June/July 2019MAIN STORY

Pie-in-the-sky Shabbat


By Ethel G. Hofman, JNS.org

There’s also no commandment that says chicken soup and roast chicken must be served on Shabbat. In fact, for many, meat has been completely replaced, with vegan dishes making center-stage on Friday-night tables.

On the island north of Scotland where I grew up, fish was fresh and abundant. We ate it every night — from gefilte fish and crisp oatmeal herring to the ubiquitous fish and chips, all homemade. My mother cooked up fish in a score of different ways, her Ashkenazi cuisine marrying deliciously into her neighbors’ Scottish recipes. Varieties such as herring, haddock, sole and halibut was dished up in a matter of hours, so fresh that the tails curled up.

But on cool-weather Shabbats or when the family craved comfort food, she prepared Shepherd’s Pie, bubbling and enticing from the oven. Ground lamb stew studded generously with root vegetables, seasoned with plenty of onions and crowned with clouds of mashed potatoes, it not only was a glorious dish but a thrifty one as well. And it could be prepared early in the day and then reheated before dinner time.

It’s said that Shepherd’s Pie originated in Scotland (makes sense). Root vegetables and potatoes were cheap, and it wasn’t uncommon for families to slaughter a lamb, and salt and wind-dry it to store over the winter. If the dish is made with another meat, such as beef and a pastry crust, replacing the potatoes, it’s referred to as Cottage Pie.

My mantra, as always, is to make the preparation easy. Use your freezer. Frozen items like veggies and fruits are nutrient-rich and sometimes even better than fresh, which may have been trucked in over days from miles away. As for meats, when on sale, stock up your freezer and save.

Shabbat Shalom!


Shepherd’s Pie (Meat)

Serves 4-6


Cook’s Tips

Ground-beef or mixture of beef and turkey may be used instead of turkey.

Use store-bought pareve mashed potatoes or make your own; 3 cups mashed potatoes, moistened with 2 tablespoons melted pareve margarine or non-dairy creamer.

Correct seasonings? It just means season to taste.



1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 pound ground turkey

1/4 cup frozen chopped onion

11/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

1 (8 oz.) can stems and pieces mushrooms, drained

1 rounded tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/3 cup ketchup

1/2 teaspoon chopped bottled garlic

1/2 teaspoon each salt and fresh ground pepper or to taste

3-4 cups mashed potatoes



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add turkey and onion. Cook over medium high heat, stirring often, until no pink in turkey remains.
  3. Add all remaining ingredients, except the mashed potatoes.
  4. Cook over medium heat, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Correct seasonings.
  5. Transfer to a 2-quart ovenproof casserole dish. Spoon mashed potatoes over top, roughing with a fork.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven 20 to 30 minutes, or until meat mixture is bubbling and potatoes beginning to brown.
  7. Serve hot with a crunchy salad.


Vegan Shepherd’s Pie (Pareve)

Serves 4-6


Cook’s Tips

Fresh sliced leeks and cubed butternut squash are available in markets.

If using whole leeks, separate leaves and wash well in cold water.

Vacuum-packed, precooked lentils are available in markets.



3 cups cubed butternut squash

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 cup sliced leeks

2 1/2 cups cooked lentils

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained

1/2 cup vegan tomato purée

1 teaspoon dried thyme

3/4 teaspoon dried basil, divided

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste



  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the leeks. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often, until leeks are softened.
  4. Add the lentils, mixed vegetables, tomato purée, thyme and ½ teaspoon basil. Stir to mix. Transfer to a 2-quart ovenproof casserole dish. Set aside.
  5. Place squash in a microwave dish. Cook for 7 minutes on High, or until squash is tender.
  6. Spoon over the lentil mixture. Sprinkle with remaining basil.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until lentil mixture is bubbly. Serve hot.

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