Vegan Lentil Shepherds Pie with "Cheesy" Miso Gravy

Recipe serves roughly 6, perfect for a small family or a meal that can be saved and eaten for the week, or potentially freezing half unbaked for a future meal. 

Ingredients for mashed veg topping:

1 large roughly chopped cauliflower (about 2-3 cups)
1 large chopped turnip (about 1.5 cups)
1 large chopped yam (about 1.5 cups)
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp grass fed butter, coconut oil or another butter alternative
Optional: 1/4 cup of chopped fresh dill
*alternatively you could use just mashed potatoes for a traditional flavor or just yams. I love the lightness of the cauliflower and turnips are my favorite root vegetable so this is what I came up with, it is also much lower in carbohydrates than potatoes and yams and provides a more diverse profile of vitamins  

Ingredients for Veg and Lentil "ground beef"
3-4 tbsp avocado or coconut oil for frying
1 large cooking onion finely diced
1 large carrot chopped small
1 cup chopped mushrooms such as portobello, white or brown button
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme or 1 tbsp dried thyme or a dried herb blend
4 + garlic cloves finely minced, I use a mini cheese grater for this ;)
sea salt & pepper to taste
1 c brown or green lentils (soaked over night in water and drained) alternatively you could use 2.5 cups canned, cooked lentils
3 c low sodium vegetable broth or bone broth if you have it, reduce to 3/4 cup if you are using cooked/ canned lentils, this may require adding salt or condensing your broth
1 cup thawed green peas
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

Miso Gravy Ingredients:
1 cup of vegetable water (left over from your boiled vegetables)
2 - 4 tbsp miso paste (chickpea miso can be used for soy allergies)
1/2 c nutritional yeast (this is the secret "cheesy" flavor behind this gravy)
1-3 raw cloves of garlic
1/4 c chopped shallots or white onion
fresh pepper to taste
1 tbsp flour to thicken if necessary (buckwheat is a great gluten free option)  
Optional: add another 1/2 -1 tsp of bullion for a stronger salty flavor

Garnish/Toppings for Serving:
1/2 cup chopped fresh green onions and or fresh parsley

1. Begin by simmering your veggie mash veggies, pot root vegetables in a large pot with a lid and cauliflower on the top if using, pour 2.5 cups + water on top of the vegetables and simmer over medium- low heat while you move onto preparing your lentil filling

2. Heat avocado oil in a large skillet and begin to saute' onions, carrots, herbs and mushrooms until onions are close to translucent and carrots are about half tender, stir in garlic and saute' for another minute

3. Stir in lentils, broth and season with salt and pepper, simmer on low for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally with wooden spoon until all liquid is absorbed

4. While lentils are simmering - prepare veggie mash, once potatoes or yams and soft, you can check by piercing them with a fork, strain the liquid from your veg but save this water for gravy,
mash veg and stir in butter, sea salt and fresh dill if you are using it, you can use a potato masher or electric mixer for extra fluffy mashing, set mash aside

5. Pre-heat your oven to 350-375, grease a large casserole dish and set aside while you finish your lentils by stirring in the remaining walnuts and green peas

6. Spread lentil mixture evenly in your casserole dish, follow with vegetable mash, bake for 25- 35 minutes until the mash is golden brown at the edges (optional: for extra browning melt a little more butter on top of the mash before baking)

7. While your pie is baking begin clean up and prepare gravy- put all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth, if you find it to be too thin add a bit of flour to thicken and blend again, or add additional vegetable water or hot water to thin.

8. Take your pie out of the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving, it will be too hot to eat right away.

9. While your pie cools, warm gravy in a small sauce pan on your stove top but do not boil, as over heating the miso will destroy its enzymes and health benefits

10. Enjoy with loved ones, serve pie on individual plates topped with miso gravy and fresh green onions or parsley

Some Health Benefits of Lentils: 
Super high in Iron for a plant food, dense in protein, fiber, and lower in calories. 
Not related to health but they are super cheap, very versatile and simple to cook!

Some Health Benefits of Nutritional Yeast:
Full of folic acid and Vitamin B12, an extremely essential nutrient that many vegetarians and vegans lack as plant foods do not provide much of it
Tastes delicious & cheesy, which is treat for those who miss out on cheese

I hope you enjoy my recipe! I apologize, is a bit lengthy in steps and has many ingredients but I promise it is amazing and even loved by meat lovers! You could take some short cuts by using frozen mixed vegetables and canned lentils, skip the gravy, perhaps melt some cheddar on top but I cant guarantee anything.

- Sara Binder