It's that time of year again where vegans who come from omnivore families will inevitably have to answer the "where do you get your protein" question, get made fun of for eating like a rabbit, and explain that "no, you really don't miss meat". Yes it's true, the holiday season is quickly approaching.
When I first went vegan it was in the month of December, so I had just a few weeks of vegan experience before I had to face my entire family at Christmas dinner. I was confronted with all of these questions and jokes and unfortunately wasn't very informed. I desperately tried to recall facts, and bumble my way through answers. I wasn't confident and I highly doubt I was at all inspiring. Le sigh...
Fast forward three years and I am happy to say the holiday season will be amazing! Not only is my fam jam used to me being vegan, but I have since recruited awesome family members to the veggie side (hi awesome cousins!) and I have long since figured out how to answer these questions with more information and enthusiasm than any curious individual could possibly handle. Did someone say vegan!?
Whether you are lucky enough to be in a vegan family or not, we all gotta eat. Last year I posted my recipe for Puff Pastry Wrapped Lentil Loaf, which makes a spectacular main dish for the holidays. Hello gorgeous braided dough!
This year, I wanted to give you something a little easier to whip up, but no less delicious or beautiful. Welcome to my Pumpkin & Lentil Shepherd's Pie. That's right, I took Shepherd's Pie and went all fancy pants with it. The bottom layer is a hearty mix of lentils, mushrooms, carrots, and sun-dried tomatoes, and the top layer is garlic mashed pumpkin with maple syrup! Move over potatoes, pumpkin is the new kid in town.
This recipe comes together ridiculously easy and quickly. You can choose to use canned lentils and canned pumpkin so you can whip this dish up in no time, or if you are feeling like really going for it, feel free to cook the pumpkin and lentils from scratch first.
Either way this dish comes out hearty, flavourful, festive, and totally photogenic. Serve this with any combo of traditional vegan side dishes, and you will win the bellies of vegans and omnivores alike.
To make this glorious dish, chop the carrots, onions, slice the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes, and finely mince the garlic.
In a large pan sauté the onions and carrots until they start to get tender, about 5 minutes.
Add in the mushrooms and continue to cook until they have decreased in size, about another 5 minutes. Now add the sun-dried tomatoes and garlic and sauté one minute more. So colourful!
Stir in the lentils, vegetable broth, and spices and heat through.
Make the pumpkin mash by melting vegan butter in a pot, and then sauté the minced garlic for a minute until soft and fragrant. Add the mashed pumpkin, maple syrup, salt, and heat through.
Spread the lentil mixture in a casserole dish.
Top with the pumpkin mash and pop it in the oven, to heat it through.
In the meantime toast the pumpkin seeds in a small pan, by putting them over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until the pumpkin seeds brown and start to pop. When the Shepherd's pie is hot all the way through, remove from the oven, sprinkle the pumpkin seeds across the top and serve hot.
Pumpkin & Lentil Shepherd's Pie
For the lentil layer:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion,, chopped
- 2 carrots,, peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic,, minced
- 8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 19oz cans lentils (or 4 cups cooked), drained and rinsed
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes,, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat your oven to 425F (220C).
- To make the Lentil Layer: in a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic and sauté until the onions turn translucent and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms decrease in size, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lentils, vegetable broth, sun-dried tomatoes and all the spices. Heat through until everything is hot and bubbling, about another 5 minutes.
- To make the Pumpkin Layer: melt the vegan butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute until soft and fragrant. Add the pumpkin, maple syrup and salt, stir to combine and health through.
- To assemble the Shepherd's Pie: Spread the lentil mixture on the bottom of an oven-safe casserole dish. Pour over the pumpkin mixture on top and spread evenly. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until the Shepherd's pie is heated through. Garnish with the toasted pumpkin seeds before serving.