This hearty vegetarian shepherd’s pie features tempeh, two types of mushrooms, and red wine – a similar combination to my vegan Bolognese. It’s as lovely for weeknight dinners as it is for festive weekend gatherings. Serve with a green side salad and plenty of wine.
One of the reservations I made right after booking our flight to Paris last winter was for Champeaux, a new brasserie from Alain Ducasse in the revamped Les Halles market. When we got there two months later, the restaurant was gorgeous. Sprawling, with floor to ceiling windows, a wrap-around marble bar, and these sexy, black leather booths with Mad Men-era chairs opposite them.
As we walked inside from the freezing cold, we were greeted by a friendly host, who quickly offered to converse in English. No way, Jose, I thought. I was fresh out of a French class at Fiaf and jokingly announced, “Non, merci. Je dois pratiquer.” (I must practice.)
The restaurant had this incredible waitstaff, who floated about unnoticeably, taking and delivering orders with the utmost grace. Our waitress in particular, was a sight for sore eyes. Petite, with short black hair tied back in a messy low bun, dark eyes and Parisienne red lips, the back of her uniform white blouse revealing a black lace bra. She was so quintessentially French and I fell in love with her immediately – in that unique way only straight women can with each other.
I don’t know if it was this lady-crush that made me pay extra attention, or the fact that she spoke crystal-clear textbook French, but I understood every word she said (I mean the specials and everything!) and did not have to use any English the whole time in the restaurant. I’m not gonna front – when we walked out, I was really proud of this milestone accomplishment.
Aside from our Pinterest-worthy waitress (let’s just call her Brigitte), the details of the meal are a bit fuzzy. But I do remember my main course – Hachis Parmertier with duck (French shepherd’s pie). It consisted of saucy shredded duck meat with a thick layer of creamy potato puree on top, baked together in a mini cast iron skillet. It was warm, hearty and satisfying, exactly the kind of comfort you need on a wintery Paris night.
Now that we’ve started having weekend guests in from the city, I’ve gotten into the habit of making braises as a “Welcome to Syracuse” dinner for friends and family. Several hour-long meaty braises just have that celebratory quality to them. And while they are deeply satisfying in an almost primal way, I’ve been thinking about how to replace them with an equally good yet lighter, plant-based alternative. Alas, I arrived at vegetarian shepherd’s pie, inspired by that Paris evening. This vegetarian shepherd’s pie utilizes tempeh and mushrooms instead of traditional ground beef (or the more French shredded duck).
I’m thrilled to partner with Emile Henry for this post. For over 150 years (yep, you read that correctly), they have been supplying the world with the most quintessentially French bakeware – the ceramic equivalent of Brigitte, if you will – like this gorgeous pie dish.Print
This hearty vegetarian shepherd’s pie features tempeh, mushrooms and red wine. It’s as lovely for weeknight dinners (it can be made in advance!) as it is for festive weekend gatherings. Serve with a green side salad.
- 4 medium white or butter potatoes (about 1 ¼ pounds), peeled and cut into ½” chunks
- Fine sea salt
- 1/3 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, warmed
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- One 8-ounce package of tempeh, crumbled
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence (or dried thyme, rosemary, or a mix of both)
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 10 ounces cremini mushrooms (about 10 large mushrooms), diced
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 3/4 cup mushroom or vegetable stock (low-sodium, if possible)
- Place the potatoes in a medium pot, add enough water to cover by 2 inches, and a teaspoon of salt. Close tightly with a lid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer with the lid ajar until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. Mash the potatoes until smooth. Add the milk and 1 tablespoon of the oil and mash again to incorporate. Taste and season with salt, if needed. Cover and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- While the potatoes are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and carrot with ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tempeh, garlic, Herbes de Provence, paprika, pepper, and another ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir to combine and cook until the tempeh is golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the mixture from the skillet and set aside.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of the oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Return the tempeh mixture to the skillet with the mushrooms and add the wine. Simmer for about 3 minutes to evaporate the alcohol. Then add the stock, bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook for 3 minutes more. Turn the heat off, taste, and adjust the seasonings if needed.
- Transfer the tempeh-mushroom mixture to a deep-dish pie pan or 8×8” baking dish. Dollop with the potatoes and spread them in an even layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the top is lightly golden.
- Calories: 250