Vegan Lentil Shepherd's Pie

1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 Tbsp Earth Balance or margarine
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2-1 cup almond milk, to taste
1 cup vegetable broth (I like Better than Bullion), heated
1 Tbsp miso paste (or extra of the following...)
1 Tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
1 cup frozen corn (TJ’s organic is great!)
1 cup frozen peas (ditto!)
2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup vegan cheese, optional

In a saucepan, cover lentils with an inch of water and bring to a boil.  Continue to boil, adding water as necessary, until lentils are tender.

In a separate pot, cover potatoes in several inches of water and bring to a boil.  Continue to gently boil until potatoes mash easily with a fork.

In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbsp Earth Balance.  Sauté the onion until beginning to soften.  Add the carrots and celery and sauté for several minutes longer until starting to soften.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, not more than a minute.  Add the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer.

Drain the lentils and set aside.  Drain the potatoes and return to the pot.  Add 2 Tbsp Earth Balance and mash.  Add almond milk gradually while mashing until you reach desired consistency (we like the mashed potatoes thick).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  To the skillet onion mixture, add the miso paste and the Bragg aminos or soy sauce.  Stir well to incorporate.  Rinse any excess ice from the frozen corn and peas, drain, and add to the skillet.  Once thawed, crush the rosemary and thyme in your hand and add to the skillet to release flavor while the frozen vegetables continue to cook.  Stir in the cooked lentils.  Taste for salt and pepper.  The lentil mixture should be thick with a slight bit of liquid.  If it’s completely dried out, add a little water.  If it’s soupy, let some of the liquid cook off.

Lightly oil an 8x11 to 9x13 baking dish.  Pour in the lentil mixture and level the top.  Add the mashed potatoes in dollops and gently spread with a rubber spatula to cover the lentils.  Top with vegan cheese if you like.

Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes.  The dish can be fully prepared in advance except for baking and refrigerated.  Leftovers are excellent re-heated.

-Bonnie Bogen,