To kick off my week of ‘vegan eats’ I’ll be sharing this tasty and warming comfort food recipe to make a great vegan (or vegetarian) Shepherd’s pie. The big difference between this and a normal Shepherd’s pie recipe is switching out the lamb (or for a cottage pie, beef) mince for lentils. Other than that this still keeps to being what you’d recognise as a Shepherd’s pie with a few twists I have thrown in to give it a richer background flavour.
On a cold winter’s evening, like the ones we haven’t had this year, is there anything better than snuggling up on the sofa with a big plate of comfort food like a shepherd’s pie to keep you warm and cosy? Well, now there is something just a little bit better.
By switching to a vegetarian shepherd’s pie and ditching the mince you are going to get more healthy vegetables and plant based protein in the lentils, it will be just as filling but better for you and for the environment.
Often turning a traditionally meaty recipe into a vegetarian one means lots of omissions from the ingredients list or having to add in things you’re not used to eating but I think I have got a winner here with this recipe. It’s really tasty and keeps you going.
In today’s busy world something like a Shepherd’s pie is usually kept for the weekend, when we’re got a bit more time for preparing and cooking dishes but this one won’t take too long (25 mins prep time and 40 mins cooking time) so you can easily enjoy it any day of the week.
How did it turn out?
I have made vegetarian shepherd’s pie recipes before but have always used a meat substitute like Quorn (or supermarket own brand quorn!) so this would be a bit of a departure from the norm for me. It also means you can’t make a traditional ‘gravy’ like sauce for the filling. I did wonder about this and about how the finished shepherd’s pie would turn out. Would the sauce act like a ‘gravy’? Would it even be strong enough of a mix to support the potato topping without the mince, aren’t cooked lentils quite squishy?
Luckily I think it all turned out okay. I reduced down the liquidy sauce mixture so it had a thick enough consistency to still be like a gravy but also to support the potato on top. It still tasted like a shepherd’s pie and I think the optional sauces (Worcestershire and Soy) really lifted the recipe.
You can see from the picture that it didn’t quite make enough sweet potato mash to cover the whole dish when I made it so I added more potato to the list of ingredients below. Make the full amount as you can always keep any leftover mash in the fridge for another day and it is much better to have a bit too much than too little.
Veggie Shepherd’s Pie with sweet potato mash
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onions, finely chopped
- 3 large carrots, diced
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 200ml red vermouth
- 400g can chopped tomato
- 2 vegetable stock cubes
- 410g can green lentils
- 950g sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
- 25g butter (or vegan alternative)
- 85g vegetarian (or vegan) mature cheddar cheese, grated
Optional ingredients, use vegetarian alternatives to these if necessary.
- 2-3 tsp worcestershire sauce, (vegetarian versions without anchovies are available and just as good).
- 2-3 tsp soy sauce
- Prepare all the ingredients as directed and preheat your oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5
- Heat the oil in a frying pan, then fry the onion until golden along with the dried herbs. Add the chopped carrots.
Make your stock with 150ml of water and add to the pan along with the canned tomatoes. If you’re using the soy and worcestershire sauces add them now. Simmer for 10 mins.
- Add the can of lentils then cover and simmer for 10 minutes or so till they are a little pulpy but the carrots still have some bite in them. The sauce should have reduced and thickened. If it is still a little too thin try adding some cornflour to thicken the sauce.
- Whilst the filling is simmering away prepare the potatoes by peeling and dicing. Boil the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes before draining, then mash with the butter. Season with a little black pepper to taste.
- To assemble the pie, take a large pie dish and fill with the lentil filling mix. Spoon the mash over this and spread out. Top with vegetarian cheese.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. The top should form a golden crust and the filling be piping hot and bubbling around the edges of the dish.
Unwind and enjoy it with a glass of red wine, it will go perfectly with the flavours in the pie
Check back tomorrow for the next recipe in my vegan series, “Sweet potato risotto with pumpkin seeds and chopped walnuts”.