… the poor Viking has come down with an old-fashioned cold so it’s been a weekend of blankets by the fire and lots of healthy, fresh food and plenty of vitamins from fruit and nuts. The Viking is pretty miserable. He hates being stuck in the house and like a caged tiger he paces back and forth moaning about wasted days… for me it’s an utter joy. I love having an excuse to do nothing. We work so hard during the week and then the pressure of the blog means I work hard on the weekends too so an excuse to be laid up works well for me. I also love it when I need to look after him. It means I can boss him around but also spend time in the kitchen, making food, cups of tea and cake and forcing him to relax. Silly, I know but I quite like it.
quorn mince and left-over veg shepherds pie
this is the perfect pie for a miserable wintery Sunday, it doesn’t take long to rustle together and yet it tastes like it’s been on the stove for a whole day… i’m also using a lot of left-over vegetables – stuff that’s either been in the fridge for a while or stuff that was left-over from a stir-fry made the other day… little cut-offs from the asparagus and the ends of the broccoli that I usually keep for stock but thought would work well here. I like my shepherds pie with a little bite so i’ve include nice, chunky pieces of vegetables along with the Quorn mince. A quick word on this vegetarian mince… I love Quorn products. They’ve vastly improved the flavour over the years but they’ve also developed and improved the texture of all their products, so much so that I genuinely think this particular vegetarian mince substitute is by far the best on the market. I know that many people don’t understand why you want want to replace the meat with a fake meat but i’m sorry, when I want a shepherds pie or a Bolognese, that’s exactly what I want. The protein is essential for The Viking who needs it as part of his diet… and as a dyed-in-the-wool Northerner, he needs his pie so the Quorn really is the best of both worlds.
- a large nob of butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion – chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic – peeled and crushed
- the roots of 2 celery bunches (roughly 150g celery) – chopped
- half a fennel bulb – chopped
- 4 medium mushrooms – chopped
- 1 x 300g bag of Quorn meat-free mince
- the chopped roots of one bunch of asparagus and 1 large broccoli head
- 8 Brussels Sprouts – trimmed and halved
- a handful of green beans – chopped
- 1/2 litre vegetable stock and gravy granules mix
- 1/4 litre red wine
- fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme and oregano
for the mash topping
- 1 swede – peeled and chopped
- 5 medium potatoes – peeled and chopped
- 100g strong cheddar – finely grated
- extra virgin olive oil and butter
i’m using my lovely Denby casserole dish and making the whole thing from start to finish in this but feel free to use any kind of pan and oven-proof dish combo
start with the mash… I steam my swede and potatoes because I think they are fluffier this way but get them to the soft stage anyhow you like and then mash them together with plenty of seasoning, butter, olive oil and fresh herbs… i’ve also mashed in some strong cheddar for extra flavour – once you have a rough mash, set aside.
in a large pan over a medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil and throw in the celery, onion, fennel, garlic and herbs and let them sauté until soft with just a little colour. Throw in any vegetable trimmings you have along with the mushrooms and let them sauté and soften also, then throw in the Quorn mince and stir it around so that it absorbs all the wonderful juices and butter and let it cook off for about 5 minutes. Stir in any other vegetables such as the sprouts and green beans at this stage.
pour in the stock and red wine and let it bubble away for another 5 minutes until the stock reduces a little – stir regularly so that it doesn’t stick to the pan
turn the heat off and set aside to cool slightly, then place spoonfuls of the mash all over the top and carefully spread it out with a fork… it probably won’t completely cover the top but that’s fine and as the gravy bubbles through during the cooking process it will give it a beautiful rustic look
place in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 20 mins or until the the top becomes golden and crispy.
eat and of course, enjoy!