Vegan Shepard’s Pie

In college, I studied abroad in Ireland and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I talked about my time there so much that when I got married, my husband wanted to go too! So, I found myself back in Ireland for the second time, but this time, I was vegan. We found some great places and definitely did not go hungry.

For this Saint Patrick’s Day, I wanted to take us back to our honeymoon, and to Ireland. I love hearty dishes like this that are great right out of the oven and even better as leftovers.

Don’t skip the step of making the mashed potatoes from scratch, literally just as easy as the boxed stuff but a million times better!

I always top my Shepard’s pie with way too much gravy. I actually found a powdered brown gravy in my local Irish goods shop; it’s perfect. I add mushrooms and some liquid smoke and it’s delish!

Vegan Shepard’s Pie

  • 1 cup dried black lentils
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 8 ounce mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 can peas, drained
  • 4 russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 3 or 4 large pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup plant milk
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter
  1. Cook 1 cup lentils according to package directions, adding 1/2 yellow onion to the water for flavor while cooking.
  2. While lentils are cooking, add potatoes to large pot of water and bring to a boil. Boil until potatoes are fork tender. Drain the water. Use a potato masher to mash potatoes until smooth. Add in plant milk, salt, and 1 tbsp butter and continue mashing. It takes a couple minutes, but it’s worth it!
  3. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  4. In a large pan, heat 2 tbsp vegan butter until melted and sizzling. Add in carrots, 1/2 yellow onion, and celery with a pinch or two of salt. Saute until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes. Add in mushrooms and garlic. Saute until mushrooms cook down and start to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add in cooked lentils and can of peas. Turn off heat and stir through.
  5. In a large casserole dish, pour the vegetables and spread evenly in dish. Add the mashed potatoes on top of the vegetables, using a large spoon or spatula to spread in an even layer on top. Use a fork to create a design on top of the potatoes.
  6. Place the casserole dish in the oven for 20 minutes. Then, turn the broiler on and broil for 8-10 minutes, or until the mashed potatoes brown on top. Serve with your favorite vegan gravy!

Pantry Tomato Soup

Some nights coming home to cook a meal sounds like the absolute worst. And I really love to cook. But those kinder kids really wear me out and sometimes I come home just exhausted. So nights like tonight, I make a simple, but totally satisfying and comforting meal.

Odds are, you probably have these ingredients in your pantry already. If not, this soup costs about $3 to make, so pick up these items next time you head to the grocery and you’ll have a quick crowd-pleasing dinner.

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Grilled cheese is the obvious choice to pair with this soup- and I’ve got a trick for that. I love to make grilled cheese, but I burn them every time I try to make them. I just get too distracted and it never turns out the way I imagine it will. But, I have discovered a way that makes it not only easier but also way less hands on to make grilled cheese, so you can make a whole bunch all at the same time. I use a tasty bread sliced on the thicker side, I stuff it with some homemade vegan cheese (or a store bought vegan shred), and then smear both sides of the sandwich with vegan mayo (instead of butter, just trust me on this one!). I bake in a oven preheated to 450F for 6-7 minutes, then flip and continue baking for another 6-7 minutes, until golden brown. Once done, turn off the oven, and leave in the warm oven until ready to serve!

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Pantry Tomato Soup, serves 4-6

  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomato 
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or water 
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  •  salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 ounces coconut milk (about half a can) 
  1. Chop the onion and garlic and add to a large pot with a pinch of salt. Saute on medium high in a large pot until slightly browned, stirring often.
  2. Add a splash of the vegetable broth and stir to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Add in the remaining broth and the cans of crushed tomatoes. Turn heat down to medium, add in basil, salt, and pepper and allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until heated through.
  3. Use an immersion blender to create a smooth soup consistency. Alternatively, you can add to a blender and blitz for a few minutes and then pour back into the pot. Add in the coconut milk and stir. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

It’s freezing and below zero across most of the country today, so I needed a dinner that was going to warm us up! It also helped that I had a snow day today!

Snow days are just as exciting for teachers as you remember they were when you were a kid. Except, maybe even more because coffee and daytime TV! This meal reminds me of a meal my mom used to make too, so it was definitely appropriate for a snow day.

Stuffed cabbages are easy, tasty, and with the addition of tempeh, so filling too. It does take a minute to get it all set up and ready to go, but I list some tricks to make it a little faster and easier throughout the process.

However, if you are short on time, or just a little lazy (that’s okay!) there’s a great shortcut to this meal. Skip steaming the cabbage leaves and finely chop the cabbage instead. Add the cabbage to the pot when you add the onion, then following the recipe as stated. Put the entire mixture into the baking pan, pouring the tomato sauce all over the pan before baking. Call it a “stuffed” cabbage casserole!

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls, 4 servings

  • 1 large green head cabbage
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 1 package tempeh 
  • 2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomato, no salt added, drained 
  • 3 cups cooked barley
  • 3 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 large can (28 ounce) crushed tomato 
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar 
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Carefully remove the largest layers of cabbage leaves in whole pieces, I got 9 from my 3-ish pound head of cabbage. Steam the leaves in a large covered pot with a steamer rack for about 10 minutes. When the leaves are soft, remove and use the same steamer pot and rack to steam the tempeh for 10 minutes. Steaming tempeh allows flavors to soak in better later in the recipe. Remove tempeh, allow to cool for a minute or two, and chop finely.
  2. Saute onion with a little water over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tempeh, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, coriander, allspice, cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Stir and saute for an additional 2 minutes. Add in the drained diced tomatoes, stir, and turn off heat.
  3. Mix together tempeh mixture and barley in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
  4. Place all of the cabbage leaves on flat area with rib side down. I put all the cabbage leaves out at one time so I can get an equal amount of filling in each one without wasting any of that delicious filling. Fill the cabbage leaves with an equal amount (about 1/3 cup) of filling in each one. Roll up each leaf around the stuffing, tucking in the sides as you roll. I don’t stress about perfection here, this is a dish best served a little messy, so just go for it! Place the stuffed cabbage rolls into a glass baking pan, seam side down. Repeat the process until all leaves are stuffed and rolled.
  5. In a bowl, mix the crushed tomatoes, brown sugar, and cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Pour tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls. Cook for an hour, or until soft and tender. Serve immediately.