It only took near exactly 365 days. Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. Fifty-two weeks. Myriad daylights, sunsets, midnights, cups of coffee…however you want to measure.
But my brother has finally come around to the vegetarian thing.
And by that I mean, the last time I saw him (on my birthday) he only brought it up with disgust and disdain a mere less-than-ten times! That’s a world record for him. Usually we’re in the triple digits.
And…he bought me a vegetarian cookbook. A real one. With exactly zero meat in it.
Sure, it has the word “meat lover” in the title…but that is the only place where any animal products or references appear in the entire book.
I’m so proud.
To celebrate his transition from conscientious objector and disapprover to enabler extraordinaire…I obviously had to make something from the cookbook. (Positive reinforcement, etc.)
And since, last time I checked (i.e. a mere 24 hours ago) it was 30 degrees outside and still, in fact, winter (not that today’s weather reflects that….), I flipped open the cookbook to the “winter foods” section. Closed my eyes. And pointed.
(My recipe selection process is highly scientific and definitely not left up to chance at all ever.)
(Except for…all the time.)
Fate (and my pointer finger) led me to this shepherd’s pie with chard-lentil filling and I couldn’t be happier. The wine-braised lentil/swiss chard filling was tasty enough that you just don’t even think to miss the beef, and the mashed potato topping hit all those comfort food notes without being overly heavy.
And then there was the onion gravy. I could write an ode to that gravy. Even if you don’t make a single other component to this recipe…make that gravy and eat it while standing over the stove, straight out of the pan. All of it. In one sitting. And then do it again. That’s the highly scientifically proven right way to do it. I swear it.
I was on a first date this Saturday (!!!) (yes, there will be a second date) (yes, I’m smiling about it) when the guy I was out with asked me if I was obsessive about running. He’s a runner also, so I knew he meant it in a “are you the kind of runner who is going to have a total mental breakdown if you can’t get a run in during the week” kind of way and not a “do you love running with every ounce of passion in your soul” kind of way. Because if you’re a runner, the latter is kind of a given.
I said no. And I meant it. But only because I don’t not get runs in. I postpone runs. I reorganize my workout schedule to fit them in. I work them around the rest of my life. But they get done. Always.
To some, that may sound obsessive, but I think of it as dedication – I am dedicated to doing something good for myself every day. And I think once you consider it in that light. Once you take away the negative connotation of “obsession” and put a positive spin on it with “dedication”, it sounds more desirable. It makes you want to get out there and be passionate and dedicated about something in your life.
After all, who doesn’t want to have something they give their all to, something that they love, day in and day out? So tell me, what are you dedicated to? It doesn’t have to be healthy living related, just something that makes you happy!
The WINNER of the Saucy Mama mustard giveaway is VERONICA of Veronica’s Cornucopia! I’ll be emailing you for further details! Also, this is your LAST DAY to vote for my recipe in the contest so please head over and do so! You can vote once every day, so let’s all get one last chance vote in, shall we?
Shepherd’s Pie with Chard-Lentil Filling
Serves 6, adapted from The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
- 1/2 cup dried brown or green lentils
- 2 tbsp sherry or any red wine you enjoy
- 3/4 to 1 cup water
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp butter (I used Land O Lakes olive oil butter)
- 2 cups onions, sliced thinly into half moons
- 1 or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pinch of sugar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 recipe wine-braised lentils
- 1 recipe onion gravy
- 2 lb medium potatoes (I used yukon gold), quartered
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
- ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp almond milk or lowfat/skim milk
- 3 to 4 cups swiss chard (from 1 bunch), washed, stemmed and chopped/torn into ribbons
- 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
- For the lentils: in a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, carrot and thyme. Cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Add the lentils and stir to cook. Add the sherry or red wine and bring to a lively simmer. The wine will reduce a bit. Add 3/4 cup of the water. Return to a lively simmer, then lower the heat, cover and cook until fork tender, about 40 minutes. Add water as needed while cooking so that lentils don’t dry out completely. Stir in 1/4 tsp salt, taste, and add more salt if necessary.
- For the gravy: in a deep skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onions and thyme. Toss to coat the onions with the butter and cook over medium-low heat until softened, reduced, and jamlike, about 25 minutes.
- Add the balsamic vinegar, stir, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Add the water and bring to a lively simmer. Reduce by half, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook for an additional 5 minutes. The gravy will continue to reduce. Stir in the salt and sugar, and taste. Finish with soy sauce.
- For the pie: grease a 9-inch pie plate. Fill a medium-size sauce pan with 4 cups of water. Add the potatoes and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Add the whole garlic. Return the lid and cook until fork-tender, about 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes and garlic to a large mixing bowl and mash with a hand mixer. Stir in the reserved cooking liquid as necessary to moisten the potatoes. Add a bit of milk and stir in vigorously with a wooden spoon. Taste for salt, pepper, and texture and season and stir accordingly. Mashed potatoes should be smooth and well-seasoned.
- In a large skillet, spray with cooking spray and, over medium heat, cook the chard with the chopped garlic until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes, regularly tossing with the tongs to coat evenly. Stir in the nutmeg and season with more salt to taste. Transfer to a medium-size bowl.
- Stir the lentils into the chard.
- Assemble the pie: transfer the chard mixture to the greased pie plate. Top with the mashed potatoes and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Top with grated parmesan cheese.
- Place the dish in the oven and heat through, 20 to 25 minutes. During the final 2 minutes of cooking, set the oven to broil and brown the cheesy mashed potato topping. Remove from the oven, slice into wedges and eat hot with a ladleful of onion gravy.