Shepherd’s Pie


Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, everyone! Even though I have lots of Irish blood pumping through my veins, I’ve never really been terribly enthusiastic about celebrating this holiday; it’s not one I  connect with personally. I think this might have partly to do with the fact that I’m not too fond of dyed-green foods and beverages, nor am I crazy about potatoes. I know this is exceptionally weird. I just think they’re boring and bland, and I particularly dislike the big, floury baking potatoes that seem to me to be the Irishiest of the Irish foods.

Sweet potatoes, though: there’s a concept I can get behind. Did you know that sweet potatoes make you prettier? It’s been proven by peer-reviewed science that eating foods with lots of carotenoids makes you better looking; you can read the study here. As you may have gathered, the word “carotenoid” comes from the word “carrot,” but sweet potatoes also have lots of carotenoids, and as they top a gravy made with carrots here, this dish becomes a ride on a gravy train to babesville!

So, feel free to eat an extra serving of this hearty, wholesome, stick-to-your bones dish. The oyster mushrooms provide a rich, savory flavor, while the bulgur wheat provides that ingredient so often missing from vegan dishes: the chewy thing you need between the gravy and the veggies.



  • 2 very large sweet potatoes, or about 4 cups mashed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp Earth Balance, plus more for greasing
  • 1 medium or 1/2 large onion, or about 2 cups diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced, about 1 cup
  • 4 stalks celery, diced, about 1 cup
  • 4 medium oyster mushrooms, cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • scant 1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup marsala or dry red wine
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper to taste



  1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Wash the sweet potatoes and poke all over with a fork, then wrap in aluminum foil and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 60-90 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes, or until they’re soft all the way through. Set aside until they are cool enough to handle easily. You can do this part a day or two in advance.
  2. To make the gravy, heat the Earth Balance in a large pot with a lid over medium-low heat.
  3. Make the mirepoix: add the onion to the pot, cover, and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add the carrot and celery, cover and sauté for about 10 minutes without lifting the lid.
  4. Now, add the mushrooms and stir to combine. Add a good pinch of salt and some pepper and then the garlic and mustard powder. Stir, uncovered, for a minute or two, until you can smell the garlic, then add the thyme.
  5. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies. Stir for a couple minutes, until the mixture thickens. Under no circumstances should you turn your back on the pot at this point. Heat should still be at medium-low, in case you’re wondering 🙂
  6. When the mixture is just barely starting to stick to the bottom of the pan, add the wine and turn up the heat to high. Stir with a wooden spoon as the wine evaporates.
  7. With the heat still on high, add the broth, nooch, and bulgur wheat. Stir to combine.
  8. Let the gravy come to a slow boil and let cook for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. It should reduce in volume and thicken up some.
  9. After 10 minutes, turn the heat back down to low and simmer, still uncovered.
  10. Now, make the mashed sweet potatoes. They should be very soft, so that you can tear the potatoes in half and can slip the potatoes’ skins off the flesh with minimal effort.
  11. Put the sweet potato flesh in a medium bowl and add the almond milk and some salt and pepper, then stir to mash. You can also add a little more Earth Balance if you like!
  12. When you’re ready to assemble, preheat the oven to 350º if it isn’t already on. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan (or similarly sized casserole dish) with Earth Balance, then ladle all the gravy into it. Then, top with the mashed sweet potatoes, and even out the top with the back of a spoon.
  13. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for 10 more minutes uncovered.
  14. Let rest for 10 minutes on a cooling rack, then cut into squares and serve!


I plated this with cauliflower and kale salad to make the Irish flag (aww!). If you want to serve with sides, you can pretty easily make them while the pie is baking and still have time to clean up before you sit down to dinner.



1 Comment

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One response to “Shepherd’s Pie

  1. Tonight I tried the kale/tomato/cannelli bean dish – quite a stretch for me. Having grown up in the ’50’s in the deep South, I was unfamiliar with many of the ingredients. (Evolution is SLOW and hard.) I don’t think I ate kale until i was 55 years old. Anyway, so this was really scary for me and at first glance it looked kinda, well, gloppy, which tends to gross me out. But bravely I forged ahead, paired this with a baked sweet potato, and was pleased with the taste and surprised that I liked it. Victory! A small one, but a victory none the less. Thank you for the lovely blog.

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