French Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Recipe by Katie Mae
 
This Shepherd’s Pie recipe is perfect for chilly winter nights. It’s a favorite comfort food – yet totally plant-loving and health-promoting! Shepherd’s pie dates back to the 19th century when potatoes became popular in England. This dish, traditionally made with minced leftover meat and topped with mashed potatoes, became a staple food for the English, Scottish, and Irish. Feel free to substitute the veggies listed with those you have in the fridge to make this an easy, go-to recipe!
 
Ready in 45–60 minutes
Makes twelve 3×3-inch pieces
Stores 5 days in fridge or 2 months in freezer

 

INGREDIENTS

BOTTOM LAYER

  • 1 cup French or green lentils
  • 5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 10 crimini mushrooms, diced
  • 1 cup broccoli, diced
  • ½ cup rolled oats (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon garlic granules
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen green peas, thawed

TOP LAYER

  • 8 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
  • ½ cup cup water
  • ½ cup unsweetened, non-dairy milk
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup cashews (optional)

 
Lentil Shepherd's Pie
 

ACTION STEPS

 
1. In a large pot with the lid on, bring 1 to 2 inches of water to a boil. While the water heats, chop potatoes. Add a steam basket to the pot and fill it with potatoes. Steam potatoes for about 20 minutes. They should be soft and will split nicely using a fork. Turn off heat and set aside.

2. In another pan, heat lentils and water over med-high heat. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Let lentils cook until they are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Note, it is fully cooked before it goes in the oven so baking the pie is an optional step. Baking reduces some of the moisture so that when the pieces are cut and served, they hold together better.

4. While the starches are cooking, heat carrots and onions in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Keep the pan covered and stir frequently. If the veggies start to stick to pan, add a little water. Once onions are translucent, add mushrooms and broccoli. Continue to cook until the veggies are tender. Add peas and turn off the heat.

5. After the lentils have been cooking for about 20 minutes, stir in herbs, garlic, and black pepper. Add rolled oats, stirring often so the oats do not clump together. Lentils will become thick and creamy. Add vegetable broth or water as needed, keeping the lentils moist at this point so they don’t become to dry in the oven.

6. Stir veggies into lentils and mix well. Pour lentil-veggie mix into a 9×13 inch casserole pan.

7. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl. Add water, non-dairy milk, and black pepper. Mash potatoes until they are creamy. Layer mashed potatoes over lentils. If using cashews, grind them in a spice grinder and sprinkle powder over potato layer.

8. Bake for 15 minutes. Then let the casserole site for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

 

Lentil Shepherd's Pie
Lentil Shepherd's Pie

 

 
Did you like this recipe? If so, please share it. Your voice matters in spreading the plant-based message and transforming our food system. Salud!

19 Comments

  1. Carolyn
    February 17, 2014

    This is sooooooo good! It’s also very filling. I always struggle with feeling full when eating vegetarian. This was not a problem this time. My 21 month old son and husband all loved it!

    Changes I made:
    -did not use mushrooms
    -doubled carrots
    -sub celery for broccoli
    -added vegetarian bouillon to the mashed potatoes
    -added salt to all
    -used whole oatmeal instead of ground

    • Katie Mae
      Katie Mae
      March 29, 2014

      Great to hear everyone loved it Carolyn!! And it’s refreshing to hear you’re son’s enjoying the same food as you – it’s so important for the kids to get whole plant foods too. Great job! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Bran
    March 29, 2014

    I made this for guests last night and everyone loved it. It disappeared fast. I was impressed by how very tasty the mashed potatoes were made with just potatoes and potato water.

    I added two tablespoons of freshly ground flax seed to the oat flour before mixing it in. I thought it might make the bottom layer a little firmer and less saucy. In any case, I love the taste of flax.

    Thanks for all your wonderful recipes.

    • Katie Mae
      Katie Mae
      March 29, 2014

      Wonderful Bran! Yes, my classes are always impressed by the potato flavor as well. Plants have incredible flavor on their own, if we just give them a chance to show it. :)

      I love your addition of flax. How did it turn out? Did the flax help thicken the lentil layer and will you add it next time?

      • Bran
        April 4, 2014

        I think the ground flax did make it thicker, or at least from how your photos look. And yes, I would add it again, maybe more next time. I really should try recipes as written first, but I rarely do.

        • Katie Mae
          Katie Mae
          April 5, 2014

          Interesting. I’m glad it worked out and, better yet that you liked it! I’m not sure I would personally want that layer any thicker than it is, but it’s great to have that option for those that do. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Gira
    October 14, 2014

    I am excited to try this! I noticed that the soymilk is listed in the ingredients but not mentioned in the directions. What are you supposed to do with it?

    Thanks!

  4. Anne E. McGuigan
    December 31, 2014

    Hi Katie Mae,
    Shepherd’s Pie is a family favourite, as are lentils and potatoes. I will enjoy trying this recipe.
    Many thanks.
    Anne

    • Katie Mae
      Katie Mae
      January 27, 2015

      How did you like the Shepherd’s Pie Anne? Would you make it again?

  5. Georgia
    January 10, 2015

    Katie, I was there during Christmas Extraveganza and was sorry I was fasting when you made this. I came late to the prep (appmt.) so missed the process. Wow, I was shocked how long this took for me to make even with my husband’s help. Maybe it was the first time, but it took a lot of prep work and too many pans. Plus I used dried rosemary and thyme and didn’t really like that taste too well at least this first day, maybe better tomorrow. I did add celery and cut carrots to 3 large. And I was surprised that directions didn’t call for draining some of the liquid off the lentils… I did drain some (held it aside) and it need more draining… I think I would like to add 2-3 T tomato paste or puree and add the lentils to the veggie sauté and cook them there … cut down pans and work. I’ll try it some time again when I have 2+ hours to prep, etc. and I’ll add some different spices & tomato flavor. The potatoes on top were the greatest.

    • Katie Mae
      Katie Mae
      January 27, 2015

      Hi Georgia, thanks for the feedback! Yes, there a few steps do this dish, but I think the most time consuming part is just chopping the vegetables. I do recommend cooking the lentils and veggies in one pot to save time and cut back on the pans. I would put the veggies into the pot with the lentils rather than the other way around. You want to make sure the pot is deep enough to hold all of the ingredients and be able to stir it easily.

      Once, you do it a couple times, I think you’ll find it’s not so time-consuming. Also, I think it’s important to remember that when you’re cooking from scratch, regardless of whether you’re eating plant-based, paleo or standard American, it takes time to prepare the food. If you think about traditional shepherd’s pie or lasagna there are multiple steps ands multiple pans. I like doing dishes like this for a nice family meal, or make a few of them at a time and freeze them so that you can just pop them in the oven and enjoy! Regarding the herbs, you’ll have to just experiment to know which ones you like and don’t like. I think the tomato paste would be a nice touch.

  6. JCB
    January 29, 2015

    Help! When do you add the soy milk listed in both sets of ingredients?

    • Katie Mae
      Katie Mae
      January 30, 2015

      Hi JCB! I hope I’m not too late to help you here. I actually decided to take the soy milk out of the lentil layer as it’s unnecessary and extra calories. Also, for the mash potato layer, I almost always use just water and no soy milk. That’s why I forgot to mention the milk in the instructions, my apologies.

      You can use any plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk of your choosing in place of some of the water in the lentils or potatoes. To minimize the calorie density, leave out the milk all together. Note, I also removed tahini from the recipe for the same reason. The flavor is just as delicious.

  7. Susan Vickers
    April 17, 2015

    Hi Katie,
    just popped the recipe in the oven, i cooked the lentils in the instant pot…5 cups of water seemed like a lot, .
    When the lentils were done, i ended up removing 2 cups of water ,prior to adding the oat flour.
    just wanted to confirm the recipe was truly for 5 cups of water.!

    Thanks!
    Susan.

    • Katie Mae
      Katie Mae
      April 20, 2015

      Hi Susan,

      I hope you enjoyed the pie! The water amount in the recipe is correct, but that amount is specific for cooking the lentils on the stove top. When the lentils are cooked in the pressure cooker they don’t need as much water. I’d share the exact proportions for the pressure cooker, but I haven’t tested it that way yet. I’d say its reasonable that you only needed 2 cups. Thanks for mentioning this!

    • John
      December 20, 2015

      For the love of god how long did you cook the lentils lol! The instant pot manual lumps lentils in with beans even though they are totally different. Beans are big, lentils are small, you should soak beans but not lentils. This is driving me mental ?

      • Katie Mae
        Katie Mae
        December 28, 2015

        Hi Susan, I’m sorry for the confusion. On the stove top, I cook the lentils for 30-40 minutes, but in the InstantPot, I only cook them for 22 minutes. I hope this helps!

  8. Dian
    November 5, 2015

    Good morning, Katie Mae!
    I am thinking of making this for Thanksgiving. Can it be made ahead and frozen? If so- what is best way to defrost and cook on Thanksgiving day so it will taste the best?
    Many thanks for sharing your fabulous recipes!
    Dian

    • Katie Mae
      Katie Mae
      November 7, 2015

      Hi Dian! Yes, you can absolutely make this ahead of time. If you’re making it just 24 hours in advamce, I’d say just store it in the fridge. If you’re making it further in advance, I think you will preserve the flavors more if you freeze it. I would prepare the full casserole, but do not top with any cashew powder or bake it in the oven. Let it cool to room temp, cover it with parchment paper and then foil, and then place it in the freezer.

      If you can, take it out of the freezer and place in the fridge to defrost the night before serving. Then bake according to the instructions above, but adding an additional 10 minutes to the cooking time. Pull the casserole out to add the cashew topping just 10-15 minutes before it’s done.

      If you only have a few hours before cooking, you’ll still want to defrost in the fridge. The more frozen it is, the longer it will take to bake and the more chance you have for it cook unevenly. If it’s frozen when it goes in the oven, you may have to add 30-45 minutes to the cooking time.