Here’s a tofu Shepherd’s pie that’s easy to make and so flavourful that everyone around the table will love it. It’s perfect for those looking for a hardy, meatless meal. It’s also a friendly intro to tofu, perfect for anyone new to cooking with or eating tofu.
Why Use Tofu?
We are a meat eating family that’s keen on adding more plant-based meals to our repertoire. When I look for meat alternatives I want them to be minimally processed, tasty, easy to use and easy to find in a regular grocery store. Sounds simple, right? Not necessarily. While the market is being inundated with plant-based alternatives, many are heavily processed with a long list of ingredients. I prefer less processed foods with simpler ingredient lists.
So for my version of vegetarian Shepherd’s pie, I chose tofu, a low processed, high quality plant protein that mimics the texture of meat and absorbs flavours easily. Tofu contains all nine essential amino acids and is a good plant source of iron, calcium and other minerals. It is made similar to how dairy cheese is made – by curdling fresh soya milk and then pressing it into a block.
Of course, there are tons of other great options for making a vegetarian Shepherd’s pie. You can use all veggies or some combination of veggies with lentils, peas, mushrooms, beans, nuts, jackfruit, TVP (textured vegetable proteins), buckwheat or other whole grains – use whatever works for you and what you have on hand.
I usually have a block of tofu in the freezer (yup, you can freeze it), so it’s always a convenient option when I want to make a meatless dish. I like that I can use the extra-frim tofu as cubes or as crumbles in this recipe.
What’s in a Name
Those of you who enjoy trivia, know that classic Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb or mutton, because shepherds herd sheep. The same dish made with beef is traditionally called cottage pie, while a meatless pie is sometimes referred to as Shepherdless pie. Fun fact.
To me the name Shepherd’s pie is less about the meat but of the mental picture that forms in my mind when I hear that term. I think of a savoury, saucy combo of meat and veggies topped with mashed potatoes. A vegetarian version replaces the meat with an alternate, but it’s still a tasty filling covered with mashed potatoes. In this case, I’m replacing the meat with Tofu, so I’m calling this dish Tofu Shepherd’s Pie. (Maybe it should be called soybean farmer pie?!)
Recipe for Tofu Shepherd’s Pie
Vegan Tofu Shepherd's Pie
- 1 block extra firm tofu 350 g/12.3 oz
- 1 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 med onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 3 med carrots, diced
- 2 cups chopped mushrooms 225g/8 oz
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 11/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup frozen corn niblets
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp paprika for garnish
- 4-6 cups mashed potatoes*
- 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped for garnish
- Remove tofu from package, squeeze out as much liquid as you can, then wrap in cotton towel and place heavy weight on top of wrapped block, let sit for 2 hours on counter or overnight in fridge.
- Cut tofu into1/2" pieces or crumble to resemble ground meat. Set aside.
- Heat oil in large, deep skillet.
- Saute onion until soft and clear, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute more.
- Add celery, carrots, mushrooms and tofu to pot and cook until soft, 7-10 minutes.
- Add oregano and thyme and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in tomato paste and flour. Mix well and cook 1 minute.
- Add wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape the bottom to release any browned bits.
- Gradually stir in broth and soy sauce and cook until smooth, thick sauce forms.
- Add corn, peas, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook until heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Grease a 9x13" (23x33cm) pan. Pour filling into pan.
- Top with mashed potatoes. The more rough the top, the more browned peaks you'll get.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are lightly golden and sauce bubbles up. For crispier potatoes, place under broiler for 2-3 minutes.
- Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and chopped parsley.
Variations to Tofu Shepherd’s Pie
As with all my cooking, I encourage you to use what you have, customize, get creative and make this recipe work for you. Here are just some of the ways you can change up this recipe:
- instead of cubing your tofu, crumble it to resemble ground meat
- use sweet potatoes for the topping
- add spinach or dark leafy greens to the filling
- bulk up the filling with more mushrooms, lentils or other veggies or beans
- sprinkle nutritional yeast on top of potatoes for umami flavour
- use frozen mixed veggies – any variety you have will work
Can You Freeze This Shepherd’s Pie?
There’s one key ingredient in this dish that doesn’t freeze well – the mashed potatoes. They tend to get watery and grainy when frozen, unless the potatoes are well coated in oil or some other fat when mashing. So, depending on how you make your mashed potatoes, you may or may not have good luck freezing this recipe.
Have you tried cooking with tofu? This is just one of several ways we’re enjoying and other meat alternatives. It’s fun to experiment and different flavours, textures and cooking methods. Let me know some of your favourites and if you try making this Tofu Shepherd’s pie. Leave a comment below or tag me on Instagram at #getgettys or Facebook @GettyStewart.HomeEconomist. I’d love to see or hear about your version.
Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist, speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.