These individual vegetarian shepherd’s pies with butternut squash topping are a delicious fall-veggie-packed comfort food meal. A savory sauté of lentils, mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes is spooned into individual ramekins and topped with golden pureed butternut squash and melted Gruyere cheese. They are naturally gluten-free and grain free, they have 12 grams of protein and they are only 229 calories each!
Earlier this month, my older daughter and I decided to challenge ourselves to a “no sad meat” challenge for one month. Sad meat is a term she coined while I was reading the Omnivores Dilemma Young Reader’s Edition to her.
She was eating a turkey sandwich at the time and the topic had come up that I wasn’t sure where the meat had come from or how it had been raised. That day I had picked up sandwiches at the local deli for lunch… and no I had not pulled a Portlandia and asked for the turkey’s papers of authenticity before placing my order to go. To me, this is all part of the pragmatic part of my being a pragmatic locavore. I am a locavore 90 percent of the time, but I don’t drive myself bonkers with getting there that last 10 percent of the time.
But there’s this totally annoying and inconvenient thing about having kids. They make you want to be a better person. To go that last 10 percent. To lead by example. Its like that bumper sticker that says “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” That’s what it’s like. But worse. I mean better. 😉
So she and I made a pact on the spot, turkey sandwich in her hand, that starting on her birthday we would both go a month of being meat free unless we knew which farm the meat came from and could in fact vouch for the fact that it wasn’t sad meat. I told her I didn’t think it would be that hard. After all, where we live in Vermont is a locavore’s dream, and finding humanely and sustainably raised meat is NBD.
For her, thankfully the chef at her school notes on the menu when a dish is made with local and sustainable meat. Which, believe it or not, happens regularly. Yay Vermont! Yay Chef James! ☺
I, for one, am actually kind of psyched, because I think this challenge is going to remind me, that 10 percent of the time that there’s a world of meat-free options. This week, I let the girls have hummus for their sandwiches instead of turkey or ham. That can’t be a bad thing. And my guess is I’ll also be making more recipes like this Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Butternut Squash.
That definitely won’t be a bad thing! These individual shepherd’s pies are so cheesy and flavorful. I added fresh oregano and chard from my garden to the vegetable mixture. For convenience I used canned lentils. If you can’t find canned lentils, you can boil some from scratch. Brown will be softer than green. Use 1 ½ cups cooked lentils in place of the drained can of lentils. I love the way the gruyere cheese melts on the top. It was so ooey gooey I had a hard time photographing it. Eating it however, not a problem! They disappeared in no time!
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These individual vegetarian shepherd’s pies with butternut squash topping are a delicious fall-veggie-packed comfort food meal. They are naturally gluten-free and grain free, they have 12 grams of protein and they are only 229 calories each!
- 1 tablespoon organic canola oil or avocado oil
- 1 large sweet onion
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or marjoram
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 15-ounce can lentils, drained and rinsed (or 1 ½ c cooked lentils)
- 1 packed cup finely chopped spinach or chard leaves
- 1 large Roma tomato, chopped (about 1 cup)
- ½ cup water or vegetable broth
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large chunks
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 4 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set 6 large ramekins on the baking sheet. Coat lightly with cooking spray.
- Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, mushrooms, oregano or marjoram and ½ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables start to brown, about 10 minutes. Add lentils, spinach and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and divide among the prepared ramekins.
- Meanwhile, bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer attachment. Add squash to the steamer, cover and cook until the squash is tender with pierced with a fork, 12 to 14 minutes. Empty squash into food processor. Add butter, yogurt and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Puree until smooth, scraping the sides of the processor as necessary. Divide the squash over the lentil mixture in the ramekins.
- Top the shepherd’s pie with cheese, dividing evenly. Bake until the pies are bubbling and the cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.
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