After the holidays, we had a lot of left over Garlic-Rosemary Mashed Potatoes so a Shepherd’s Pie was in order! But not just any Shepherd’s Pie, a meatless pie filled with yummy vegetables and a surprise ingredient; roasted Watermelon Radishes! The Watermelon radish, also known as Roseheart or Red Meat radish, is an heirloom Chinese Daikon radish called Shinrimei. It is a member of the Brassica (mustard) family along with arugula, broccoli and turnips. Watermelon radishes are edible globular roots attached to thin stems and wavy green leaves. They do not actually taste like watermelon. Instead, the flesh, which is green around the exterior with a deep pink to bright red center, bears quite a resemblance to its namesake. They are larger than regular radishes and can range in size from a golf ball to roughly a softball. They’re firm and crisp with a mild taste that’s a blend of slightly peppery and slightly sweet. They can be eaten both raw and cooked. For this application, I peeled, diced, and roasted them in the oven. If you cannot find any watermelon radishes, use another root vegetable instead, like turnips or parsnips, or be radical and use regular radishes or daikons.
Shepherd’s Pie is one of those casseroles that you see in the dictionary next to comfort food. The basic recipe is ground meat (usually lamb or beef) in gravy with vegetables (peas and carrots or corn) topped with a layer of mashed potatoes and then melted cheese. Why mess with that you ask? Well, in my efforts to move to a more plant based diet I am revisiting some of my favorite dishes and seeing what would happen if I made them as a vegetarian or even a vegan dish. This one is vegetarian as I did use some unsalted butter in my mashed potatoes, but it could easily go vegan if you replace the butter with Earth Balance or your own home made vegan butter. No one seemed to notice that there was no meat in the dish and it was very filling.
Once I had those beauties peeled and diced it was a simple matter of spreading them loosely in a baking pan, a spritz of coconut oil and a dash of sea salt and into a 400º oven for about 20 minutes (I tossed them after the first 10 minutes.) I precooked these as well as the crimini mushrooms and red onions which were all going in fresh. The lima beans and sweet corn were both frozen, so a light roasting helped develop the flavor of this amazing radish. While the radishes roasted I sauteed diced red onion with fresh Crimini mushroom slices, added Morningstar Farms Grillers Crumbles and then finally the roasted radishes. They brought a touch of earthy sweetness to the mix that was truly special.
I set this aside to make a sauce or gravy using some vegetable stock which I find to be more flavorful than vegetable broth. I poured one cup of stock into a measuring cup and stirred in some gluten-free flour until it dissolved. The rest of the stock went into my sauce pot, once it was hot, I stirred in the stock with GF flour. I let the pot come to a boil, stirring continuously as it thickened, then lowered the heat and seasoned it with some black pepper, sea salt, roast garlic powder, herbs de provence, and some sweet red wine and let it simmer for a bit to deepen the flavors. I also added a pinch of instant coffee to darken the color like my grandma showed me, not too much, just a pinch.The next step was to stir the radish crumble mix into the gravy to blend it all together. With this done, I could now begin building the lovely layers!
The gravy layer is the first to go down in the baking dish, I use a 13×9 lasagna pan for this because well, I like to make a lot of it. Servings for four plus seconds or if we are being good, leftovers for another day. Anyway, I poured the gravy mixture in the pan and topped that with frozen Lima beans and sweet corn. Next I spread my left over mashed potatoes (50/50 Idaho potatoes with Yukon Gold potatoes cubed and boiled in vegetable broth, mashed with some unsalted butter, almond milk and a little bit of the broth stirred in to thin it. Seasoned with sea salt, black pepper, roasted garlic powder and fresh minced rosemary leaves.) Once the mashed potato “crust” is in place – I top it generously with an organic no-salt seasoning I found at Costco that I am seriously in love with. No cheese! I am living cheese free and while it was rough to start, I am actually just fine and loving it.
Pop that bad boy in a 350º F oven for about 45 minutes (my oven was multitasking, I baked a green bean casserole at the same time – so perhaps if it was in the oven alone, it may only need 35 minutes.) Let it set up for at least 5-10 minutes before you serve it. It comes out of the oven all golden and the top has a nice crust. It really is such a hearty, comforting dish and very filling, so yeah, we were good and have four more servings in the freezer for future use.
- Four Watermelon Radishes, peeled and diced
- Coconut Oil Cooking spray
- 1 8oz pkg Crimini or Baby Portabella Mushrooms, sliced
- 1 medium Red Onion, diced
- 1 pkg. Morningstar Farms Grillers Crumbles or other brand of veggie crumbles
- 1 C Frozen Lima Beans
- 1 C Frozen Sweet Corn
- 6 C leftover Mashed Potatoes (Idaho/Yukon Gold potatoes cooked in broth mashed with butter, Almond Milk, Broth, Salt, Pepper, Garlic powder, & Fresh Minced Rosemary)
- 2 T Gluten-free Flour (you can use regular if you wish)
- 2 C Vegetable Stock
- 1/4 C Madeira or another Sweet Red Wine
- Sea Salt to taste
- ½ tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Roast Garlic Powder
- ½ T Herbs de Provence
- 1 Pinch Instant Coffee (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400º F
- Peel and dice the radishes or other root vegetable and scatter it in a baking pan. Spritz with coconut oil or other cooking spray and a pinch of sea salt. Roast in the oven 10 minutes, give the pan a shake or two and put it back in for another 10 minutes. Set the pan on the back burner of your stove and lower the oven to 350º while you work on the rest.
- Saute the onions and mushrooms until tender and then stir in the vegetable crumbles and cook until they are fully defrosted.
- Stir in the radishes and lower the heat to low just to keep it warm while you make the gravy.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of GF flour into 1 cold cup of stock until it dissolves.
- In a sauce pan, heat the other cup of stock, once hot, stir in the cup of stock with flour and let that come to a boil, stirring constantly as it thickens.
- Lower the heat and add a pinch (not too much) of instant coffee to darken the color (optional)
- Season the gravy with sea salt, black pepper, roast or regular garlic powder, Herbs de Provence and Madeira or Sweet Red Wine and allow it to simmer to deepen the flavors.
- Stir the radish crumble mixture into the gravy and pour it into a 13×9 baking dish
- Top the gravy with mixed frozen Lima Beans and Sweet Corn.
- Spread the mashed potatoes over the beans and corn.
- Top with No Salt seasoning and bake in a 350º F oven for 35-45 minutes depending on your oven.
- Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving to allow it to set up and making serving easier.