Irish potluck and a Cottage Garden Pie
Once monthly I get the pleasure of going to a potluck with great friends. Many of the attendees, not unlike me, are into food. The rest are into eating food! So it’s a perfect match! Each month’s dinner has a theme. The theme is often chosen with the relevant season or holiday in mind. Since it is March, our host has been inspired by St. Patrick’s Day. I really enjoy the theme part of it all. It gives me parameters and inspiration all at the same time. I have been known to spend weeks planning and almost always go overboard with too much food!
After watching the RSVPs post, I quickly cross off the list Irish stew, soda bread, and colcannon. Just about anything with potatoes is accounted for by other attendees. There is no potato famine at our party. Trying to watch my budget and be mindful of a large vegetarian representation, I want to stay with veggies.
After a little bit of brainstorming I decided to make a vegan version of cottage pie.
Shepard’s pie is a widely known food tradition with its roots in the United Kingdom. It’s a staple on the other side of the pond. They make meat pies in many versions and always well. What is not as widely known is that Shepard’s pie is traditionally lamb based, as in Shepard’s herd sheep. Cottage pie is the more popular version made with ground beef. I have decided to make Garden Cottage Pie. This is, of course, something I have made up, an experiment if you will. Mine is a vegetarian/vegan version using tofu and mushrooms for the ground protein.
This garden pie is layered a cast iron and baked till golden and bubbly.
I actually make this in reverse. I cook the peas & carrots and set aside. Wipe pan. Then I boil & mash the potatoes & parsnips, set aside. Adding more oil to the pan, I make the bottom mushroom layer with gravy and layer it up from there.
For the bottom layer: Mushrooms and Tofu
the tofu pictured above has been drained and crumbled and will be squeezed once more in a towel.
- 1lb mushrooms, diced
- 1 leek, whites only diced
- 1Tbs dried thyme, or a few sprigs fresh
- 1Tbs ground cumin
- 2Tbs flour (gravy flour like Wondra is best but a.p. white will work)
- 10oz of firm tofu, drained, pressed, and crumbled
- 2Tb Braggs Liquid Amino Acids
- 2Tb black vinegar or Worcestershire
- 1/4-1c veggie broth
Cook mushrooms and leeks with olive oil until they are toothsome and saucy (this is a ‘you know it when you see it,’ the mushrooms have released yummy pan juices and have become al’dente).
Add seasonings: thyme, cumin, salt, pepper. Stir.
Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and stir well. Add tofu. Stir. Cook 2-3min
Add Braggs, Worcestershire and ¼ c veg broth, cook for 1-2 min, making a gravy. Adjust thickness with veggie broth.
For the 2nd layer: Peas and Carrots
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1/4c leeks, finely chopped, get this amount from either of the other two leeks in the recipe. Two large leeks should go into the whole pan.
- 1lb bag of frozen green peas, defrosted
- ¼ c roughly chopped parsley
Sauté carrots and leeks until soft, s/p.
Add defrosted peas and parsley, salt and pepper.
Stir to heat through
Spread evenly as the 2nd layer in the cast iron over the mushroom mixture
The 3rd layer: Parsnips, Potatoes and Leeks
- 3-4 potatoes, washed and roughly chopped, peeled if desired *I leave skins scrubbed and on for extra nutrients.
- 4 large parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 leek, thinly sliced whites, finely chopped light greens (until tops get tough)
- 1/4-3/4 cups veggie broth
- S/p (salt & pepper)
Begin by sautéing the leeks into 3Tb olive oil, cook till soft and golden
Boil parsnips and potatoes in water or broth until soft, drain.
Mash together with wooden spoon adding veg broth and seasoning with salt and pepper.
Fold in golden leeks and oil
Spoon mash over the 2nd layer, topping off the pie.
Bake in a 375 degree oven till potatoes are golden and gravy bubbles up around the sides. Serve warm.
I somehow forgot to take the all important finishing picture. Imagine a tender golden potato crust, toasted crispy edges along the cast iron, specked with leeks and a homestyle garnish of chopped parsley sprinkled on top. I think it was a hit! There was none left.
Having made it, small red or white beans could be used instead of soy for a less processed version. Tofu is what was in the cabinet, so tofu it was!