Scrub and rinse the potatoes well and cut them into 1 inch pieces. Transfer them to a large pot and cover with cold water. Add 2 bay leaves and 4 cloves of the minced garlic and bring to a simmer. Season well with sea salt and cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and allow them to dry well in their own steam. Discard the bay leaves.Transfer back into the pot, drizzle with the olive oil, plant milk and nutritional yeast and mash until creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings with more sea salt. Add more plant milk and olive oil if a creamier consistency is desired. Set aside until needed.
Preheat your broiler. If you'd rather just bake this then preheat the oven to 350"F.
Make the Shepherd's Pie:
Preheat a cast iron medium pot over medium flame. Add half of the diced onion and a drizzle of olive oil or a splash of water and sauté with a pinch of sea salt for about 5 minutes until translucent. Stir in the carrots and cook another 5 to 10 minutes until they begin to soften.
Add 2 bay leaves, thyme leaves, whole cloves, chili pepper and garlic. Give everything a good stir then add the paprika, onion powder and flour. Stir again then whisk in the red wine and vegetable stock. Keep whisking until everything is smooth.
Bring the gravy to a simmer and cook on low flame for about 10 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened. Stir in the green peas and warm through. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste with sea salt.
Cook the Mushrooms:
Heat up a large skillet over medium low flame and add the remaining onion. Cook 5 minutes then stir in the mushrooms and a pinch of sea salt. Sauté until wilted and most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the cooked mushrooms to the pot with the gravy, stir and taste again. Allow the filling to cool off.
Assemble the Shepherd's Pie:
Spoon the mashed potatoes on top of the mushroom gravy and level them with the back of a spoon. Take a fork and create little tracks over the surface.
Transfer the Shepherd’s pie to the preheated broiler and broil for a few minutes until golden brown on top. Alternatively bake it in a preheated oven at 350"F for 25 minutes.Serve hot garnished with micro greens, chives or your favorite fresh herbs.
Substitutions - sub the mashed potato topping with mashed cauliflower, roasted butternut squash or sweet potato mash. Alternatively you could mix in some parsnips or parsley root with your olive oil mashed potatoes. The mushrooms can also be swapped for 2 cups of cooked French lentils or simply make this vegan Bolognese sauce instead and top with the mashed potatoes.
Prep in advance - Feel free to make your shepherds pie a day ahead and refrigerate it. It reheats well and you can warm it through in the oven at 350”F for 25 minutes. If you are after perfection make sure to also finish it under the broiler for a couple of minutes just enough to get those golden edges on the mashed potatoes. Any leftovers can be frozen in freezer safe containers for up to 4 months.
How to prevent the mashed potatoes from sinking into the filling? - Allow the filling to completely cool off first. Also make sure you cook down that sauce until extra thick.
WFPB and Plantricious - To make the recipe compliant make sure to omit the olive oil from the mashed potatoes and saute the onion and mushroom is splash of broth or water.