol, but is a good source of fibre and essential amino acids. It’s one of those proteins that takes on the flavour of the foods you cook it with, so it works really well in dishes like Spaghetti Bolognese, Shepherd’s Pie, Chilli and Lasagna.
Quorn does have a slightly different texture to ground beef, but in terms of taste, no one seems to notice the difference. I’m not going to stop making our favourite recipes with meat, but from time to time, I will use Quorn in order to help us reduce the amount of meat in our diet. If you would like to try using Quorn, or other meat substitute in Shepherd’s Pie, this recipe is a great one to start with.
To serve about four people you need:-
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 – 350 gram (12 ounce) package of Quorn mince
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped (optional)
½ cup frozen peas (optional)
½ cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
about an eighth of a teaspoon of pepper
1 bay leaf
For the mash:-
2 to 3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into about four pieces each
2 to 3 parsnips, peeled and chopped (optional, add a couple more potatoes if you don’t use them)
generous tablespoon of butter
about ¼ cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375℉ or about 170℃. You’ll need an oven safe casserole dish to bake this mixture in. The shape doesn’t matter all that much, but it needs to be fairly deep.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and gently fry the onion until it just begins to soften, but not brown. Stir in the red pepper, if using. Stir in the carrots, vegetable stock, tomato paste, pepper and the bay leaf. Cover and simmer over low heat for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the Quorn, and stir through. Leave to simmer.
Meanwhile, cook the potatoes and parsnips (if using) in boiling salted water until they are soft enough to mash. Drain and mash with the butter and milk. You may need a little more or less milk depending on the texture of the vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the bay leaf from the simmering Quorn mixture and add the frozen peas (if using). Cook for five more minutes, or until the peas are done. Transfer the mixture to an oven safe casserole.
Carefully, a spoonful at a time, begin to cover the mixture with the mashed potatoes and parsnips. You need to be careful the spoonfuls are not too large or they will sink into the mixture.
When the Quorn mixture is completely covered in mashed potatoes, run over the top with a fork. This also gives little peaks and troughs which brown up nicely.
You may want to put the casserole dish on a baking sheet as the filling mixture sometimes bubbles through the potato topping when the Shepherd’s Pie is cooking and can mess up the bottom of your oven.
Bake in the oven for about half an hour, until the topping is beginning to turn golden brown. The edges usually get toasty and the vegetable and gravy mixture will definitely try to bubble through, but what this dish lacks in beauty it makes up for in taste!