The inspiration for these little cottage pies came from twitter, believe it or not. I’m not so great at the whole twitter thing. I mean, I’m not technologically incompetent – I understand how it works and everything. It’s just there are only so many hours in the day and between instagram, email, Facebook and other real life things such as my job, boyfriend, exercise (ha!) and cooking I just don’t have space for another platform of social media.
Except that I do have a twitter account, and the other day I had a quick peek through and saw someone asking for tips for cooking child friendly meals during Veganuary. As someone who frequently cooks for children (in my job – I haven’t yet personally procreated) and knows a thing or two about vegan cookery I decided to weigh in with a few suggestions. Cottage pie and spag bol can easily be made with soy mince and my kids love potato skins. Afterwards I had the idea to combine a few of these and make cottage pies in potato skins.
Instead of using soy mince I made up a pie filling made up completely of vegetables, which makes these little fellows gluten free too. If you want to add some extra protein you could add in some cooked lentils or mashed beans but believe me when I say that they are certainly filling enough as they are. I had a dollop of houmous on the side of mine which is another option for a protein hit.
I bought a new food processor with some Christmas amazon vouchers (when do you become too old for relatives to buy you vouchers? – I hope never) so I tried out the Delia method of using the mini chopper to do all my knife work for me by dicing all the veg. I won’t lie, it made prepping all the veg a breeze. I don’t normally require my veg to be so finely diced, preferring a little more texture to food but for this it was great and saved me a fair bit of time and effort. So if you’re shy on time or just lazy like me I urge you to give it a go!
If you’re making this for children you may want to go easy on the chilli and cumin depending on their tastes. The children I cook for love a bit of heat and spice but they will also eat olives and capers and all kind of other strong flavours (thank goodness) but maybe go easy if yours aren’t as keen. You could sub out the cumin and chilli for paprika if you have it as that would add a nice warmth without being overpowering.
Do let me know on the comments how you get on or tag me on instagram #kindstateofmind. I’d love to hear what you think!
Mini Vegan Cottage Pies
Prep time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 85 mins
- Approx. 1 kg medium sized potatoes – I used the bigger ones from a mixed 1.5 kg bag
- 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1 small onion (red or white)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 small carrot
- 2 stalks of celery
- 1 courgette
- 250g any mushrooms (I used brown)
- small bunch of fresh thyme (or use dried)
- 250ml veg stock
- 3 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp vegan butter (I used Vitalite)
- 1-2 tbsp non-dairy milk if needed
- Preheat your oven to 200°C. Prick your potatoes and place on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 45mins-1 hour, until cooked through, dark brown and slightly crispy on the outside. You need the skins to be properly baked so they’re stable enough to scoop out the insides.
- While they’re baking you can make the cottage pie filling. I use a food processor to speed things up on the chopping front but no worries if you don’t have one/ can’t be bothered to get it out of the very back of the cupboard that it’s hiding in (seriously – this is a genuine consideration for me some days) you can just finely chop all of the veg instead. Process your onion and garlic until it is finely diced. Add the oil to a large frying pan over a medium heat. Place the onion and garlic into the oil along with the cumin and chilli. Cook gently for a few minutes.
- Next process the carrots and celery until finely diced and add to the saucepan and cook for 5 minutes, keeping everything moving.
- Lastly process the courgette and mushrooms, again until finely chopped and add to the saucepan. Cook for a few minutes before adding the tomato puree, veg stock and soy sauce. Give it all a stir and turn the heat down to low. Strip the leaves off the thyme and add to the mix along with some salt and pepper.
- Cook for 5-10 minutes until it is quite thick with only a little liquid left. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Put to one side.
- When the potatoes are done remove them from the oven and leave to cool slightly. Turn down the oven to 180°C.
- Slice the potatoes in half lengthways, across their widest point. Gently scoop out the cooked potato inside and place into a bowl, leaving a layer of potato around the baked skin. If you remove all of the potato then the skins can become a bit flimsy and might not hold their shape or the filling once refilled so you want to leave a little bit in them. Place the empty skins back onto the baking tray.
- Add the vegan butter to the cooked potato insides, season with salt and pepper and mash with a fork until smooth, adding a tablespoon or two of non-dairy milk if needed.
- Now you can make up the cottage pies, place a few spoons of filling into each potato skin and top with the mashed potato, using the back of a fork to draw lines over the top. Place into the oven and bake for 25 mins, until golden on top and heated through.
- You could pop some vegan cheese on top if you have any.
- The cottage pies can be reheated easily and would freeze well (freeze the filled skins before they are baked and add an extra 15 mins onto the cooking time.)