This year, Meatless Monday falls on the Ides of March, which was bad for Julius Caesar but usually a pretty good day for the rest of us. I decided to make something that would fit with Pi Day the day before and St. Patrick’s Day, which will happen two days from today. So my great meatless dinner tonight is vegetarian Shepards Pie!
This could easily be made vegan by using non-dairy milk, but I used cow milk from our local organic-ish dairy, Maple View Farm. Oh, and I used a pre-made pie crust that used butter–but not lard–which might be harder to do non-dairy, but you could always leave off the bottom crust completely.
Most of the vegetarian Shepards Pie recipes I saw, at least those that don’t use nuts and/or mushrooms (both of which I’m allergic to), replace the meat with lentils. However, I used farro because I think it has a more meat-like texture. It has some chew to it, which at least my lentils usually don’t. I cooked the farro in the Instant Pot while I boiled potatoes for the topping. I made a roux to thicken vegetable broth cooked with sauteed onions and garlic and frozen organic mixed vegetables and mixed in the farro and spices, particularly thyme and paprika. Then I heated up some milk and vegan margarine to combined with the potatoes for mashed potatoes. It was a rolled-up pie crust dough, so I unrolled it and fit it into the pan, added the farro and veggies and gravy mixture, and topped it with the mashed potatoes. Then I cooked it served it piping hot for dinner with some cherry tomatoes from the Farmers Market (so that isn’t particularly Irish, I realize, but they are circular so that fits with Pi Day, right?).
Nobody is ever going to mistake this for a meat-based Shepards Pie. But it is tasty and hardy and feels like comfort food even though it is healthier than the meat pie. Plus it checks off two of the current holidays, so it feels like a Scrabble-double-points celebration meal.