Hearty Vegetarian “Shepherd’s” Pie

This shepherd’s pie gets its heartiness from the mushrooms and its richness from the red wine and butter. Use the vegetable broth version to make it creamier. It is full-bodied comfort food, and guaranteed to satisfy even the pickiest carnivores. Serve with a full-bodied red wine or your favorite stout. Serves 6-8.

Ingredients:
7 medium-sized red potatoes
1 whole package Gimme Lean! faux beef (or other crumble-style), browned (optional)
1 red or yellow onion
3 large portabella mushrooms, sliced (stems removed)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas, or sliced carrots
3-6 cloves of garlic (depending on mashed potato recipe used)
3 Tablespoons real butter
1.5 cups red wine*
1.5 cups vegetable broth (water can be substituted. See above.)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 Tablespoon flour
1 Tablespoon finely grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Preparations:
1) Use the potatoes to make your favorite mashed potato recipe. Adding fresh roasted garlic adds a little something to the dish, but is optional. As a time saver, consider making the mashed potatoes ahead of time and thinning them with milk (if necessary) when it is time to use them in the recipe.

2) Over medium heat, in a 4-quart saucepan caramelize the onions. Lower the temperature, add the garlic, and stir for about 1 minute. Add the butter and mushrooms, and cook for approximately 3-5 minutes, or until the butter is completely melted and the mushrooms are thoroughly covered. Pour the wine and the vegetable broth into the mixture. If adding the faux beef, stir it into the mixture at this point. Last, add the tomato paste and the flour. Simmer over medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes or until sauce reduces and thickens. Stir in the basil, sage and peas, and remove from heat.

3) Using your fingers, press a portion of the mashed potato mixture into the bottom—and up the sides—of an 8×12 inch glass baking dish (or into 6 smaller individual baking dishes). Spoon the mushroom mixture into the baking dish(es). Carefully cover the top(s) of the dish(es) with the remaining mashed potatoes, and sprinkle the top with the grated cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the the top(s) begin to brown.

Serve with a hearty red wine. There should be enough left from the bottle used for the recipe for at least 2 glasses with dinner. Reheat the rest later if need be, it stores well.

* We used Our Daily Red the first time we made this recipe and we were happy with the choice. Our Daily Red is an organic red wine with no sulfites. It is a blend of Fresno Syrah and Carignan and Mendocino Cabernet Sauvignon according to its makers.