Macrobiotic Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is quite the comfort food for many people – myself included. This recipe was inspired by a dish my grandmother prepared for a family get together a few months back. She replaced the ground meat portion with a delicious, savoury lentil base instead, and I realized that with a few more tweaks and substitutions, I could probably create a pretty tasty alternative.

My macrobiotic Shepherd’s Pie uses green French Du Puy lentils in the base, which retain their shape quite nicely. The common macrobiotic Millet Mash replaces the mashed potato. No nightshade vegetables, no dairy. And yet those who have tasted it, including everyone at the Macro Feast, insist it tastes just as good – some argue even better – as my original meat and cheese recipe!

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Millet Mash

Ingredients:
– 1 cup millet
– 1 small/medium head cauliflower, cut into small chunks
– 3 cups vegetable stock
– 1/2 tsp salt

Rinse the millet well and toast in a large stainless steel dutch oven, over medium heat, until dry, puffed, and fragrant.

Add cauliflower, salt, and water, and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes, or until all the water has evaporated. *

Let the mixture cool slightly and then blend the millet and cauliflower or put through a food mill until it has a smooth and creamy consistency. The mixture should still be hot when you blend it, or else it will not combine properly.

Lentil Base

Ingredients:
– 1 cup Du Puy lentils
– 2 cups vegetable stock
– 1 bay leaf
– 1/2 tsp salt

– 2 tbsp sesame oil
– 1 small/medium onion, minced
– cooked lentils
– 1/4 cup vegetable stock
– 2 tbsp shoyu

First, sort your lentils to remove any rocks or other material and then rinse them well. Bring the lentils, 2 cups of vegetable stock, bay leaf, and salt to a boil. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 20-25 minutes, or until liquid has evaporated and lentils are fully cooked.

Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook minced onion until soft and beginning to brown slightly, about 5 minutes. Add cooked lentils, the remaining vegetable stock, and the shoyu. Let this come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let cook for about 10 minutes while the vegetable layer cooks.

Vegetable Layer

Ingredients:
– 2 tbsp sesame oil
– 2-3 cups diced vegetables (onion, carrot, green beans, corn, peas, etc.), as preferred **
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1/4 cup organic sake

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetables and salt and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add sake, bring to a boil, and let simmer for another 5-10 minutes over medium-low heat.

To Assemble

To assemble the Shepherd’s Pie, spread the lentil base evenly into a glass or ceramic rectangular baking dish, about 12″ x 9″, and at least 2″ deep. Spread the vegetables evenly over the lentils. Then, spread the millet mash over the vegetable layer. You have to cover the millet layer with something like aluminum foil or parchment paper (I recommend avoiding the aluminum foil, if possible) or else the baking process will result in a crust forming over the millet mash – which tastes fine, but isn’t as textually appealing as a nice, smooth mash.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and serve nice and hot.

Enjoy!

Notes:
* Cook the lentils and the vegetables while the millet mash cooks. The millet mash should be spread over the vegetable layer as soon after blending as possible. If the millet mash is allowed to cool too much, it will be too difficult to spread without disrupting the lower layers.

** I like to size my diced vegetables for this at 1-cm cubes or smaller, except the green or yellow beans which I like to keep at least an inch long.

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