Craving comfort food? Then you're going to LOVE this delicious Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie! This scrumptious, cozy recipe is loaded with veggies and has a rich, savory flavor you'll crave. It's the perfect cold weather meal!
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Now that cooler weather is here to stay for a few months—yes, even in Texas!—I've been enjoying all my favorite comfort foods.
Shepherd's Pie is a comfort food classic that I've always loved the idea of, but I quite never found the perfect vegetarian version. Which is why I decided to create my own recipe!
This Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie recipe satisfied all my cravings, and I couldn't be happier to share this amazing recipe with you! This what cozy winter dreams are made of: savory veggies and lentils in a finger-licking good sauce, topped with a generous helping of mashed potatoes.
If you're searching for that perfect savory pie too, then trust me, you are going to want to make this recipe ASAP! Keep scrolling for all the details.
This humble dish originated in England and Ireland around the same time that the potato was introduced as a diet staple. It's essentially a layer of meat, and sometimes veggies, topped with a mashed potato crust. The terms Cottage Pie and Shepherd's Pie are often used interchangeably, however a Cottage Pie is made with beef, while Shepherd's Pie is made with lamb.
Of course, I'm talking about a Meatless Pie here. So you can go ahead and call this delicious dish whatever you wish ... I've even heard more creative names, like Shepherdless Pie or Shepherdess Pie, used on occasion!
Why You'll Love this Recipe
There are many recipes for this classic-with-a-twist dish out there, so what makes this the best? Let me tell you:
- Tons of veggies. We are skipping the meat here, so that means lots of yummy vegetables.
- Delicious sauce. An amazing gravy / sauce is essential for this dish, and this one delivers on crave-worthy umami-based flavors.
- Lots of mashed potatoes. I can't get behind any Cottage Pie recipe that doesn't have a high potato to filling ratio ... and this one is perfect!
- Sticks to the Ribs. My version of this classic dish is made with mostly healthy ingredients. Even so, between the mashed potatoes, soul-satisfying sauce, and hearty lentil-veggie mix, this pie will keep you full and comforted on the coldest of winter days.
Have I convinced you that you need to make this recipe yet? Then, keep reading for all the delicious details!
The ingredients for this humble, hearty dish are pretty basic. Here's what you'll need:
- Potatoes - I'm using the recipe for my favorite Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes, but my Garlic Mashed Potatoes or Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes would also work great (use half of each recipe, if you substitute). You can use any kind of mash though, even leftovers or sweet potatoes.
- Lentils - The recipe calls for standard brown or green lentils, which give the filling a hearty flavor and texture. Black or le puy lentils could also be used, however do not substitute yellow or red lentils, which won't hold their shape.
- Veggies - You'll use a combination of vegetables to create this recipe's flavorful filling. The onions, carrots, and celery create a great base, mushrooms add an excellent taste and texture, and peas are a staple in this classic recipe. Fresh garlic adds even more flavor.
- Herbs + Spices - This recipe is seasoned with a fragrant combination of dried thyme, rosemary, and fresh garlic. If you'd prefer to use fresh thyme and rosemary, stir them into the filling just before baking.
- Sauce - To make the tasty sauce, you'll use a combination of tomato paste, vegetable broth, and soy sauce, plus a little flour to thicken it. Those ingredients, along with the mushrooms in the filling, contribute the umami taste that really makes this recipe pop!
Vegetarian + Vegan Friendly - This recipe is naturally vegetarian. To make it vegan, use plant based butter and milk to make the mashed potatoes. I like to use unsweetened soy milk, which super creamy and has a neutral flavor.
You'll Also Need
You'll need a medium saucepan to cook the lentils, a large pot to make the mashed potatoes, and a large skillet to prepare the filling (I used this nonstick frying pan), as well as a large baking dish to bake the pie.
How to Make Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
Let's get started on this delicious, easy pie! There are a few steps, but it's not hard to make. You'll find a detailed recipe card below, but here's an overview of the steps:
- Cook the lentils. Simmer the lentils in a small saucepan of well-salted water until tender. It should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Tip: To save time, substitute 1 ½ cups pre-cooked lentils.
- Make the mashed potatoes. Once you've started the lentils, add the chopped potatoes to a large pot of well-salted water, then bring them to a boil and cook until tender. Mash with butter, cream cheese, and just enough milk to get the right consistency.
- Sauté the veggies. Cook the onions, carrots, and celery in a little olive oil just until the onions start to get translucent. Then add the mushrooms and cook them until they're tender and any liquid they've released has evaporated.
- Make the sauce. Mix the garlic, thyme, and rosemary into the veggies and cook until the garlic is fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste, frozen peas, and the lentils, then cook until hot. Sprinkle on the flour, then stir well. Add the vegetable broth and soy sauce, and simmer this mixture until the sauce thickens, about five minutes or so.
- Assemble the pie. Transfer the vegetable-lentil filling to a large baking dish, then top it with the mashed potatoes. Brush the potatoes with melted butter.
- Bake. Finally, bake your pie until it's hot and bubbly. The mashed potato topping should also be starting to brown in spots.
And then it's time to eat ... doesn't that Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie look amazing? The flavors in this dish are so deep and rich. And with the delicious, savory sauce and yummy mashed potato topping, it's total comfort food. This really is the BEST recipe!
Tip: In order to keep things moving along, you'll work on the different components (the mashed potatoes, lentils, and filling) at the same time. That way, everything is ready to assemble at about the same time.
This Veggie Shepherd's Pie is made with mostly healthy ingredients, but with its saucy vegetable-lentil filling and creamy mashed potato topping, it's pretty filling.
Serve this dish all on its own or with something light like your fave steamed or Roasted Veggies or these Glazed Carrots. It also goes great with salad. Try it with this Easy Massaged Kale Salad, Garden Salad, Chopped Salad, or this Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad.
If you loved this recipe, then make sure to try my Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie, too ... it has similar flavors, plus a tasty sweet potato mash!
Looking for more cozy veggie dishes? You'll love these recipes, too:
- Vegetable Pie
- Mushroom, Kale, and Cheddar Quiche
- Veggie Pot Pie (for the Ninja Foodi)
- Roasted Vegetable Tart
- Vegetable Wellington
- Mushroom Wellington
- Stuffed Acorn Squash
Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
- ½ cup green lentils (or brown lentils)
For Mashed Potatoes:
- 1 ½ pounds red potatoes, chopped
- 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temp
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
- ¼ to ½ cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 large carrots, diced
- 2 large stalks celery, diced
- 1 pound mushrooms, diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- ¾ cup frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cup vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a large baking dish.
- Place lentils in a medium sauce pan and cover with well-salted water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Cook lentils until they're tender, but firm (about 15 to 20 minutes). Drain well, then set aside.
Prepare Mashed Potatoes:
- While lentils cook, place potatoes in a large pot of cold, well-salted water. Bring to a boil, then cook until tender. Drain.
- Add cream cheese and butter to potatoes, then mash, adding just enough milk to reach desired consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside.
- While lentils and potatoes are cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add onion, carrots, and celery to skillet; season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until onion starts to turn translucent around the edges (about 5 to 7 minutes).
- Stir mushrooms into pan. Sauté until mushrooms are tender and any liquid they release has evaporated.
- Add garlic, thyme, and rosemary to veggies. Cook until fragrant, stirring constantly (about 30 seconds).
- Gently mix tomato paste, peas, and lentil into skillet. Cook for a minute or two, or until hot.
- Sprinkle veggies with flour, then mix in thoroughly.
- Add broth and soy sauce, then simmer mixture until sauce has thickened (about 3 to 5 minutes).
- Remove vegetables from heat, then season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
- Transfer veggies to baking dish, then top with mashed potatoes. Brush potatoes with butter.
- Bake pie until hot and potatoes are starting to turn golden, about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Serve Shepherd's Pie hot. Enjoy!