Vegetarian Barley Shepherd's Pie

This vegetarian dish requires a lot of chopping but makes a large quantity and freezes well. I'm the only one who eats it in my house so the initial prep time is well worth the eight dinner-sized portions I end up with. For more protein, throw in a can of beans or a pound of cooked ground beef if you're not concerned with keeping it vegetarian. I topped mine with shredded cheddar and sliced avocado and it was absolutely lovely.

2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 cups (approximately) diced veg (I used: 1 onion, 3 carrots, 3 ribs celery, 1 golden beet, 1 parsnip, 1 turnip, and 8 white mushrooms) 
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce (omit or use vegan if you're cooking for strict vegetarians. Traditional Worcestershire Sauce contains anchovies.)
1 cup dry barley, prepared per package
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 cup veggie broth

Topping Ingredients
4 cups (approximately) peeled sweet potato chunks (I have no idea how to accurately quantify sweet potatoes. Telling you I used three sweet potatoes doesn't really do it. In my experience, sweet potatoes range in size from the size of a miniature banana to the size of a small baby. All I can tell you is this: I cut my sweet potatoes into walnut-sized chunks and I had about 4 cups)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
water and salt to boil
1/4 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 9x13 baking dish.

Cook barley per package instructions. Fluff and set aside.

Put sweet potatoes and 2 cloves chopped garlic in pot and cover with cold water. Add about a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover, and cook until fork tender. Drain. Mash with butter while still hot so the butter melts. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in large skillet. Sauté veg over med-high heat until onion is translucent and veg is tender, 7 - 10 minutes.

Add garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and Worcestershire Sauce and cook for another minute until garlic is fragrant. Stir in prepared barley, edamame, and broth. Spoon into baking dish and pat down gently.

Spread mashed sweet potatoes evenly over barley mixture.

Bake 20-30 minutes until heated through and topping is lightly browned.

Serves 8 as a main dish.