Golden Vegan Shepherdess Pie

by Maria Theresa Maggi on December 18, 2014


Golden Vegan Shepherdess Pie 2

The Winter Solstice is my favorite holiday. There’s so much incipient hope in the turning of our earth back toward the light on the longest night of the year. I also adore that “solstice” literally means “standing still.” As the sun seems to change direction it hangs, seemingly stationary in the sky, for the days in between Solstice and Christmas. So perfect how the ancients and then the Christians made note of this most essential of all turnings. And if you’re in the southern hemisphere, you’re experiencing the turning toward winter at Summer Solstice. Nevertheless, you can celebrate that with something golden too, even if it isn’t a cooked Shepherdess Pie.

Sometimes I think I should call my blog Happy Accident. So many of the dishes I share with you come out of serendipitous all-of-a-sudden and what-if–and when I’m not worrying about how something is going to come out.

There are plenty of good vegan shepherd pie recipes out there. Two of my favorites are Susan’s Skillet Gardener’s Pie and Nava’s Hearty Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie, which both use a mashed potato topping. I love mashed potatoes almost as much as the most die-hard potato lover over at the McDougall site, but I confess I love winter squash even more. So I’m always looking for ways to use it in my food. Especially if someone has given me a big beauty from the garden and I’m all by myself.

Thanks to Anne Esselstyn and the recipes in Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (the first book), I learned that adding cooked butternut squash to mash potatoes makes a great twice baked potato. That’s all the encouragement I’ve needed to place my toes on the edge of the diving board and go head first into trying squash as a topping for this Shepherdess Pie.

I knew something meaty like butternut squash would work well paired with potatoes, but what about spaghetti squash? I had a whole big one to use up. It’s lighter than potatoes or other winter squash but then I remembered how good it is as a layer in Susan’s Spaghetti Squash and Pesto Lasagna. It’s only a hop, skip and a jump to put it on the top instead of on the bottom and the middle, so I jumped (hopping and skipping first, of course) at the chance to try it.

I wanted a light and bright casserole to cheer up these dark, short days. I had a lot of white vegetables on hand and some baby lima beans to try. And I wanted a light sauce. I wasn’t disappointed with any of the results. I took some photos, half-heartedly thinking they would not turn out, but they are okay enough that I can share this as another easy holiday strategy with you for a hearty and pretty meal that comes together easily and that is as cheerful as the sun breaking through the clouds on a winter afternoon. I’m so glad this golden opportunity really did bake up golden.

I’ll give you the basic strategy so you can play with whatever ingredients appeal to you or what you have on hand.


A long time ago one of Mike’s friends went home after hearing me talk about the Solstice and told his Mom he wanted their family to celebrate it. She told me she said okay and “just made a lot of yellow food.” We laughed, but actually I think eating food the color of the sun-colored food is a fine way to honor the sunlight and also the light of spirit we need to see our world through dark times. A sense of play is gold when it comes to riding out the dark. And not just when it comes to food.

Last Spring I found Β this globe on the lawn outside an apartment building the week all the students leave for the summer. Someone had either forgotten to stick it in the back of the car, or, more likely, tossed it. It was fun to save a world. And now, at Winter Solstice, it seems to me our world needs to be wrapped in light. So that is just what I did.

globe wrapped in light

Happy Winter, my friends. I’ll check back in next week with a fun Christmas treat. Or maybe two. πŸ™‚

Maria (moonwatcher)




Leave a Comment

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Susan Voisin December 19, 2014 at 11:33 am

Saving the world one plant-based recipe at a time–that’s you, Maria! This looks delicious. Happy Winter Solstice to you!


2 moonwatcher December 19, 2014 at 1:17 pm

Haha–Yes! And a heartfelt thanks to you, Susan, for building my inner crusader a platform from which to speak. πŸ™‚ It’s a gift I treasure every day. Happy Winter Solstice back to you! πŸ™‚


3 Jodi Ellis December 19, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Hi Maria,
I got to your blog post via your facebook page. I wanted to tell you that I so enjoy reading your blog! Your recipes are divine as well πŸ™‚

I can’t agree more that our world needs to be wrapped in light with the coming of this Winter Solstice celebration.



4 moonwatcher December 19, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Welcome Jodi! Thanks so much for your kind words and for letting me know you are enjoying the blog. Solstice blessings back to you. πŸ™‚



5 Nicole O'Shea December 19, 2014 at 12:29 pm


OK, I’ve calmed down a bit.

Thank you for wrapping the world in light! We needed you to help out <3

I love the idea of yellow food for the Solstice. I often think about how we are literally eating sunlight whenever we eat plants. (And breathing out our fat when we lose weight, but that is way less lyrical, lol)




6 moonwatcher December 19, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Amen Sister! This is the season for shouting excitement from the rooftops so you go! So happy you are happy you can eat this one! I, too, love to think about how we are literally eating sunlight when we eat plants. I agree about breathing out the fat being a less lyrical process, but ah well, whatever works. πŸ™‚ xoxoxo


7 Pam December 19, 2014 at 2:06 pm

I love that you’ve named it “Shepherdess” pie! I also love the idea of something other than potatoes for a topping! Thanks for herding us along this plant based path with your words and recipes! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚


8 Nicole O'Shea December 19, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Good looking out, Pam! I agree – “Shepherdess” pie rules!


9 moonwatcher December 19, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Thanks Nicole! πŸ™‚


10 moonwatcher December 19, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Thanks Pam! I’m glad that delighted you. πŸ™‚ And here’s to alternative toppings as well! πŸ™‚ And you are very welcome! πŸ™‚


11 Veronica December 19, 2014 at 2:41 pm

I’ve never celebrated the solstice, but perhaps I should. This looks filling and tasty, and a good way to use spaghetti squash, which I never really know what to do with.
Thanks for sharing, and I wish you warm, happy holidays. xoxo


12 moonwatcher December 19, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Hi Veronica, well I guess we’re just a bunch of pagan nature lovers up here in the wild north.:) I’ve got a strong streak of that in my eclectic way of worship. πŸ™‚ I’m glad to give you an idea for what to do with spaghetti squash, too. I wish you and yours a warm, happy holiday, and tender care in this time of big change. xoxo


13 Rose W December 21, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Spaghetti squash can be topped with any sauce you would use with pasta. I usually top it with simple marinara and add lots of mushrooms for extra texture.
Solstice blessings.


14 moonwatcher December 21, 2014 at 6:42 pm

That sounds good too, Rose. Solstice blessings back to you. πŸ™‚


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