This naturally vegan lentil shepherd’s pie is made by baking stewed lentils and vegetables with a garlic chive mashed potato topping. My meatless shepherd’s pie recipe is flavorfully made with normal, non-weird, nutritious ingredients and I hope that you and your family love it!
A certain sassy non-vegan friend of mine encouraged me to give this dish a different name. “Stop stealing names from non-vegan foods”, he said. “Call it a ‘Shannon casserole’ or something”. Even ignoring the morbid interpretation of that title, I object on principle!
Many of us ate non-vegan shepherd’s pie in our past. Now we’re looking for a vegan version because perhaps we’re trying to lower our cholesterol, or feed a vegetarian guest, or exclude animal products for ethical reasons, or simply try something new. I don’t really feel compelled by pressures to rename the dish. Calling it vegan shepherd’s pie is helpful, evocative, and in my humble opinion a colloquially correct usage of the English language. It’s also informative for people who are looking for recipes.
Anyway, what’s the term for someone who herds fruits and vegetables instead of sheep? Whatever you want to call me, I’ve shepherded shallots, carrots, and apples into this casserole dish to make a vegan shepherd’s pie, and I’m not sorry about it.
Back when I made lentil balls, and even before that when I made chickpea sloppy joes, I noticed that nicely sweated onions, carrots and garlic build a familiar-tasting, savory base for recipes originally inspired by meat dishes. For this meat-free pie, I add into that sauté mixture lentils, tomato paste, and soy sauce along with a gentle glug of maple syrup. This forms the lentil layer of the casserole.
For the mashed potato layer, the only limit is your imagination. My vegan roasted garlic mashed potatoes would be amazing on this, but I don’t always have cashews and roasted garlic ready to go. So here I give you a very easy vegan garlic mash made creamy with olive oil and non-dairy milk. Nothing crazy, just good tasty mash.
No promises, but if I can make it far enough down my list of Thanksgiving recipes to test, I’ll be sharing a vegan fusion shepherd’s pie later that is made without lentils, and uses sweet potato on top. Until then, I hope you enjoy this traditional style lentil shepherd’s pie. You may already have all of the ingredients on hand!
Vegan Shepherd's Pie
For cooking the lentils:
- 1 cup dry green lentils rinsed
- 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
For the lentil layer:
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 shallots thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 large carrot peeled and finely diced
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (or regular)
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1 red apple diced (any variety)
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
- salt and pepper to taste
For the garlic chive mashed potato layer:
- 2 lbs red potatoes (32oz/907g)
- 1/4 cup plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 4 cloves garlic minced or grated
- 1/2 bunch chives finely chopped (0.33oz/9g)
For cooking the lentils:
- Add the lentils, vegetable broth, and bay leaf (if using) to a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are cooked through, 15-20 minutes. If they run out of liquid before cooking thoroughly, add more broth or water. Remove the bay leaf and drain any excess broth.
For the lentil vegetable layer:
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced shallot with a pinch of salt, and stir. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until shallot is softened and starting to lightly brown, 3-5 minutes. Add the carrot and stir well, cooking for another 3-5 minutes until carrot starts to soften.
- Stir in the minced garlic, smoked paprika and dried thyme, and cook for about 60 seconds until fragrant. Add the apple, tomato paste, soy sauce, and maple syrup.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the cooked lentils. Adjust salt, pepper and other seasoning to taste.
For the mashed potatoes layer:
- Add the red potatoes to a saucepan with cold water. (If your potatoes are on the larger side, you can roughly chop them first to save time.)
- Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes, and once cool enough to handle, remove the skins (if desired).
- Use a potato masher or ricer to mash the potatoes. Add the non-dairy milk, olive oil, salt and garlic, and continue mashing until well-combined and smooth. Stir in the chopped chives; add more salt and pepper to taste.
For assembling and baking the vegan shepherd's pie:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread out the lentil mixture on the bottom of a casserole dish (mine is 7" by 10" and this recipe fills it to the brim; slightly larger sizes will also work). Use a spatula to press the lentils into a flat, compact layer. Dollop the mashed potatoes on top and gently spread them out into an even layer. Optionally, brush or spray additional olive oil on top of the mashed potato layer for better browning.
- Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the casserole is hot through, and the top of the potatoes are crusted and lightly browned. Optionally, broil for 3-4 minutes to get even more color on the surface.
- Serve hot; once cooled, leftovers store nicely in both the refrigerator or the freezer.
Other comforting casserole dishes from the blog:
I have been vegan for 9 years and this is my favourite shepherds pie recipe I have ever tried. I try other ones here and there but I always come back to yours! I have made it so many times now. This is actually the first meal I made for my boyfriend! I am making it right now for Easter and I had to comment. I love the apple in this recipe. The texture and the spices are perfect. The only thing I change is, I top it with sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes! Thank you for this. We will be enjoying this dish tomorrow! 😍
This is by far my most favourite Shepherds Pie – all of the meat eaters in my family LOVED it and now prefer it to the traditional version. The flavourings are incredible and it is one of our absolute family favourites…thankyou x 1 million for the recipe xxxxx