Would you expect to find a killer vegetarian shepherd’s pie in a Southern cookbook?
But today, I made this Gardener’s Pie – a full-bodied layer of perfectly seasoned vegetable stew crowned with golden, buttery mashed potatoes – from Martha Hall Foose’s new cookbook, “A Southerly Course.”
I thought it would be good, but I wasn’t expecting the sort of second-helping scrumptiousness that makes you reconsider the wisdom of wearing belted pants.
Most vegetarian shepherd’s pies skimp on the vegetable stew, leaving you with just a thin layer under the mashed potatoes. But this Gardener’s Pie has a stew that’s thick and brimming with onion, green pepper, carrots, corn, peas and kidney beans. It’s a delicious, filling combination that complements the potatoes and makes this a true one-dish meal.
As for the mashed potatoes, they’re so melt-in-your-mouth good, they taste like you must have stolen them from someone’s granny’s stove. I’ll be coming back to this recipe to make them, even when I’m not planning to make the full Gardener’s Pie.
Because I can’t get enough mashed potatoes in my diet.
Thank God for Spanx.
Adapted from Martha Hall Foose’s “A Southerly Course”
- 1 1/2 pounds russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in 1/2-inch dice
- 1/4 cup half-and-half
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 (14-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen shelled green peas
- For the Mashed Potatoes: Place the diced potatoes in a medium saucepan, and cover with salted cold water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes and return them, off the heat, to the saucepan.
- Warm the half-and-half and butter in the microwave for 35 seconds.
- Mash the potatoes. Add the half-and-half and butter mixture, salt, and pepper, and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the egg yolk. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- For the Filling: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and carrots. Cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the garlic, salt and pepper.
- Stir in the flour, and keep cooking for another minute.
- Stir in the tomato paste, vegetable broth, rosemary and thyme.
- Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the kidney beans, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Stir in the corn and peas.
- Spread the vegetable mixture evenly in an 11-by-7-inch glass baking dish.
- Top with mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up, and smooth with a rubber spatula.
- Put the baking dish on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.