I’m a hugger. If you meet me, I will resist the urge to hug you on our first meeting because I’m not sure if you’re cool with it. But I’ll want to. It’s just who I am. And that’s what this vegan lentil shepherd’s pie feels like to me: a hug, by way of the internet and your oven.
It’s packed with beans (6 cups to be exact), a bunch of veggies and it is 100% not dry. I hate dry mashed potatoes almost as much as I dislike a dry shepherd’s pie. So this pie is lavished in a gravy that is so good, you’ll want to lick the bowl.
I haven’t made a lot of casseroles here on the blog – but apparently, I’m driven to put celeriac in them. Just like this lasagna. This time, celeriac is my secret to a silky smooth mash that whips up so light, you’ll think there is a bunch of cream in there but of course, there isn’t. Well, maybe a little vegan butter – but not nearly as much as you’d think.
How to make a vegan’s shepherd’s pie
I did not grow up eating shepherd’s pie…so in fact, the only shepherd’s pie I’ve ever eaten is a plant-based one! When I was travelling, I ate my first vegetarian shepherd’s pie in New Zealand and loved it so much that I copied the recipe in a little red notebook that somehow, I have misplaced!
Traditional shepherd’s pie is really a simple meal: a mince + veggie base topped with mashed potatoes. However, I like to consider that suggestion a formula, really. Something whipped on top, something saucy and hearty underneath. Once you’ve mastered this recipe, you could go wild and experiment with your own unique spin!
Things you could put on top of a vegan shepherd’s pie:
- Classic mashed potatoes
- Whipped cauliflower mash
- Mashed sweet potatoes (if that’s your thing, try Deliciously Ella’s shepherd’s pie)
- Or, get really crazy and go for earthy, flavourful celeriac.
Things you could layer into a vegan shepherd’s pie:
- Vegetarian ground, kidney beans, black beans, lentils…you get the idea
- Vegetables: most recipes start with the traditional aromatics – onion, celery and carrot. Mushrooms are common. Some folks like peas, or corn, or both. I included corn at my husband’s request.
- Herbs and flavourings like rosemary, thyme, sage along with tomato paste and something to lend some acidity such as Worcestershire, balsamic or red wine
This dish is a total crowd-pleaser…ignore my rudimentary photography skills. Stew textures, beige and brown colours and dark late fall days are too great a challenge, LOL. You are going to LOVE this one! Serve it as a holiday main, take it to a potluck or use it to batch cook and freeze for those crazy weeks when you don’t have time to cook.
I’m not gonna lie; it’s not exactly a 30 minute meal. But it’s 100% worth it. Perfect on it’s own, it’s also lovely served with a kale or spinach salad.
Vegan Lentil Shepherd's Pie
- 2 pounds yellow nugget potatoes scrubbed, skin on and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
- 1 pound celeriac (celery root) trimmed, peeled and cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
- ¼ cup vegan butter I like Miyoko's
- 2 cloves garlic peeled but left whole
- 1 teaspoon salt
Shepherd's Pie Mix
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 2 large carrots scrubbed and diced
- 2 ribs celery diced
- ½ pound button or cremini mushrooms cleaned and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and sliced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- freshly cracked pepper
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano or 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 14 oz cans lentils drained and rinsed, or 3 cups cooked lentils
- 2 14 oz cans white beans, like navy, butter or cannelini drained and rinsed, or 3 cups cooked beans
- Bring potatoes, celery root and garlic cloves to boil in large pot. Gently boil until fork tender, about 15-20 minutes.
- Carefully drain and place in food processor with butter and salt and puree until silky smooth, about 1-2 minutes. You could also mash by hand for a more rustic effect. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400° Fahrenheit (205° Celsius).
- In a large saute pan or French oven, heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and glossy, about 5-7 minutes.
- Next, add garlic and mushrooms, and cook, stirring often, until mushrooms release water, and vegetables start to get colour - about 4 to 5 minutes. Season with ½ tsp salt and cracked pepper to taste.
- Now, add in the vegetable broth, corn, tomato paste, balsamic, soy sauce, thyme, and oregano. Bring to a boil on medium high, then lower to medium heat.
- Place cornstarch in a small bowl, then add 3-4 tablespoons of the hot stock and mix until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to the vegetable broth and stir well. Reduce heat to medium low, add beans and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, so mixture thickens and resembles a gravy. Remove from heat.
- If using a French oven, simply smooth the celeriac mash over the shepherd's pie mixture and then place in the oven. If using a casserole dish, carefully pour shepherd's pie mixture into the dish and then smooth celeriac mash over the top. You need at least ½ inch (1 cm) of headroom in the dish for mixture to bubble.
- Place dish into oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until mixture is bubbling and thick at the sides. If you wish, turn on broiler to get some additional colour on the mash. Watch carefully so it doesn't burn.
- Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving. At 15 minutes, the mixture will have more of a gravy like consistency. When allowed to stand for 30 minutes, it will begin to thicken up.