As far as religious holidays go, I would say I’m always down for the count. Take Ramadan for instance; as difficult as I found fasting this year, there’s just something undeniably wonderful about the spirit of togetherness that it brings. The calm and peaceful serenity of a slower pace, breaking fast with family every day over deliciously nourishing meals, and spending time with friends until late hours of the night. I’m of course, quite partial to Eid Al Fitr as well – because well, who doesn’t love a holiday that marks the end of 30 days of fasting.
Eid Al Adha however, is becoming more and more difficult for me with each passing year. A year ago I shared my musings on the act of sacrifice from a vegan perspective, and it’s safe to say that I staunchly maintain my stance on disagreeing with the need to sacrifice a living being in the name of religion. Moreover, I’ve found myself becoming increasingly uncomfortable being around excessive amounts of meat at the dinner table, even on a daily basis when dining with friends and family. Those two factors combined meant that I was hardly looking forward to the annual feast held at my uncle’s house on the first day of Eid, so much so that I was even considering opting out of attending.
I grappled with these thoughts in my head for some time, before finally taking a step back to see the situation for what it was. I have a great deal of love and respect for my family – and I cannot judge them for their beliefs or practices, just as I expect them not to pass judgement on my choice not to partake in said practices. Instead of alienating myself (something I promised I would never allow my veganism to do) I set out to make a delicious vegan meal that I could savor and enjoy in the company of my family.
The dish of choice was my take on a Shepherd’s Pie – while I didn’t expect anyone else to pick up on it, it was my silent ode and tribute to the countless sheep and other livestock who had been sacrificed that very day.
- 2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
- 2 medium onions finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- ½ cup celery finely sliced
- 1 medium carrot peeled and finely diced
- 1 cup tomatoes finely chopped
- ½ cup tomato puree
- 3 cups brown lentils cooked, no salt
- 1 tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos (OR Soy sauce, Tamari or Nama Shoyu)
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley and basil chopped
- ½ cup kale
- 2 tbsp soy milk unsweetened
- 1 tbsp garlic and herb salt-free seasoning Mrs. Dash brand
- 1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock Kallo brand
- Start by steaming your vegetables - put the sweet potato on medium heat and allow to cook for around 15 minutes.
- Pulse the onions in a food processor with the garlic and set aside. Slice the celery and dice the carrots into small cubes, then add the onions, celery and carrots to a large skillet with 2 tbsp of vegetable stock on medium heat and allow to soften.
- Add the lentils to the pan and mix thoroughly. Feel free to add another tbsp or two of vegetable stock if you notice things drying up. Allow the lentils and veggies to cook together for 3-5 minutes and pre-heat your oven to 175 C/350 F in the meantime.
- Add in the tomatoes and tomato puree along with the basil, parsley, kale and Bragg's liquid aminos. Season with black pepper and salt-free seasoning to taste and then lower the heat, cover and allow the filling to simmer for around 10 minutes.
- In a small food processor or using a fork, mash the sweet potatoes with 2 tbsp of soy milk until light and fluffy.
- Now to assemble! Layer the lentil filing in a medium sized oven-safe pan and top with a layer of sweet potatoes. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the top is slightly browned and the filling is bubbling.
I made fresh tomato puree by just blending some tomatoes in a tiny bit of water but you could also grate a tomato flesh side down in a box grater for the same results. Canned tomatoes can also be used but I prefer to avoid them because of the added salt and sugar.
I can’t even begin to explain how deliciously hearty and satisfying this dish is. The vegetable and lentil medley is bursting with savory flavors that contrast splendidly with the sweet and creamy potato mash on top.
I should note that this recipe is intended to be low-sodium and relatively oil-free (there is some oil in the vegetable stock), but you can easily adapt it by adding sea salt to taste as needed and sautéing the vegetables in some coconut oil instead. That said, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how flavourful the filling is on account of the fresh herbs, spices and Bragg’s liquid aminos. Sometimes a little goes a long way and I personally love how the vibrant flavours of the vegetables really shine through.
Served alongside a delightful massaged kale and apple salad (recipe to come) – it was the perfect Eid lunch. It even garnered some attention from fellow diners who wanted to know “what’s that weird orange thing you’re eating?”
Until next time, dear readers. Wishing you a wonderful Eid Al Adha Mubarak to those who celebrate!