There are no words to describe this vegan shepherd’s pie, with a richly flavored filling of lentils and mushrooms, other than as a deep dish of comfort. It’s a fantastic main dish for the vegans and vegetarians at your holiday table or as a company dish in the fall and winter.
This hearty shepherd’s pie is probably my most internet-famous recipe, hailing from my 2011 book Vegan Holiday Kitchen. It’s all over the web, so those who are searching for this or something like it may or may not wind up here.
Perfect as a winter holiday vegan main dish: A particularly popular Thanksgiving main dish for the plant-based crowd, this shepherd’s pie is a fantastic choice for the festive Christmas table as well.
Of course you need not save it for a holiday meal; it would be welcome for any special occasion. Though the recipe is fairly easy, making mashed potatoes is always a bit of a task. So while this isn’t something you’d whip up after a long day of work, it could be a fun project for a snowy Sunday.
A sweet potato swap: You can substitute sweet potato for part of the golden potatoes. See the variation in the notes section of the recipe box.
Roast some veggies at the same time: Since you’ve got the oven going at 400ºF, roast a pan of vegetables at the same time as a side dish. Explore some roasted vegetable dishes that hardly need a recipe, or to use in making Roasted Root Vegetable Salad.
Mashed potato topping
- 8 large or 10 medium potatoes (golden potatoes works quite well)
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- 1/2 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 ounces cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and sliced
- Two 15-ounce cans lentils, drained but not rinsed
- 1/4 cup dry red wine, optional
- 1 to 2 tablespoon soy sauce or Bragg liquid aminos, to taste
- 2 to 3 teaspoons all-purpose seasoning blend (like Mrs. Dash or Frontier; see Note)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
- 5 to 6 ounces baby spinach or arugula leaves
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- Peel and dice the potatoes. Place in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small mixing bowl.
- Stir the vegan butter into the potatoes until melted, then add the nondairy milk and mash until fluffy. Season with salt, cover, and set aside until needed.
- Preheat the oven to 400º F.
- While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
- Add the lentils and their liquid and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the optional wine, soy sauce, seasoning blend, thyme, and pepper. Cook gently for 5 minutes. Combine the cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve in a small container. Stir into the lentil mixture.
- Add the spinach, a little at a time, cooking just until it’s all wilted down. Remove from the heat; taste to adjust seasonings to your liking.
- Lightly oil a 2-quart (preferably round) casserole dish, or two deep-dish pie plates. Scatter the breadcrumbs evenly over the bottom. Pour in the lentil mixture, then spread the potatoes evenly over the top. If using two pie plates, divide each mixture evenly between them.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to turn golden and slightly crusty. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into wedges to serve.
This can be made gluten-free by using GF breadcrumbs and GF tamari (rather than soy sauce).
Note on seasoning blend: In place of all-purpose seasoning blend, you might try a barbecue seasoning blend, which gives this dish a yummy smoky flavor. McCormick's® makes several varieties that you can find in the supermarket spice section.
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