Thursday, March 26, 2015

Very Veggie Pesach 2015: Vegan Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's pie is a great idea for Passover: it's a pie with a mashed potato "crust"! But it's normally a meat pie, and commonly includes a vegetable that is not kosher for Passover (peas). I substituted cashews for the meat to provide protein, and substituted asparagus for the peas, and was very happy with the results!

Be sure to use gold potatoes for this recipe (Yukon gold or any other gold). Russet potatoes are great for baking, and white or red are great for stewing, but gold potatoes have a smoother, creamier texture that is best for mashing, which is vital for this recipe. And don't skimp on the potatoes: I tried it once with less potato and ended up with a tough potato film on top instead of the soft top that should be there. The horseradish is not necessary, but it's a traditional Passover flavor that goes very well with potatoes.

If you're not a fan of asparagus, you can substitute another green vegetable, but you'll probably want something green to balance it out. Peas are kitniyos, not kosher for Passover, so don't go there! But you could use broccoli, green peppers, Brussels sprouts, maybe spinach or zucchini.


  • 1-1/2 pounds gold potatoes (with or without skins; whatever you prefer)
  • 4 tbsp. butter or margarine (more or less)
  • 1 tbsp. prepared white horseradish (optional)

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 of a large sweet onion, chopped (about a cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • leaves from a sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 2 cups of cashews, chopped
  • 5 large carrots, chopped
  • 5 asparagus, chopped
  • 1 cup water or vegetable broth

Kashrut Notes

  • Star K's website confirms that fresh supermarket produce is not a Passover problem, which covers the potatoes, onion, garlic, carrots, asparagus and maybe the rosemary. Rosemary can be hard to find fresh, so you might need to find some Passover-certified dried. You don't want to skip the rosemary, because it really does wonderful things for the flavor.
  • Margarine requires KFP certification: most margarines are made from non-Passover oils, particularly corn oil.  Kosher for Passover margarines are available in better Passover aisles made with cottonseed oil.  If you don't need a vegan recipe, use butter. Breakstone's butter is often available with KFP certification in many grocery stores.
  • Gold's prepared horseradish is certified KFP all of the time.  Look for the OU with the P next to it.
  • OU's website currently states that all the extra virgin olive oils they certify year-round are kosher for Passover without any special Passover certification. Many olive oils are marked for Passover all year round.
  • Cashews are a Passover problem: nuts are normally packaged with preservatives BHA and BHT, suspended in corn oil.  Make sure the cashews you use are marked kosher for Passover.  These will normally be in the Passover section of stores with a better selection.  If you can't find them locally, online vendor Oh! Nuts had a nice selection.
  • Vegetable broth would requires Passover certification.  There are vegetable broth cubes that are marked kosher for Passover year-round, found in most kosher sections of the grocery store.  I have become very partial to Better Than Boullion Vegetable Base, which is reliably KFP certified all year round and is sometimes found in regular grocery stores. If you can't find broth, water is OK, though you might need some salt (which also requires KFP certification).


  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees (note that this is higher than usual)
  • Cut the potatoes into manageable pieces (I cut each potato into 8 pieces) and boil them for about 20 minutes
  • While the potatoes are boiling, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions for a few minutes, until they soften.
  • Add the garlic and rosemary to the onions and stir to mix well
  • Add the cashews, carrots and asparagus to the mix and continue to sauté for a few minutes.
  • Add the vegetable broth or water and stir.
  • Let the nuts and vegetables simmer while the potatoes finish boiling, then turn the heat down very low while preparing the potatoes.
  • Drain the potatoes.
  • In a large bowl, mash the margarine and horseradish into the potatoes until the mixture is smooth.
  • Pour the nut and vegetable mix into a deep 8 x 8 pan or casserole dish and spread it evenly.
  • Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the vegetable mix. This will work best if you spoon it over various parts of the pan, rather than putting it all in one place and spreading. Some people like to flatten the potato crust, while others like to shape it into waves; there is no right or wrong.
  • Put the pan into the oven for about 25 minutes, until the mashed potatoes are beginning to brown.
  • Take it out of the oven and let it cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Makes 4-6 servings.

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