By Christine Hinrichs
When I studied abroad, I had the opportunity to visit a friend studying at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. With the exception of a pint of Guinness after the brewery tour, my only exposure to food in Ireland was at a sushi bar. Hardly a quintessential Irish dish! But when I think of classic, comfort food from across the Atlantic, I think of Shepherd’s Pie. Potatoes, vegetables, and meat, all cooked together into a delightfully warm and hearty meal. My version of Shepherd’s pie features mushrooms instead of meat, but it’s just as satisfying and flavorful! Serve your Shepherd’s Pie with some cabbage rolls as a side. These cabbage rolls feature many of the same ingredients as the Pie (making it easy on your prep time), but with the addition of tangy goat cheese, you’ll hardly even notice! These two dishes offer some unique twists on classic favorites, perfect for a St. Patrick’s Day dinner for two!
Adapted from Laura @ What’s For Dinner Mom
1 head of cabbage
1 ½ cups cooked, long grain rice (quinoa would be a great substitute)
2 carrots, diced small
2 celery stalks, diced small
2.5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce
1 tablespoon mushroom or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon red wine
Assemble the ingredients that will go into your cabbage rolls. Combine the carrot, celery, rice, goat cheese, and thyme. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Then add the beaten egg and stir to combine.
In a small sauce pan, heat the olive oil. Add your minced garlic and sauté briefly until fragerant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce, stock, and wine. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and allow to simmer covered until needed.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a handful of salt. Then using either two slotted spoons or a smaller mesh sieve (worked great!) add in the whole cabbage. Rotate it in the water until the first few leaves become soft, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the hot water carefully using the sieve or spoons. Carefully peel off the layer of soft leaves; you should get about 3-4 before it starts to get a little more firm. Return the cabbage to the hot water and repeat this process until you have 6-8 cabbage leaves.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. On a cutting board or your counter tops, begin to assemble the cabbage rolls. Cut the hard ribs off the cabbage leaves so you don’t break your rolls. Then put about ¼ cup of the rice mixture onto the cabbage leaf, near the top. Fold the leaf over and tuck in the sides. Then roll. Repeat until you have 6-8 cabbage rolls.
Place the rolls in a baking dish, seam side down. Cover with the warm tomato sauce. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
Adapted from Food Network
2 medium-sized russet potatoes, peeled and in large dice
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces of cremini mushrooms, stemmed, wiped clean, and sliced
1/4 onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup mushroom stock
1/4 cup red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
In a large pot, place the diced potatoes and cover with water. Salt the water liberally and bring to a boil. Boil the potatoes until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain and return to the cooking pot. Add a tablespoon of butter and the milk and mash until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside (or do this during the remaining cooking).
In a large sauce pan or dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of butter until melted. Add in the mushrooms and cook until browned, stirring infrequently. About 5 minutes. Once browned, remove from pan and season with salt and pepper.
Return the pan to medium heat and add another tablespoon of butter. Add the onion, celery, and garlic, cooking until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the carrot and herbs, cooking again until softened, another 5 minutes.
Whisk together the mushroom stock, red wine, and tomato paste. Add the mixture to the vegetables in the pan to deglaze, using a spoon to scrape up the cooked bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the liquid to a simmer and allow to cook until slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms back into the pan and cook until the mixture has reduced and thickened, about 8 minutes. Taste for seasonings.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a small baking dish, pour the vegetable mixture. Dot the top of the veggies with the mashed potatoes, using a spoon (or your hands!) to smooth the potatoes over the top of the dish, sealing the edges as best you can. Then pinch the mashed potato topping in spots to create texture, which will help the potatoes get browned and crisp. Bake for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are a bit browned.
Christine Hinrichs is a vegetarian who loves everything related to food. She daydreams about recipes, frequents the local farmers’ markets, and reads cookbooks before bed. Read about her food adventures at ruminationsonfood.blogspot.com.