Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie
I often make this meal to use up leftovers in my fridge or freezer (those packages of frozen veggies that only have a little life left in them!). I combine about 3 cups of vegetables (or use mixed veggies) – I like any of the following in this: peas, corn, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green or yellow beans, and Brussels sprouts but there may be others you’d like to try. If you’d like, you can add some chopped onion and/or celery to this – I don’t care for celery in it but the onion adds a nice taste if I have some on hand.
I prepare a simple cheese sauce as follows: I begin with a basic Bechamel sauce recipe – melt 3 T. butter or margarine (but I highly recommend butter in this) over low to medium heat and then stir in 3 T. flour to make a roux. Stir this constantly for about a minute and then whisk in 2 cups milk. Turn the heat up to medium-high and continue stirring constantly until it comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat and add shredded cheese – I usually use about a cup of cheese but I like it pretty cheesy so you may prefer less. Again, I use whatever cheese I have on hand – even a mix of cheeses is really delicious.
I mix the veggies with the cheese sauce and place this in a casserole dish that has been greased with butter or sprayed with a cooking spray. For the topping, I use about 2 cups of leftover mashed potatoes but my favourite for this is to combine mashed white and sweet potatoes together. Mmmmm. You can sprinkle paprika on top or cover with breadcrumbs and/or even some grated parmesan. Some people like to top it with those French-fried onions that come in a can too but I don’t really care for those much. I bake this at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes.
Another meatless meal I really enjoy is this take on a pizza recipe. Because I have a permanent hand injury, I don’t make my own pizza dough – I purchase it and keep it in my freezer until I need it. Pizza Bianca (“white pizza”) traditionally doesn’t have sauce on it and that’s how I prefer it but I do know some people who like to use a sauce like an Alfredo style on this instead of leaving it plain. Again, this is a good pizza to use up some leftovers because it calls for cooked white potatoes. I use baked or boiled potatoes (peeled is traditional but I still find it good when they are left with the peels on) that are sliced about 1/4 inch thick. Place a layer of these over the pizza crust (on top of the sauce if you are using that) and then sprinkle on cracked pepper (lemon pepper is really tasty here), and finely grated garlic. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese (you can use other cheeses if you prefer), a little grated parmesan, finely chopped fresh basil, and some sprigs of fresh rosemary. Bake in a hot oven (400-450 degrees F) until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Note: Pizza Bianca is supposed to be predominantly white (hence the name of course) by tradition but this recipe is really good with spinach added to it. I’m sure you can come up with lots of other variations as well.