Friday, May 9, 2014

Grandma's Kitchenware & Vegan Shepherd's Pie

My grandma no longer lives at home and I recently had the opportunity to select a few special items from her kitchen. I found the most colorful and retro casserole pan and a stainless steel gravy boat that inspired us to make a shepherd's pie with gravy. It was so wonderful to use some previously loved kitchen tools that each had a history of serving up food for my grandparents and their guests. I am so proud to give these tools a home in my kitchen. It means so much...

Mark was inspired to make vegan gravy from Oh She Glows. The recipe was made with no adaptations, because Mark wanted to measure everything out perfectly. He said he wanted to know exactly how the recipe would taste the first time, and it was phenomenal! It was so good we will probably put it on everything in the future, including salads and dessert!

For the shepherd's pie, I wanted to find a vegan recipe that used spaghetti squash, because we'd had one taunting us on our counter for awhile, but I couldn't find a single recipe. So I cut the ends off of our huge spaghetti squash, split it down the middle, seeded it (saving the seeds to roast), and microwaved it until soft.

I'm going to try to recreate the recipe as much as possible... I actually didn't spice this up very much. The seasonings were very simple but it was really tasty, especially with the gravy.

To make the shepherd's pie filling, in a large electric steamer or rice cooker, cook:

1 cup Barley
1 cup Green and/or Yellow Split Peas (or mixture thereof)
3 1/4 cups Water

until soft (about 70 minutes or so).

Separately, split and seed:

1 Spaghetti Squash

and cook in the microwave until done.

Separately, saute:

1/2 large Red Onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
pinch of Salt
several grinds of Pepper
2 teaspoons crushed Herbs de Provence

with water until soft. Then add:

15 or so large Mushrooms
another pinch of Salt

and saute with red wine until mushrooms soften. Then stir in:

half of the cooked Spaghetti Squash
half of the cooked Barley Pea mixture

taste for seasonings, and adjust as needed. Evenly spread the shepherd's pie filling into the bottom of a casserole dish and sprinkle with a light covering of:

1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast

To make the shepherd's pie topping, boil (we still aren't sure which color potatoes are yams and which are sweet potatoes, but we used):

1 White Yam/Sweet Potato (That puppy was big! We got it from a friend)
1 Orange Yam/Sweet Potato 
3 Red Potatoes

until soft, then mash together with:

1/2 cup Non-Dairy Milk (soy, oat, almond, rice, coconut, etc.)
1 1/2 teaspoons of Homemade Vegan Butter (or olive oil, coconut oil, or some other vegan fat)
1 tablespoon Granulated Garlic Powder
pinch of Salt
several grinds of Multi-Colored Peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon crushed Herbs de Provence
1/2 cup Nutritional Yeast

using a potato masher. (This does not have to be perfectly smooth.)

Evenly spread the mashed potatoes on top of the barley mix. Cook at 350 degrees until warmed through, maybe 30-45 minutes. (I don't remember, but I can't imagine that I had this in longer than 45 minutes.)

While this was cooking Mark made the gravy and I cleaned up. We reserved the potato water to drink (it was super sweet!). For the gravy, we put all the ingredients into a wide mouth quart canning jar and used an immersion blender to blend/mix the ingredients together. Then we heated the gravy on the stove.

We ate out of these great pottery bowls, also from my grandma's house, and I poured a beer into one of my grandparent's cocktail glasses. It truly felt like a tribute to my grandma and grandpa and it was such a joy to continue using these well loved kitchen items.

The next day, Mark said, "Wow that dinner... You open the fridge and it smells so good in there!"

Verdict: Will we make it again? Yes.

First of all, we will make that gravy every single time we need to make gravy. Holy crow that was good, and super easy! Next time I would probably crush some fennel and maybe some dried chilies into the pie filling. The fennel gives food a meaty, savory, umami flavor. I also might shave a little nutmeg into the potato topping in the future. But the idea of shepherd's pie is a great vegan meal because you can add any grain and any vegetable combo for the filling.

Thanks to my grandparents!

Mark & Michelle

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