Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie is a great healthy veggie loaded comfort food dish.
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What do you call it?
I’ve recently learned that this could actually be called cottage pie rather than Shepherd’s pie. A shepherd’s pie was originally made with lamb, as the shepherd took care of the lamb. However, in more recent times the term shepherd’s pie is used for all kinds of meat pies and even vegetarian and vegan pies use the term.
Shepherd’s pie, cottage pie, hachis Parmentier, and even potato pie are all referring to a dish consisting of cooked minced meat topped with mashed potato.
Shepherdess pie is another term I see sometimes that can refer to vegetarian or vegan pies.
So many ways to call a dish that’s just super tasty, and great comfort food.
It’s kind of hard to define exactly what will fall into the comfort food group and what won’t. For instance, something with lots of veggies, I’d guess that most people wouldn’t call that comfort food.
But, call it Shepherd’s Pie, and people are all about calling it comfort food. Maybe it’s the creaminess or the soft texture. Maybe it’s the mashed potatoes.
Whatever it is, Shepherd’s Pie is definitely comfort food. And, it can be a nice healthy option that appeals to many people.
Loaded with veggies
This version is a really healthy one. Loaded with veggies: sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, edamame, leeks, potatoes, all kinds of goodies. And, it’s not loaded up with cream or cheese or butter. This one is delicious, gluten-free, grain free, and can easily be made vegan.
You can even up the veggie content by throwing in a couple of parsnips with the sweet potatoes. Unfortunately, we’ve figured out that the husband doesn’t care for parsnips. He said something about them tasting like floor cleaner. Oh well.
If someone in your house doesn’t like edamame, switch them out for lima beans or green beans.
Want to learn more about leeks? Take a look here where I have some leek tips and tricks.
It takes a little while to get this dish together, but it makes dinner for a few days, or dinners and lunches.
How great would it be if you had a friend who just had a baby and you made this dish to feed their family for a couple of days? Or, as a housewarming dinner for a new neighbor?
I also think this would be great for a big family potluck like Easter or Thanksgiving.
Shepherd’s Pie can be served as is, or serve it with gravy.
Try these great recipes:
Use whatever milk you like
Feel free to use whatever milk you prefer, from whole dairy milk to lower fat dairy to plant-based milks.
Just make sure it’s neutral flavor milk. Unsweetened refrigerated carton almond, soy, or cashew milk will work well.
Whether you use canned lentils or cook them yourself, be sure to drain them well.
Grab a can of lentils if you can find them. My grocery store used to carry canned lentils, but doesn’t any longer. Now I have to go to Sprouts market to get canned lentils. I love the convenience of canned ones.
If you can’t find canned ones, grab some dried lentils and cook them up.
Brown or green dried lentils
Packages may call them brown or green lentils.
To cook dried lentils, examine the dried lentils, making sure there’s no stones in them. Rinse the dried lentils.
Bring a large pot of 6-8 cups of water to a boil, and add 2 cups of lentils. Gently simmer about 15-20 minutes, until they are tender to the bite. Drain off any additional water.
When I cook them from scratch, I like to use about ½ broth and ½ water, and I toss in a bay leaf or two.
I always make more lentils than needed for a recipe so I have leftovers.
Leftover lentils can be thrown in salads, casseroles, soups, even mac & cheese for a flavor and protein boost.
These are my favorite carrots (in the photo above).
I like the long skinny ones that they sell with the tops on. I find these ones to be more flavorful, sweeter, and more tender than baby carrots or the thick woody carrots.
Shepherd’s Pie is great for using up leftovers as well
Leftover mashed potatoes, totally throw them on top of the dish. Leftover roasted green beans, toss ‘em in. Even leftover chicken or Thanksgiving turkey can be tossed into a Shepherd’s Pie.
I think the versatility & deliciousness of the pie is one reason it’s so popular.
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Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
- 1 large sweet potato
- 4 tablespoons olive oil divided use
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 & ¼ teaspoons salt divided use plus more for seasoning if desired
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large russet potatoes, unpeeled and cut into ½– inch to 1-inch cubes
- ½ cup milk
- 1 ½ cups frozen edamame
- 1 ½ cups frozen peas
- 1 ½ cups cooked lentils
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 large onion chopped
- 6 carrots peeled and sliced
- 2 leeks white and pale green parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Cut sweet potato into bite sized pieces, about ½ to 1-inch in size. You want your sweet potato chunks to be roughly uniform in size so they all cook at about the same rate.
- Place the cubed sweet potatoes in a large cast iron skillet or on a baking sheet, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, sprinkle with cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon salt, and some fresh pepper, and toss to coat. Roast in 400° F oven, turning occasionally, for 25-30 minutes, or until crisp and browned outside and just tender inside. Turn the oven off, or continue to preheat the oven but change the temperature to 350° F.
- While the sweet potato roasts, place two medium to large sized pots of water on the stove over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil.
- Add the cubed potatoes to one of the pots of boiling water and cook until tender enough to mash, about 15 minutes. Drain. Put the potatoes through a potato ricer, or smash with a masher, and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, milk, 1 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper. Mix to combine, and taste for seasonings; set aside.
- While the potatoes cook, add the edamame to the second pot of boiling water and cook 4 minutes. Add the green peas, and cook an additional 1 minute. Drain. Stir in cooked lentils and dried thyme, and set aside.
- Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add onion and cook until onion is starting to brown, about 15 minutes. Add sliced carrots and leeks, and sauté until carrots are tender and leeks are translucent, about 7 more minutes. Remove from heat.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- In a 13×9-inch casserole dish, layer the cooked ingredients as follows:
- Onions, leeks, and carrots mixture,
- Edamame, peas, and lentils mixture
- Roasted sweet potato
- Mashed potatoes
- Cover with foil. Casserole may be made ahead up this this point and refrigerated until ready to bake. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Remove foil, and continue to bake for 10 more minutes until there are some golden brown edges on the potatoes.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations, and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary based on brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes, and more.