In need of a vegan shepherd's pie that taste like that epic one your mum used to make, minus the meat?! You're in the right place. This is the perfect no-fuss, winter's evening, dinner, like a big warm hug, wrapped in a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa. Proper comfort food!
I’m working hard to create vegan recipes to help eradicate meat from my diet. This one is another resounding success. I love this recipe. It’s crammed with nostalgia and as near to the meat-laden shepherd’s pie as I think you’ll get. I know I say 'comfort food' a lot around here these days, but these times called for comfort food! A lot of it. That's exactly what this dish is.
As much as I ADORE eating my feelings, I’m very much ready to stop eating comfort food as much, for the sun to shine, not to have to wear heavy knits and hoodies 24/ 7 - to enjoy being outside rather than legging it to and from the shop before I either catch a chill or get soaked. BRING ON THE GREAT BRITISH SUMMER that’s what I say!
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The Nostalgia of The Shepherd's Pie
Back to the matter at hand, the shepherd's pie I grew up eating was lamb mince, a couple of diced carrots, a handful of peas, maybe an onion and a load of Worcestershire sauce smothered in lumpy (sorry mum) mashed potatoes. On the better weeks, there would be loads and loads of cheese grated into the mash. I've got to be honest. I don't think I appreciated it much back then. It didn't have anything on chicken nugs, chips and beans, you know?
At the start of ye olde corona pandemic, I partook in a little bit of stocking up, because everyone else was doing it and I love a bandwagon. I didn’t go for the trendy stuff like toilet roll though, oh no, I headed to the independent supermarkets on Brick Lane and got the good stuff - lentils, rice and spices. Smart. Well, kind of - thankfully we’ve got a reasonably big pantry because we’ve barely touched them.
In case you're wondering, the point of that story is that I have A LOT of red lentils kicking about, and today we're going to use a small percentage of them as the "meat" in this delicious meat-free shepherd's pie number.
To make this lentil shepherds pie you will need:
- A tablespoon or so of oil - rapeseed, sunflower or vegetable oil are fine
- Three medium-sized carrots - diced nice and small
- 2 parsnips - peeled and diced nice and small
- One medium leek - finely sliced
- 3 - 4 sprigs of thyme
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- Three cloves of garlic
- 250 grams of uncooked red lentils
- 1 vegetable stockpot
- 850ml freshly boiled water
- 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
- A tablespoon of soy sauce
- 150 grams of frozen peas
- ¼ tsp of ground cloves
- A tablespoon of red wine vinegar
- Half a teaspoon of chilli powder
- 1.5kg of potatoes
- 100 grams plant-based butter
- 100ml of unsweetened soy or almond milk
I'm using uncooked red lentils, but you could substitute in green lentils. If you want a speedier dinner, you could even use ready-cooked canned lentils. I'll pop a disclaimer here that I haven't tried this myself - BUT it will work. After you've added the lentils, add 300 - 450ml of water, and shorten the stove-top cooking time by 15 - 20 minutes.
For this vegan version of the classic, we're not even going to use a vegan Worcestershire sauce, oh no, we're going to pick out just three of it's most prominent ingredients and pop them in individually. Trust me, you'll think that this dish is laden with the stuff, but it's not. To mimic that flavour - we have red wine vinegar, ground cloves and chilli powder, there's also a splash of soy sauce for depth. Divine.
Top Tips For Making Red Lentil Shepherd's Pie
Carrots. To peel or not to peel?! Now listen, I rarely EVER peel carrots, who's got the time when you literally don't have too! There's A LOT of discourse around peeling and not peeling carrots (I very much researched the discourse) and I've concluded it all comes down to personal preference. Vitamin C is concentrated heavily in the peel/ skin, but it's also abundantly present throughout the rest of the carrot too, so you do you, hun. OK? It deffo would be best if you peeled your parsnips though.
THE KEY to super tasty vegan mashed potatoes, as I'm sure you know is a tonne of vegan butter and almond milk. I use 100 grams of each - and season the mash really really well with salt and pepper. The key to super creamy mash is a potato ricer, I only recently got one, and it's properly upped my mash game.
It's possible to use sweet potatoes in the mash. If I were going incorporate sweet potato into this recipe, I would switch out ⅔'s of the white potatoes for sweet potatoes, but keep a third of the white ones to keep the mash a bit stiffer.
I portioned this lentil shepherds pie into four individual dishes because I didn't want to argue with anyone about who got the corners where the mashed potatoes are at their crispiest. If you're prepared to have and win those arguments, I'm rooting for you; then you can make this in one big sharing baking dish, no dramas.
What Sides Will I Need?
This vegan shepherd's pie is a fairly filling little situation, but a side of seasonal veg never hurt anybody did it? I'd personally go for broccoli or some sautéed cabbage, something with a bit of crunch to go alongside the soft shepherd's pie.
Can I Freeze or Refrigerate This Lentil Shepherd's Pie?
Absolutely. After you've popped your creamy mash on top of the lentil filling, allow everything to cool and then pop in the fridge. If you're planning on freezing, it'll be best to assemble in those gorgeous aluminium foil trays so you can them straight into the oven after defrosting.
On defrosting - allow your lentil shepherd's pie to defrost in the fridge over night before cooking.
Can I Reheat This Meatless Shepherd's Pie?
YES! This dish is awesome on day one - but day two, after the flavours have had a chance to mingle and get to know each other!? Still awesome - if not MORE awesome. I prefer to reheat in the oven at 180c for 10 - 15minutes; it keeps that crispiness in the mash. You can microwave, though, if you prefer.
More Recipes With Lentils
- Lentil, Walnut & Aubergine Lasagne
- Lentil Ragu
- Vegan Chilli Con Carne
- Whole Roasted Cauliflower
- 20-minute Lentil Balls
- Chilli Stuffed Squash
Did You Make This Recipe?
If you’ve made yourself meatless shepherd's pie today, I would love it if you could leave a rating and comment below. It really helps me get to know you better and tells me which sort of recipes you want more of.
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Vegan Shepherd's Pie
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 medium leek finely sliced
- 3 medium carrots diced nice and small
- 2 parsnips peeled and diced nice and small
- 3 sprigs of thyme leaves picked
- 1 sprig rosemary leaves picked and finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 250 grams uncooked red lentils
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 vegetable stock pot
- 850 ml boiling water
- 150 grams frozen peas
For Mashed Potatoes
- 1.5 kg potatoes peeled & chopped
- 100 grams plant-based butter
- 100 ml almond milk or soy milk
- Heat a glug of oil in a large saucepan or stockpot, add carrots, leeks and parsnips and cook over medium heat for 5 - 6 minutes, until softened slightly but not browned.
- Add the rosemary, thyme and garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Add soy sauce, red wine vinegar, tomato puree, ground cloves and chilli powder and cook for 2 - 3 minutes.
- Rinse lentils under cold running water, add to the pan along with stock pot, 850ml boiling water and peas. Stir to combine, bring to a simmer and then cook covered for 25 minutes, stir occasionally.
- Peel and chop potatoes, add to a large saucepan with plenty of salt and then cover with cold water. Bring the water to the boil, and allow to boil for 15 - 20 minutes until potatoes are super soft.
- Drain potatoes, before passing through a potato ricer, or mashing with a potato masher. Add plant-based butter and milk, season well with salt and pepper and then mix until creamy and soft. Set aside.
- Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
- Taste the lentil filling, and adjust seasoning to taste. Be generous with the salt and pepper here.
- Transfer lentil filling to a large ovenproof dish, or four smaller ones, top with mash and spread with a fork to create indents that will go lovely and crispy in the oven. You can chill or freeze the shepherd's pies at this point if not planning on eating rightaway.
- Bake for 20 minutes until the mash topping begins to colour and crisp.
- Serve with seasonal vegetables of your choosing.