Hippy Recipe

Hippy as in "Peace, Love, Man". Not Hippy as in, adds more inches to your hips. That is a recipe I don't need. Anyway. So, I say it's "hippy" because it doesn't involve any meat and, in fact, you can make it vegan if you want and it will still taste good.

Tempeh Shepherds Pie. I love shepherd's pie - anything involving mashed potatoes is a friend of mine. It's inspired from a version I had at the Stone Brewery restaurant over here in San Diego (good beer, too). Last time I ordered it, I inspected it, to see what was doing in there, read the menu description a couple times so that I could try to recreate it. Of course, theirs is still better, but mine is pretty damn good for a civilian attempt. Even the Husband, who recoils from all things soy, likes it (brought it to work for lunch twice this week!).

Anyway, some of you are probably going: What the eff is Tempeh?

It's a fermented soy bean cake.

(above picture was five-finger discounted from wikipedia)

Don't run away screaming yet. Hold the phone.

It's not the most appetizing thing to look at, however the end result looks nothing like it. Tempeh is also a great source of protein with little fat and carries all the benefits of soy. It's sold at health food type stores; surprisingly, our local Trader Joe's doesn't carry it, but the other Whole Foods type stores do. Sells for $2.49 per 8-ounce package in my neck of the woods.

This recipe makes quite a bit - I end up using two white pyrex casserole dishes (can't remember the sizes of them)

Serves 8 or so.


2 8-ounce packages of tempeh
2 zucchini
1 pound of carrots
1 large onion (or 1.5 medium , or 2 smallish)
1 can of corn, or 1 ear of corn (or 2 ears - it's up to you)
3 pounds potatoes (for mashing, whatever potatoes, I guess Yukon Gold is the standard but I used Russet - cheaper)
Olive Oil (or Veg oil, whatever you have) for cooking the ingredients
Butter (or Margarine, for vegan)
Milk or Half and Half (or Soy milk/soy creamer for vegan)
16 to 24 ounces of Vegetable Stock (if you only have Chicken, or whatever, go for it, unless, of course, you don't eat meat)

[The above are the basics - the rest, are spices I used, and, the best results are through improvisation - throwing a bit of each in tasting the concoction, adding more, etc.]

Tomato paste (start with 1 tbsp, and if you decide you need more you can add - too much and it tastes a little to sweet, so, be careful with this one - my first attempt at the pie had too much - it was still good, but not what I was going for)
Worcestershire sauce
Soy sauce
Salt and Pepper
Chili Powder
Red Pepper Flakes
Garlic Powder
Cayenne Pepper
dried sage and/or thyme

Here we go.

Cut the tempeh into 1 inch cubes and pulse in a blender or food processor until it's crumbly (texture of cooked ground beef). I do this in two batches in a blender.
Finely chop the onions, carrots (peeled), zucchini. I suppose you could do this in a food processor, but I am not sure how (too lazy to figure it out). Probably is quicker though. If you're using fresh corn, cut the ear in half and cut the kernels off with a knife, length-wise down the cob.

Peel the potatoes, cut them into quarters. Put them in a large pot of water and boil until they are tender - 20-30 minutes. Don't wait until they are falling apart. Drain them when they are done.

Meanwhile, get A big-ass saute pan. I use a wok since I don't have a nice big saute pan. Works works great (I think I got mine at Costco or Target for like $20, or maybe less). Add oil to pan, maybe 2-3 tablespoons. Throw in the onions - cook them up for a bit, maybe 5 minutes, then add the carrots and zucchini (if you are using fresh corn add the corn, too). Cook until they are tender - taste it to make sure. You can add a bit of stock to loosen it up while cooking (add a little bit at a time if the veggies are sticking to the pan). Towards the end, if you are using canned corn, add the corn and mix with the veggies. When it's done, set aside in a large bowl for later.

Add a bit more oil to the wok and throw in the crumbled up tempeh. Add some stock a little at at time - the tempeh will soak it up. It shouldn't be sticking to the pan - if it does, either you need more stock or the heat is too high. The tempeh mixture can be a little bit wet (not runny or overly soupy). Here is where you improvise. Start throwing in the tomato paste, soy, worcestershire sauce and spices - little bit at a time, more stock if you need it, etc. Taste the mess you are making, add more stuff, repeat, until you deem it tasty enough. Me, I add a bunch of curry and cayenne - I like it a little spicy, but you may not, so do what you want with your tempeh. Tempeh takes maybe 10-15 minutes to cook and don't worry about exactness of cooking it - you're going to put it in the oven for more cooking anyway (plus, it's a vegetable product - no bacteria or parasitic issues like with pork, beef, chicken, etc). When it's done, combine the veggies and tempeh (either in a bowl or in the wok) - mix it all together.

Mash your potatoes - if they finish cooking while you're in the midst of your tempeh creation, just drain 'em and set aside until you are ready. Get a masher, a ricer, or a fork, throw the potatoes in a bowl, toss in some butter and milk (or soy milk, whatever), and go to town. Again, start with maybe 4 tablespoons of butter and a 1/2 a cup of milk and add from there until you get our desired "mashed potato consistency." Not an exact science. Just go with it.

Take your casserole dishes/pans, put the tempeh mixture at the bottom (divide evenly amongst however many dishes/pans you have - level it out with the back of a spoon (or whatever utensil you have handy). Spoon the potatoes on top, level them out. Sprinkle some paprika on top. If you want, you could add cheese here, it's up to you.

Throw it in the oven, uncovered, 350 degrees. Bake until the potatoes start to brown.

Voila! You are done. It takes a while, but it lasts me the whole week as lunch for work and the cost works out to be around $2 dollars a serving (depends on how expensive your materials are and if you are missing spices, etc).


  1. hmmm...i'll try anything once

  2. I actually thought you were serious about the Brains thing!!! Until I looked at your link...then I stopped gagging.

    I might try this. I'm curious if the boys would like it? They are still in the trying phase about a lot of foods...what's one more?

  3. I am going to try this because I am curious about tempeh and I have yet to put a meatless meal on the table.

    Does the "fermented" part freak you out a little bit? I won't tell the boys and see what they think.

  4. Okay, "brains!" was funny. Please feed me.

    Hey! You are my comment of the week. Congratulations.


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