Empty Crisper Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Here is a recipe that will wipe out your fridge of all vegetables. Like the kitchen sink veggie lasagna I made this summer, this shepherd's pie is a great way to use up all the random fall produce you may have hanging about your fridge and counters. Feel free to add in additional veggies (a layer of green beans would be nice or even some sauteed chard) or subtract ingredients (no more turnips left? A layer of plain mashers would be just as good!).

I have a warm spot in my heart for shepherd's pie. I studied abroad in Australia so I got very, very familiar with the meat pie (the hand-pies were my favorite). In fact, I was such a fan I came back a good 40 pounds heavier (a steady diet of Victoria Bitter beer and meat pies will do that to a gal) than when I left six months prior. I'll never forget the shock on my parent's faces or my mom's greeting of, "Oh, my, look at your arms!" when I stepped off the plane. I probably could have flown myself home with the wingspan on those guns. But I digress...

And though I still love a good traditional shepherd's pie, this veggie option is a nice quasi-diet food. I mean, geez, there are eight different vegetables in every serving, so have seconds! And yes, there is fat -- both from the coconut oil and butter, sour cream, and milk, but don't forget -- fat is your friend! When you're eating this many veggies, it helps your body process everything. No refined carbs, so go ahead and pig out!

Vegetarian Shepherd's pie

1 acorn squash, cut in half and scraped of seeds
1 large butternut squash or 2 small ones, cut in quarters and scraped of seeds
1 bunch fresh spinach, chopped
1 carton mushrooms, chopped
1 bunch turnips, chopped with greens reserved (cut those up too)
4-5 potatoes (any kind)
1 onion
2+ cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch carrots, scrubbed and with skins on, chopped
1 8 ounce block sharp cheddar cheese (I use Organic Valley), grated
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup milk
coconut oil (for roasting the squash and sauteing the greens and mushrooms)
salt/pepper (to taste)

First, roast your squash. For this, you can line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Coat the squash with a light layer of coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven on 400 degrees for 50 minutes or until tender.

When squash is cool, peel off squash skin and cut up into chunks. Set aside.

Here are my turnips from last week's box. For a second, I thought they were just giant radishes.

While the squash is roasting, boil the potatoes and turnips until tender.

Drain water and mash with a potato masher. Stir in milk, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Saute the onion in a bit of coconut oil until translucent. Throw in mushrooms and saute both until browned. Throw in the carrots and cook covered for a few minutes until carrots are tender. Lastly add in spinach and turnip greens and cook until greens are wilted.

Now it's time to layer. I used a large casserole dish for this so it was more like a vegetarian shepherd's lasaga than a pie. Start with the squash and press into bottom layer. Next layer your greens/mushroom, onion layer. Top this with a layer of cheese and finish with the mashed potato/turnip layer. Season well with salt and pepper. Bake covered at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Then take off the foil and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Serve hot