French Onion Shepherd’s Pie

FRENCH ONION & LENTIL FILLING:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra
  • 3 lbs yellow onions, peeled and sliced into half moons
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 ½ cups French lentils, rinsed
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sherry/balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons gluten-free tamari soy sauce
  • 5 cups vegetable stock, plus extra

MASH:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 ½ lbs waxy potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 a large head of cauliflower
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

For the simple dish that it is, this one is a bit more work as you need to get the french onion twist by caramelizing them for about an hour. the rest is pretty simple, but just know it takes a couple of hours for this to come together.

  1. In a large skillet heat about 3tbs olive oil and cover the bottom of the pan. Add the onions, and turn the heat down to just under high until they become transluscent. Sauté the onions, stirring often, until they are just starting to soften on the edges. Then, lower the heat slightly.
  2. Keep cooking and stirring the onions occasionally until they are light golden brown, jammy, and super sweet. Not quite in the caramelized state, but getting there. This process will take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Add splashes of water if the onions start to dry up/stick
  3. Increase the heat back to medium. Add the thyme, bay leaf, and garlic to the pot and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and stir. Cook for about one minute. Add the lentils to the pot and stir. Then, add the sherry vinegar and tamari to the pot. Scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Season everything with salt and pepper. Add the vegetable stock to the pot and stir once more. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and then cook until lentils are tender, about 25-30 minutes. There should be just enough liquid to surround the onions and lentils. Add more vegetable stock if necessary.
  4. I did this as a freezer meal so once the lentils were tender, I divided into 4 individual freezer pans and set aside to cool (remove your herbs).
  5. the potato mash can be on at the same time. you want to heat a large pot with salted water, add the potatoes, cauliflower and garlic and boil until tender. Drain and add the butter, milk and nutritional yeast. Salt and pepper to taste and mash everything until smooth.
  6. Dollop the cauliflower and potato mash on top. Carefully spread the mash out over the surface of the French onion and lentil base. Drizzle the top of the mash with olive oil and some extra pinches of salt and pepper.
  7. Preheat the oven to 375F when ready to cook the pie. you can do it in a large skillet or like I did in individual servings. Bake the French onion shepherd’s pie for 25 minutes, or until bubbly and totally heated through. You can broil the top for extra browning if you like. Remove the pie from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.

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