Mains Recipes

Alsatian Shepherd’s Pie

When my mom asked me what I wanted for dinner when I was a child, my answer would often be ‘Elsässer Hackfleischtopf’. This translates to something like ‘Alsatian minced meat pot’, although I can’t remember it ever containing real meat, at least not the way my mother made it. I was vegetarian at the time, so my mother used tofu instead of meat.

It was one of my favorite meals because it was hearty and creamy thanks to a generous side of mashed potatoes. And it featured sauerkraut, which I honestly don’t eat all that much, but actually like a lot – especially combined with a bolognese-style sauce like the one featured here.

Instead of making this dish a casserole and serving it with mashed potatoes, I went for the easier (and even yummier!) version – simply making it all in one dish that is started on the stove-top and baked in the same pan in the oven. This is how this Alsatian Shepherd’s Pie was created. And it’s so good – I could eat it pretty much every day!


If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet or otherwise oven-safe frying pan, don’t sweat it – just make the bolognese, transfer it to an oven-safe dish and top with the mashed potatoes.

I don’t actually know what makes this dish ‘Alsatian’ (I’m guessing the ‘meat’, the potatoes and carrots, plus red wine), but to make it a little more so in any case, I added the classic Quatre Épices, or four spices. It’s a traditional French spice mix containing pepper, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Except I used regular pepper instead of white pepper, and allspice instead of the (similar) cloves.


Alsatian Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 2-4

For the tofu:

  • 2 blocks tofu
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, shredded
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 + 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 400 g sauerkraut

For the mashed potatoes:

  • 800 g potatoes
  • 1/8 cup + 1 tablespoon vegan butter
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons plant-based milk (like soy milk)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional but recommended)


  1. Cut the potatoes into pieces of about 1,5 cm or roughly 0.6 inches. Put them in a pot and cover with salted water. Cook for about 15 minutes or until fork-tender.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180° C/350° F.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, pre-heat a cast-iron skillet or other frying pan. Add the oil. Press the liquid out of the tofu with your hands and crumble the tofu into little pieces directly into the pan. Sauté on medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until the tofu is lightly browned.
  4. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes more.
  5. Add garlic, thyme, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and pepper along with the tomato paste, red wine, and shredded carrot. Simmer for a few more minutes before adding the sauerkraut. No need to mix too throughly.
  6. When the potatoes are done, drain them and mash them with the vegan butter, plant-based milk, salt, nutmeg, and nutritional yeast until fluffy.
  7. If using an oven-safe pan, put the mashed potatoes on top of the tofu mixture and spread it out evenly. If not, transfer the tofu mixture to a casserole dish first.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the mashed potatoes are lightly browned. Enjoy!

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