Meatless Mondays are a worldwide phenomenon encouraging people to ditch some of the meat they eat in favor of plant-based food for a range of reasons: it’s often healthier and more environmentally friendly, and encourages creative cooking with delicious results!
Israeli food tends to include a lot of poultry (schnitzel, anyone?), but is actually pretty veggie based – big dishes of chopped salad accompany almost every meal; national favorites hummus and falafel are pure plants; and what is an Israeli breakfast if not a celebration of all things salad?
Winter is rolling in, and Jerusalem winters are cold and bitter. Shepherd’s pie is a favorite cold-weather dish, and this vegetarian adaptation is a warming winter treat that’s so good, you’ll forget you’re eating meat-free! This version isn’t totally guilt-free – the topping includes a dollop of butter and cheese, but feel free to skip them if you want a more virtuous meal. Happy cooking and stay warm!
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie (serves 4)
- A little sunflower oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 sticks celery, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- Small sweet potato, diced
- Small box button mushrooms, sliced
- 70g green lentils (dried)
- 50g black-eyed beans (dried)
- Half a tin chickpeas
- Sprig of thyme
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 100g Gruyere (or other strongly flavored hard cheese, approx 75g roughly grated and the rest finely shredded)
- 75g butter
- Approx 75ml warmed milk
- Before you start cooking: prepare your pulses. Place dried pulses in a bowl of cold water for around four hours. This softens and rehydrates the beans and lentils to make them usable. Drain when done.
(If you don’t have time to soak your pulses, substitute red lentils and a tin of white, brown or black beans.)
- Heat sunflower oil over a medium heat in a large pot. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes, until soft. Add the carrots and celery and sweat for a few minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for a further three minutes.
- Add the sweet potato, pulses, and thyme to the pot, then cover with boiling water (or a light vegetable stock). Cover and cook for about 40 minutes until the carrots, lentils, and beans are soft. Add more water as necessary – you need your liquid to be around the same level as your vegetables.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 200°C. To make your mash topping, place potatoes in a pot with plenty of cold salted water. Cover and bring to a boil, then cook until soft (approx 25 mins). Drain well, then add butter. Beat into a soft mash, adding warm milk until you get a perfect consistency. Stir through the thickly grated cheese and season.
- When the vegetable mixture is done, discard the thyme stalks and season the mixture. Top generously with mashed potatoes, then scatter the remaining cheese over the top. Bake in your preheated oven until the mashed potato topping turns a rich golden-brown and your kitchen is filled with delicious smells. Serve with something green (steamed broccoli with lemon?) and enjoy!