I don’t know if people that are new to raw vegan concept notice how many raw vegan dishes have been created to mimic the dishes from main stream cuisines; pasta, pizza, tacos, etc. I guess it is partially because  the familiarity of dishes that most of us grew up with makes the whole process of switching to new and unknown less dramatic, and partially because out of creativity. But I know for sure that most raw vegans go through the phase of faking the real thing.

Don’t get me wrong: I love zucchini pasta and cashew sour cream, and I am a big fan of creativity. Moreover, who said that when we say milk, we should think of milk that comes from animals? After all almond milk has been used by French cooks as far back as XV century.

With time though I came to realize that it will be even more creative if new dishes are developed without trying to make something taste exactly like it tastes in different cuisine–although mashed “potatoes” made from cauliflower/cashews or celery roots (there are many more other variations out there) might look like a “real thing”, they still don’t taste like mashed potatoes made from potatoes, and the main reason for it being, I assume,  that potatoes are starchy vegetables while cauliflower and celery roots aren’t.

Having said that, I am still, from time to time, inspired to create take-ons on classical dishes. What appeals most to me in the process is intensive creative thinking that is necessary in order to come up with dishes that, at least, look similar to well-known dishes, and at their best taste even better. Also, let’s be honest, it is still nice to receive bewildered looks of my non-vegan friends when they see my creations and realize that except for the name those dishes have nothing to do with the “original”.

So today, I want to share with you my take-on Shepherd’s Pie.

I have partially used the recipe from Rene Underkoffler “Living Cuisine”. I have used the “mashed potatoes” part from it, and some ingredients for “grounded beef” layer, but on whole it is a different recipe.

I won’t provide exact amounts for “grounded beef” because I rarely follow exact recipes myself. I think as long as one understands the essence, so to speak, of ingredients s/he is working with and the theory of combining 5 tastes (sweet, sour, salt, spicy, bitter) in order to create harmony to tickle taste buds, it is possible to deviate from any recipe and adjust it along the way (the exception will pastry art which requires precise ratios). Speaking metaphorically, I think it is better to learn how to make new tools than be giving them and depend on a “tool maker”. Nevertheless, if you need advice and tips, please feel free to contact me for further clarifications.

As for “mashed potatoes” layer I will use recipe provided by Rene using cauliflower. It is not strictly raw though since cauliflower is slightly steamed which helps to create the creaminess. Also I have learned that it is next to impossible to find raw cashews since most of them are being treated with high temperatures in order to shell them.

Feel free to use other raw vegan “mashed potatoes” recipes you can find online. For instance, Chef Tina Jo has an interesting recipe using celery root. I haven’t tried it yet since I didn’t incorporate Irish moss in the arsenal of ingredients I use yet, but it sounds fantastic to me.

I like cauliflower and cashew version very much, and all friends that tried it have been very pleased with the richness and creaminess of it.

With any further delay, here it goes. Beautiful, satisfying and dear-to-our-hearts Shepherd’s Pie.

Cauliflower Layer (“Living Cuisine” Rene Underkoffler”)

2 cups of slightly steamed cauliflower florets

1 cup of soaked cashews

1 cup of chopped peeled zucchini

2 Tbs of light miso paste

3 Tbs of olive oil

1 clove of minced garlic

1 Tbs of chopped rosemary

Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste

Salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients, except for herbs, in a powerful blender and blend until it is creamy. Add water if necessary to help the process, but don’t add too much since the mixture shouldn’t be runny in order to hold shape of a top “mashed potatoes” layer of the pie. Taste along the way and adjust amount of lemon juice and salt.

Mix in minced herbs.

“Ground Beef” Layer

Sunflower seeds, soaked for at least 2 hours

Sun-dried tomatoes, soaked for at least 1 hour


Cumin, freshly ground

Coriander, freshly ground

Cayenne pepper

Olive oil


Sea salt

Green Onions, chopped

Cilantro, chopped

Green peas (or corn), thawed if using frozen

Carrots, shredded

Red onion, minced

Parsley, chopped

Garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients except for green peas, carrots, red onion, parsley and garlic. Blend in a food processor, leaving it slightly chunky. Taste, adjust seasoning. Add the remaining ingredients and mix.

Spread on nonstick drying sheets, forming a rectangular loaf 4 cm thick. Dehydrate for 4 hours at 115 F or until the loaf is dry to the touch. Transfer the loaf from the nonstick drying sheet and place directly on the shelf. Dehydrate for another 4 hours or so to dry the bottom of the loaf as well.

You can skip dehydrating bottom “ground beef” layer if pressed for time. In this case use a casserole dish and spread the mixture in the bottom of it. I, personally, prefer dehydrate version since the flavors have time to marry while dehydrating and become more robust.

Spread the cauliflower layer on top. Smooth with a rubber spatula. Garnish by dusting paprika on top and freshly black pepper.

The Shepherd’s Pie can served warm if warmed in the dehydrator at 105 F for 1-2 hours before serving.

It keeps well in the fridge for at least 4 to 5 days. I had instances when I ate it 2 weeks later, and it was still delicious.


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One Response to “Shepherd’s Pie”

  1. Chauna Says:

    Hi Olya, I am a newbie and would love to get more direction on the amounts/measurements for the bottom layer (ground beef). It looks really awesome and I cant wait to try it!

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