Vegetarian Shepherds Pie
Meat-Free Savoury Soya Mince Shepherds Pie Recipe
This is my vegetarian variation on a very traditional British dish using soya mince and other nutritional ingredients from the kitchen to make a meat-free shepherds pie. As a vegetarian Im always been keen to try various soya mixes and products to spice up the menu and make tasty wholesome meals. Some can be a bit bland and hard to work with others can be very tasty, even spicy offering quick meal preparation for a variety of dishes. All the packets have meal ideas and serving suggestions which are a useful guide for the novice. However, I like to take it a stage further and make a meal out of it by adding my own favourite ingredients and experimenting with taste, flavour, colour, texture and presentation using my wife as the guinea-pig; and if she gives her approval then I know Im onto a winner.
Below is my tasty recipe for this meat-free vegetarian shepherds pie with soya savoury mince as the base ingredient and lots of added nutritional ingredients commonly found in your kitchen cupboards and vegetable rack; also included is other useful and relevant information including my Handy Health Cooking Tips.
- 1 packet of soya meat-free savoury mince
- 1 pint (600 ml) of water
- 2 lbs. (900 grams) Potatoes
- 1 tin of chick peas (optional)
- 1 tin of mushy peas
- 1 tin of tomatoes
- 7 oz. (200 grams) Carrots
- 1 medium sized onion (finally chopped)
- 1 egg
- Butter or margarine to taste
- 2 tablespoons of English mustard
- Pinch of pepper to taste (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of Tomato Puree (optional)
- Wash and scrub the potatoes but don't peel them, just cut out any bad bits and any green skin.
- Put the potatoes into a saucepan of water and place on the stove, but don't add any salt. Then bring them to the boil and boil for 20 minutes or until soft right through e.g. test with a fork when you think they might be fully cooked.
- Once the potatoes are on put the meat-free soya savoury mince into a saucepan, add a pint of water and turn the hob on to bring to the boil, stirring frequently to ensure none of the ingredients stick to the bottom of the saucepan. Once the mince starts to boil turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Immediately after putting the mince on the hob open the tins of chick peas and mushy peas, quickly drain them of water, add these to the mince and stir in.
- Then open a tin of tomatoes and put that straight into the mince and stir in with the other ingredients; optionally also add a teaspoon of tomato puree.
- Taking the carrots, if they're frozen add them straight into the mince and stir in. If from a tin, drain them from the water before adding to the mince; and if using fresh carrots chop and dice into small slices and add to the mince. Alternatively, you could boil fresh carrots separately to save the vegetable stock for making vegetarian gravy to serve with the meal; adding the carrots to the mince once they're cooked and drained.
- Finally chop one medium sized onion and add this to the mince, by now the mince should be part way through the 15 minutes of simmering. The onion doesn't need cooking so it doesn't matter if you add this at the end just before you put the mince into casserole dishes.
- When the meat-free mince is ready (after 15 minutes of simmering) add a tablespoon of English mustard, stir into the mix and pour the meat-free savoury mince into two casserole dishes; one of which you'd places in the fridge (once cooled) for topping with mashed potato later in the week to make a second shepherds pie.
- Drain the potatoes, add an egg, a tablespoon of English Mustard and margarine (or butter) to taste; then mash the potatoes.
- Spoon the mashed potatoes over the top of the meat-free savoury mince in one of the casserole dishes and spread out evenly with the back of a fork.
- Place the casserole dish in a baking tray and place into the oven to cook at 200C (400F), Gas Mark 6, for 30 minutes.
- If you intend making vegetarian gravy, which takes about 20 minutes, start making it while the shepherds pie is in the oven. Otherwise just a few minutes before serving quickly heat-up some tinned peas to go with the shepherds pie.
Vegetarian Gravy Recipe - Make Your Own Vegetarian Gravy
Here’s the ideal addition to any meat-free vegetarian dish including optionally for making a vegetarian shepherd’s pie.
- Easy Vegetarian Gravy Recipe
Recipe for making Vegetarian Gravy
Visual step by step guide to make vegetarian shepherds pie - 10 simple steps to making a tasty meat-free vegetarian potato dishClick thumbnail to view full-size
Ingredients for Tasty Vegetarian Shepherds Pie
Wholesome and Natural Food Products
For this recipe I used a packet of soya based savoury mince made specifically for use in meat-free shepherd's pie and similar dishes. And sure enough on the back of the packet is a simple recipe for using it to make shepherd's pie, but the recipe only included 50g (2 oz.) of peas and 100g (4 oz.) carrots to the mince, topped with potatoes. Adding a few peas and carrots is not much of a recipe which would still be predominantly savoury soya mince with a dash of green and orange for looks but adding nothing to the flavour or texture.
Hence my own recipe with not just significantly more carrots and peas but the addition of other favourite ingredients, which on this occasion included onion, tinned tomato, chick peas and to taste a teaspoon of English mustard and squirt of tomato puree.
And for the mashed potato to top the savoury soya mince, making it a shepherds pie, as well as the usual knob of margarine I also include an egg and a spoonful of English mustard for taste.
The suggested recipe on the back of the savoury soya mince packet was to use just 50g of peas, whereas my small tin of mushy peas was 300g and the tin of chick peas 400g. So my quandary was should I use just half a tin of each throw the lot in; I decided on the latter and threw the lot in; as I did with the tinned tomatoes as they always make a good complementary addition to most potato pie dishes, especially when you use the whole tin.
As explained in 'Health Tips' further on in this article, salt is the one commonly used ingredient which I deliberately omitted from this dish, as I usually do with most of my recipes.
Preparation and Cooking
Multitasking and Timing
It helps if you can multitask in preparing the ingredients for this dish. Preparing and boiling the potatoes takes about 40 minutes; ten minutes preparation, five or ten minutes to bring the potatoes to the boil and 20 minutes boiling. Preparing and simmering the soya mince with all its added ingredients takes about 30 minutes, including ten minutes preparation, five minutes to bring to the boil (stirring all the time) and 15 minutes to simmer. So it's good timing to prepare the potatoes and get them on the stove to boil first and then prepare the other ingredients so that all being well the potatoes should be boiled and ready for mashing at about the same time as the soya mince with the added ingredients are ready to put into the casserole dish and be topped with the mashed potato.
Serve it Hot and Serve it With Peas
Serve hot and serve with gravy and peas is traditional and seems to be the best combination for shepherds pies, although provided the pie isn't too dry it still makes a tasty meal without the gravy and there's no reason why you can't try a few other vegetable to taste.
What happens if you haven't made any vegetarian gravy and on severing realise the shepherd's pie is on the dry side, which can occasionally happen during baking in the oven where the potatoes and other ingredients have absorbed the surplus moisture. A quick solution, rather than waste time making vegetarian gravy and delay serving the meal, is to quickly heat up a tin of tomatoes; it goes quite well with shepherds pie and peas and adds much needed moisture to the served dish if needed.
Alternately you may wish to be more traditional and include gravy with your dish by making vegetarian gravy while you're preparing and cooking the other ingredients for the shepherds pie; in which case, try the link below for idea.
Making More Than One Meal From the Ingredients
This is my recipe for making two vegetarian shepherds pies using a meat-free soya savoury mince as the base ingredient; one for now and one for popping in the fridge for another meal later in the week.
Each pie is sufficient for four servings, and used on its own one packet of meat-free savoury mince will make one shepherd’s pie. The reason I make two is that I use whole tins of vegetables so by the time I've added all my ingredients there's too much meat-free mince for one pie. Alternatively, you could use half the ingredients and use the remaining tinned vegetables for another meal later in the week, which would also mean that you might wish to use just half a packet of the meat-free savoury mince and keep the rest for another time.
The packet of soya meat-free savour mince, even with the sprinkling of peas and carrots added to the mix as suggested on the back, will only make enough savoury mince for one shepherd's pie. However, once you’ve added all the extra ingredients in my recipe version there's too much for one pie but just the right quantity for two; one to cook fresh and one to prepare for later in the week; alternatively you could freeze the vegetarian mince for a later date, although I haven't tried that myself yet.
If you don't serve it all at once you can keep the leftovers in the fridge and add to a scrap potato pie later in the week. You could also make sufficient mashed potatoes at the same time for both pies or just put the surplus vegetarian mince in the fridge and make fresh potatoes when required.
Each shepherd’s pie serves four so if you have a small appetite or a smaller family then there will be some pie leftover; unless you use smaller casserole dishes and make more than two pies or portion the surplus ingredients for freezing and later use. Alternatively, you could do what we do e.g. put any unused pie leftovers into the fridge for adding to other scraps to a potato scrap pie later in the week.
One for the Table and One for the Fridge or freezer
Alternative Soya Products
Finding the right product for your taste
The soya mix I used in this recipe was a meat free soya based savoury mince specifically for shepherds pies and similar recipes; and works a treat on its own, topped with potato to make shepherd's pie or as one of the base ingredients in a recipe to make vegetarian shepherd's pie.
Alternatively, if you don't have the meat-free savoury mince to hand then Beanfeast (a dried soya mince in savoury tomato and herb sauce) specific for making vegetarian Bolognese works just as well for making a version of shepherds pie, except with the added spicy herbs it makes it a little too spicy. Unlike the meat-free savoury mince you can't use the Beanfeast Bolognese on its own to make vegetarian shepherds pie, you will need to add lots of other ingredients such as carrots, peas and tinned tomatoes to tone down some of the spiciness, and use a vegetarian gravy stock rather than just water to alter the flavour further. Nevertheless, although quite spicy it does still make a very tasty and enjoyable potato pie.
In contrast I have from time to time tried using bland soya, 100% textured vegetable Protein with no added herbs or spices; and I'm not that keen on it. It doesn't matter what other ingredients, herbs and spices you add to your recipe using plain soya, it never seems to take on any colour, flavouring or texture from the added ingredients and still seems to stay bland in itself. So it's one soya product I use sparingly. If I didn't have any meat free savoury mince to hand to make a vegetarian shepherds pie I'd rather use the vegetarian spicy Beanfest Bolognese than bland soya.
In our kitchen cupboard is one product I haven't yet tried, although I'm looking forward to giving it a try. Namely a meat-free sausage mix made with 32% wheat flour, 27% soya and other added natural ingredients for flavouring, texture and colour. If it's anything like the vegetarian sausages I've had in pub lunches then it should be tasty.
I'm not so keen on Quorn products; I find they tend to be rather chewy and bland. Quorn developed in the mid-1980s being a mycroprotein product extracted from cell fungi after allowing them to gorge on waste material. However in the days before Quorn I remember our local supermarket used to sell a tasty vegetarian meat-free pie very similar to a ready-made steak pie in pastry but made with mycroprotein (one of the forerunners to Quorn). So although I'm not keen on Quorn products, I prefer the soya based products, as some of the forerunners to Quorn made with mycroprotein were tasty maybe in the future there will be scope to improve the Quorn product.
Health Cooking Tips
Flavour With Herbs, Spices and Natural Ingredients Rather Than Salt
It should go without saying that we have too much salt in our diets, mainly because food manufacturers add far too much salt in their processed foods, yet we still add loads of salt in cooking and even more on the table when it's served.
Therefore, I never add salt to any of my recipes when cooking a meal, only exceptionally for preservation purposes if making something to store for a long time such as homemade 'green tomato chutney'. And I never use salt to flavour food on the table, with the one exception of chips (French Fries if you're not British).
Adding salt isn't necessary for daily cooking; there are plenty of healthy alternatives for flavouring food, predominantly a wide range of herbs and spices which for example includes pepper, English mustard, mint and onion. And for anyone who doesn't like these spicy alternatives may be interested to know that English mustard and onion lose their own flavour in cooking but enhances the flavour of the other ingredients, making them particular effective in enhancing the flavour of potatoes and sauces.
Although tinned and frozen vegetables are ok, but if you can grow your own organic vegetables and use them fresh for cooking then that'll be all the better. The potatoes pictured in this article were dug-up fresh from my organic vegetable garden just hours before I started to make the vegetarian shepherds pie featured in this recipe article. You may also notice in some of the photos that I boiled the potatoes with their skins, specifically because a lot of the goodness is just below the skin and the potato skins add much needed fibre (roughage) to the diet.
Tinned vegetables, such as the chick peas and mushy peas used in this recipe, are tinned in salty water so although some goodness from the vegetables (vitamins and minerals) will have diffused into the water, because of the salt content rather than using the water in the tin it's far healthier to drain these vegetables and to use fresh water instead for your recipes.
Quorn or Soya
In preparing a vegetarian dish at home, buying ready-made meals from the supermarket or when ordering a meal in a restaurant is your preference for a Quorn based dish or a vegetarian dish made with Soya?