Winter Squash and Root Vegetable Lentil + Mung Bean Shepherd's Pie (Vegan)

October 18, 2014
 Say hello to my hoard of winter squash! Yeah.

It's starting to get colder outside after a late hit of summer. It was such a chilly and wet season, and then we had heat at the end of September and the beginning of October. Weird. We have snowfall at this time of year about half the time. It's been a lovely extended autumn with the leaves staying colourful instead of just falling off after being red for one day. Ha. Shepherd's Pie is cold weather food, and this baby is seasonal.

This isn't really a traditional shepherd's pie. It has a squash and sweet potato topping instead of normal mashed potatoes, and it's packed with lentils, beans, and veggies. There's still a kind of lightness to it because it's vegan and really low in fat. Theoretically, you could easily make it fat free, but a little healthy fat is important for digesting high-fibre foods. You know, so you don't have instant poop.

Warning! This isn't a speedy meal. Make it on the weekend and set aside some time for it. You can make it in the morning, leave it, and then reheat it for dinner. It's kind of a make it and forget it kind of deal.

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1 smallish winter squash* (about 2 cups cooked) with seeds removed
1 large sweet potato or two smallish ones
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon coconut oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut your roots in half, place face down on a greased pan, and bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Scoop the flesh out, toss it in a bowl, and mash it all together with the almond milk, coconut oil, salt, and pepper. Leave it to the side while you prep the other stuff.

1/2 cup dried French (green) lentils
1/2 cup mung beans
3 cups vegetable stock

Rinse the pulses and throw them into a medium sized pot. Add the vegetable stock and remove and mung beans that float to the top. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low-medium and simmer for thirty minutes. While that's cooking, you can prep your veggies.

After thirty minutes, just about all the liquid should be absorbed. Turn off the heat and leave the lid on until everything else is ready.

Vegetable layer:
1 large onion
2 largish carrots (I used five little ones)
2 parsnips (I don't know, aren't they all about the same size?)
1 roma-type tomato
2 cups kale
1 cup mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Salt and pepper to taste. A little cayenne doesn't hurt.

Chop everything fairly roughly. You want some texture, and it's going to be baked anyway, so don't worry too much about even cooking. Add the onion first, then the carrots and parsnips, then the tomato, and then the kale, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook each until just tender, but certainly not mushy. Add the balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan, then season with the mustard, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.

Stir the pulses into the vegetable mixture, then heat the vegetable stock and then whisk in the arrowroot powder. Pour this mixture into the pan with the cooked vegetables and pulses and stir it all up. I don't have a picture of the gravy stuff. It doesn't look that great, but don't worry about it.

Okay. Now you're ready to start assembling the pie. You want base, vegetable filling, a cup of frozen peas, and then the squash topping. After assembling, bake at 400F for about twenty minutes or until turning golden and bubbling up around the edges. Here's a photo tutorial!

Then eat it! Yum.

Avoid really sweet squashes like butternut for this recipe. I used a buttercup, but something like acorn would be good too. Don't use spaghetti squash!
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