Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

This was casserole was truly a one-dish meal. It is so loaded with vegetables, I didn’t feet the need to serve it with a salad or other green on the side. 🙂 We enjoyed it as our celebratory St. Patrick’s Day dinner this year. The “meaty” combination of lentils and mushrooms in this dish made my meat-loving family members happy. Don’t worry… they had corned beef sandwiches for lunch too.

My riced-potato topped casserole was filled with lentils, mushrooms, fresh herbs, as well as roasted cauliflower, butternut squash, and carrots. The sauce was flavored with dried porcini mushrooms, wine, onions, and loads of garlic. It was fabulously saucy with layers of rich flavor.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit. Next time, I would prepare the components of the dish a day in advance, as much as possible. The potato topping would ideally be prepared in advance at the very least. This delicious dish was absolutely worth the work and the wait! Great.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

For the Topping:

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, unpeeled
  • 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½” cubes
  • about 3/4 to 1 cup milk (I used 1 percent)
  • coarse salt

For the Filling:

  • ¾ cup brown or French green lentils
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 17 garlic cloves, divided
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 large yellow onions, coarsely chopped (about 3-4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock (I incorporated 4 cups homemade Turkey Stock)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce or 2 tablespoons white miso
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 cups ½-inch pieces peeled fall/winter vegetables (such as squash, turnips, carrots, and parsnips) (I used 1 medium butternut squash, 1 head of cauliflower, & 2 carrots)
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed, halved
  • 2 4-inch sprigs rosemary
  • 10 oz (about 2 cups) bite-size pieces mixed fresh mushrooms (I used sliced cremini & white button mushrooms)
  • ¼ cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as parsley, thyme, chives, and sage)

To Make the Topping:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°, preferably on convection.
  2. Bake potatoes on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet until tender, about 40 minutes for the gold potatoes and 1 hour for the russet potatoes.
  3. Let cool slightly, then peel.
  4. Press potatoes through a ricer, food mill, or colander into a large bowl.
  5. Add butter; stir until well blended.
  6. Stir in milk until desired consistency is achieved.
  7. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.

DO AHEAD: Potatoes can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool, press plastic wrap directly onto potatoes, and chill.

To Prepare the Lentils:

  1. Combine lentils, 1 garlic clove, 1 tsp salt, and 4 cups water in a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender but not mushy, 15–25 minutes.
  3. Drain lentils and discard garlic. Set aside.

To Make the Sauce:

  1. Soak dried porcini in 3 cups hot water; set aside.
  2. Heat 3 T olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. (I used an enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  3. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add 10 cloves of chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Stir in tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly, until tomato paste is caramelized, 2–3 minutes.
  6. Add bay leaves and wine; stir, scraping up any browned bits.
  7. Stir in porcini, slowly pouring porcini soaking liquid into pan but leaving any sediment behind.
  8. Bring to a simmer and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
  9. Stir in broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 40 to 45 minutes.
  10. Strain mixture into a large bowl with a spout. Discard the solids.
  11. Wipe Dutch oven clean and returned strained sauce to pot; bring to a boil. (I had 5 cups of strained sauce.)
  12. Stir cornstarch and 3 T water in a small bowl to dissolve.
  13. Add cornstarch mixture to hot sauce; simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  14. Whisk in soy sauce/miso.
  15. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

To Make the Vegetable Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Toss vegetables and pearl onions with remaining 2 T oil, 6 garlic cloves, and rosemary sprigs in a large bowl or on 2 parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheets; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Divide evenly between the 2 rimmed baking sheets. Roast, stirring once, until tender, 20–25 minutes.
  4. Transfer garlic cloves to a small bowl; mash well with a fork and stir into sauce.
  5. Discard rosemary.

DO AHEAD: Lentils, sauce, and vegetables can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately; chill.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. Arrange lentils in an even layer in a 3-qt. baking dish; set dish on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Toss roasted vegetables with fresh mushrooms and chopped herbs; layer on top of lentils.
  3. Pour sauce over vegetables.
  4. Spoon potato mixture evenly over. Swirl decoratively.
  5. Bake at 425°, preferably on convection, until browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking process.
  6. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

I’m sharing my St. Patrick’s Day feast at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #163 this week. Enjoy!!

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Ina Garten’s Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Most people make carrot cake in the springtime… I make it in the fall to celebrate my mom’s birthday. 🙂 It’s one of her absolute favorites. I have made this yummy version several times- they are special and delicious.

This recipe was adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties! Ideas and Recipes for Easy Parties that are Really Fun by Ina Garten. I cut the recipe in half to make 12 cupcakes, adjusted the baking times for a convection oven, and used the orange cream-cheese frosting from my favorite (springtime) orange chiffon bunny cake.

Fabulous! A true gold standard. Happy Birthday, Mom. ❤ ❤

Yield: Makes 12 cupcakes

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 1/2 T vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg plus 2 T beaten egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots (less than 1/2 pound)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the Orange-Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 stick, room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (I used light cream cheese)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • grated orange zest, from about 1/3 of a large orange, about 3/4 tsp
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

To Make the Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Beat the sugar, oil, and vanilla together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  3. Add the egg, mix to combine. Repeat with the additional 2 T of beaten egg.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
  5. With the mixer on low-speed, add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
  6. Add the grated carrots, raisins, and walnuts to the remaining flour, mix well, and add to the batter. Mix until just combined.
  7. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
  8. Using a cookie scoop,  scoop the batter into 12 muffin cups until each is 3/4 full.
  9. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  10. Cook an additional 10 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on a rack.

To Make the Frosting:

  1. Cream the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  2. Add the zest and salt, beat to combine.
  3. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.
  4. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: If the recipe is doubled, 3 large eggs can be used to make 22 to 24 cupcakes.

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Tropical Carrot, Turmeric, & Ginger Smoothie

This smoothie is the most unusual I’ve ever made- or tasted. It’s spicy but not too spicy. Savory but not too savory- thanks to the orange and mango. Super healthy. It was very ORANGE too! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I substituted chia seeds for hemp seeds and dried turmeric for fresh. I was too cold to add the ice! It was a perfect lunch with a small handful of walnuts.

Yield: about 2 cups, one serving

  • 1 blood or navel orange, peel and white pith removed
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup frozen mango chunks
  • ⅔ cup coconut water
  • 1 tablespoon shelled raw hemp seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger
  • 1½ teaspoons finely grated peeled turmeric
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup ice
  1. Using smoothie or ice crush setting, purée orange, carrot, mango, coconut water, hemp/chia seeds, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, salt, and ½ cup ice in a blender until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)

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Maple Dijon Roasted Rainbow Carrots

When I saw this recipe on Brooklyn Homemaker right before Thanksgiving, I immediately added it to my menu. I loved the flavors and rainbow carrots are just irresistible. Thank goodness some of my fellow bloggers post wonderful side dishes before a holiday! Maybe I’ll do that someday. 😉

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 lbs rainbow carrots
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, preferably dark amber
  • 1 T dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 to 4 T chopped flat leaf parsley, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F on convection roast.
  2. Wash, dry, and peel carrots and place in a shallow dish long and wide enough to fit them all. (I used a parchment lined (rimmed) baking sheet.)
  3. Add butter and thyme to a small saucepan and heat over a medium flame to melt butter. Continue to warm the butter for 1 to 2 minutes. The butter should take on a green-ish tint from the thyme leaves.
  4. Remove from heat and cool for a few minutes.
  5. In a small bowl combine maple syrup, mustards, nutmeg, and salt and pepper.
  6. Whisk in butter until smooth and well combined.
  7. Pour the butter/syrup mixture over the carrots and toss to coat.
  8. Arrange the carrots on a parchment lined baking sheet, and use a spatula to scrape any remaining butter/syrup mixture over them. You may want to use two sheets of parchment to make sure the whole pan is completely covered.
  9. Roast until tender and brown, for about 35 minutes or up to 1 hour, using tongs to turn each carrot about 20 minutes in. Watch carefully to ensure that the sugar in the maple syrup doesn’t burn onto the parchment.
  10. Top with chopped parsley or additional fresh thyme before serving.

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Two Years Ago:

Orecchiette with Carrot-Hazelnut Pesto

This healthy vegetarian pasta dish was super quick and easy to make. The sweet, raw carrots were lovely combined with the toasted hazelnuts in the coarsely textured pesto. The crunchy hazelnut garnish over the top of the finished dish provided a wonderful contrasting texture as well. This recipe is from Martha Stewart Living. We ate it as a vegetarian main dish but it would also be nice as a side dish.

Well, I’m a little late to the party… My kids’ schedules are taking over my life!! :/ This is the first (of several) springtime (or anytime!) vegetarian pasta dishes that I planned to bring to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #63 this week… I’m just a tiny bit late. (My kids are a great excuse, but my son did have a HUGE swim meet this weekend!!) Enjoy! (and look forward to the next several pastas) 🙂

Yield: Serves 6 as a main dish

  • 6 small carrots (8 ounces), peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup toasted whole hazelnuts, plus 2 tablespoons, chopped, for serving
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano (2 ounces)
  • coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 pound orecchiette
  1. Toast the hazelnuts: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. (I used a toaster oven.) Roast the hazelnuts until fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool; rub off the brown skins.
  2. Combine carrots, whole toasted hazelnuts, garlic, and grated cheese in the bowl of a food processor; season with salt. Pulse until coarsely pureed.
  3. With motor running, slowly add oil, processing to a paste.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt. Cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions.
  5. Drain pasta; transfer to a bowl. Add pesto and toss to coat evenly.
  6. Drizzle with oil, top with chopped hazelnuts, and serve immediately.

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Moroccan-Spiced Roasted Carrots with Harissa and Maple Syrup

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This colorful and flavorful dish offered a break from the heavier dishes on the Thanksgiving table. The harissa added some unexpected spiciness as well. This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2½ to 3 pounds small rainbow carrots, scrubbed, tops trimmed to about ½”, halved
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed
  1. Preheat oven to 450° (on convection roast).
  2. Whisk garlic, oil, maple syrup, harissa, and cumin seeds in a small bowl; season garlic mixture with salt and pepper.
  3. Toss carrots and lemon with garlic mixture in a large roasting pan to coat; season with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast, tossing occasionally, until carrots are tender and lemons are caramelized, 25 (convection) to 35 minutes.

Do Ahead: Carrots can be roasted 6 hours ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Bring to room temperature or reheat slightly before serving.

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Vegetable Strudel Casserole

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I tend to make dishes with a similar theme or flavor-profile. This dish sounded original and different- outside of the box for me. Then Nancy of Feasting with Friends Blog posted a Veggie Strudel on the same day I was making this one! So, I suppose this dish isn’t that original…. but it was tasty. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen. I modified the recipe by baking it as a casserole instead of in individual pieces- seemed much neater that way! I also modified it by increasing the mushrooms, onions, and scallions, using cauliflower instead of broccoli, and by adding green beans. I also sprayed each layer of phyllo dough with canola oil spray instead of brushing with olive oil; I did brush the top layer with olive oil prior to baking. Very nice.

  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 2 yellow onions, minced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 3 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 2 to 3 cups chopped cauliflower or broccoli (about a generous quarter of a large head)
  • 1 cup trimmed and chopped green beans, optional
  • 10 oz button mushrooms, minced
  • 1 to 2 tsp coarse salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 10 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T minced fresh dill
  • 7 scallions, greens and whites, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese
  • 3/4 cup fine bread crumbs, separated
  • canola oil cooking spray
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound phyllo dough leaves, thawed
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (convection). Lightly oil a 9×13-inch baking pan. (I use an enameled cast iron pan.)
  2. Make the Filling: Melt the butter in a Dutch oven. Add onion, and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the carrot, cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower, green beans, mushrooms, and 1 tsp salt. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring intermittently, until the vegetables are just tender (about 5 minutes).
  3. Remove pan from heat. Stir in the caraway, garlic, lemon juice, dill, scallions, pepper, cheese, and 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  4. Remove half of the phyllo dough leaves from the package and sandwich between two pieces of plastic wrap. Cover with a damp towel.
  5. Lay one sheet of phyllo in the oiled baking pan and lightly spray with canola oil or lightly brush with olive oil. Continue layering the sheets of dough, adding oil between each layer, until 1/2 pound of dough (1/2 package) is used.
  6. Sprinkle the stack of phyllo with the remaining 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs.
  7. Add the filling, spreading it to within 1/2 inch of the edges.
  8. Layer more phyllo dough over the filling, spraying or brushing each layer with oil. Use the entire box. Brush olive oil over the top layer.

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