St. Patrick’s Day is almost here and every year my husband and I throw a party to celebrate the awesome food, music, and jovial spirit of the Irish! Some of our favorite musicians (Imelda May, The Tossers, The Pogues, Glen Hansard) will fill the air of our house as we join in merriment with our dear friends. And of course, one of my favorite parts about it is the food! I love to come up with variations on Irish dishes and this year I’ve turned the quintessential Irish dish — Shepherd’s Pie — into an appetizer. I did a vegetarian version (topped with Irish cheddar cheese) and a vegan version (topped with mashed potatoes)…they’re both insanely delicious and will have you tapping your toes to an Irish jig!
These shepherd’s pie potato skins are a veg head’s dream…they’re basically vegetables filled with other vegetables and topped with — in the case of the vegan version — more vegetables! Sage and thyme infuse the filling and mushrooms and lentils lend a savory “meaty” flavor and heft. Whether you’re topping them with cheese or vegan mashed potatoes, the fresh parsley and drizzle of balsamic syrup add a pop of punchy brightness. They’re comforting, nutritious, hearty and super satisfying. Sláinte mhaith!!
We start off with baked russet potatoes – slice them in half lengthwise and scoop out most of the potato flesh, reserving it for the mashed potatoes. Brush each side with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake until crisp. Mash the reserved potato flesh with olive oil (or vegan butter), dairy-free milk, salt and pepper, then add to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.
For the veggie-loaded filling, sauté finely diced onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms and garlic in olive oil. Soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, sage and thyme are added to give it that herby/savory/stewy flavor.
Sprinkle on a bit of flour and stir in vegetable stock until thickened and most of the liquid is absorbed – this helps bind the veggies together so when you’re eating the potato skin they don’t tumble out everywhere. Then add the cooked pink lentils and stir to combine.
Fill those guys up! You may have extra filling…eat it! It’s so good!
Top with shredded Irish cheddar cheese or pipe (or spoon & spread) on the mashed potatoes.
Then pop them under the broiler until the cheese is melted and the mashed potato edges are browned. WATCH them! They go from “yeah that’s it!” to “holy crap they’re burnt!” in no time.
The mashed potato tops are faintly crisp on the outside and irresistibly creamy on the inside.
The cheesy cheese is ooey gooey and melty all over.
Drop a scattering of chopped flat-leaf parsley on top and haphazardly drizzle on some aged balsamic vinegar.
Serve them warm with a frosty pint! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Need more St. Patrick’s Day recipe ideas? Check out these Irish-inspired recipes:
This recipe has been submitted to the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck.
Vegetarian & Vegan Shepherd's Pie Potato Skins
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or vegan butter, plus more for brushing potatoes
salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 portabella mushrooms, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 twelve-ounce bag frozen peas
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage (or 1 – 2 teaspoons dried)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 Tablespoon flour
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 cup cooked pink lentils
salt and pepper
mashed potatoes (for vegan version)
grated Irish cheddar cheese (for vegetarian version)
chopped flat-leaf parsley
aged balsamic vinegar or balsamic syrup
*This recipe starts with already baked potatoes and cooked pink lentils.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut baked potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out flesh into a large bowl, leaving a thin boarder or lining of potato flesh in tact. Place the potato halves on a large rimmed baking sheet and brush each side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook potatoes for 5 – 7 minutes, flip over and cook for another 5 – 7 minutes, until exterior is browned and crisp. Set aside.
For the mashed potatoes, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil or vegan butter to the scooped out potato flesh and a heavy slash of dairy-free milk. Mash potatoes, adding more milk as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fill a pastry bag (with a star tip) with the mashed potatoes, set aside.
For the filling, heat olive oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrots and celery; cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened, then add the garlic and one teaspoon of course salt and cook for 5 minutes. Add the peas and cook until warmed through. Stir in the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and herbs and cook until liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine, cooking for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and cook until slightly thickened and nearly all liquid is absorbed. Stir in lentils and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat broiler and move oven rack to highest position. Fill each potato skin with the vegetable filling and top with either the shredded cheese or mashed potatoes (pipe or spoon and spread on the mashed potatoes). Place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and top edges of mashed potatoes are browned – be sure to watch carefully as they can go from just right to burnt very quickly.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and drizzle with balsamic syrup. Serve warm. Enjoy, slàinte!!