Comfort food is my favorite. I love the classics, but I also like to make my own variations of some of my favorite dishes. I’ve been making shepherd’s pie for my family for years. I usually make it lighter by using ground turkey instead of the traditional beef or lamb, but this time I wanted to make a veggie-rich, meat-free version to enjoy throughout the fall and winter season.
The great thing about this dish is that it uses many ingredients that I always keep on hand, like dried lentils and an assortment of veggies. The lentils and mushrooms make a great meat alternative in this hearty dish and the blend of butternut squash, carrots, and sweet potato also help to make this meal both wholesome and satisfying.
This dish makes about 4 to 6 servings, depending on your appetite. You can serve it in a large casserole dish or in individual ramekins, as I like to do.
Top with the mashed potatoes and bake until bubbly. The nice thing about this humble pie, is that you can substitute any of the ingredients out for whatever you have on hand. Use white potatoes instead of the sweet potatoes or in place of the butternut squash. Add corn or green beans instead of peas or add a different bean in place of the lentils. You can even add ground meat for extra protein, although my meat-loving family thoroughly enjoyed this vegetarian meal. 🙂
I hope you enjoy this fall-inspired shepherd’s pie! If you do, please let me know how you liked it in the comments below!
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- 1 cup dried green or brown Lentils
- 4 cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 2-4 tablespoons butter (dairy free can be used)
- 1-2 tablespoons Maple Syrup (honey, coconut sugar, or brown sugar can be used instead)
- couple dashes of cinnamon, optional
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons butter or oil of choice
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 stalk of celery chopped finely, (about ¼ cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped small
- 1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped small
- 1 cup baby bella mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
- drained half-cooked lentils
- 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence (can use dried thyme instead)
- ¼ teaspoon pepper, or more to taste
- 1 Bay Leaf, optional
- 1–2 cups low sodium vegetable broth, more may be needed (adjust salt depending on sodium in broth)
- ¼ cup red wine (or 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
- few dashes of soy sauce, tamari, or liquid aminos
- ½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 1 cup frozen peas
- In a medium sized pot, combine 1 cup lentils, water, salt and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, strain, discard bay leaf, and set aside to add to filling later.
- Meanwhile, put peeled and chopped sweet potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Place on the stove and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to simmer for 15–20 minutes, depending on how small you cut them, until tender. Drain water and return potatoes to the pot. Add butter, a pinch of salt, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Use a potato masher or mixer to blend potato mixture until fluffy. Cover and set aside for later.
- In a large pot or dutch oven, melt 2 tablespoons of butter/oil. Add onion and celery. Sauté for 3-4 minutes and then add the garlic, squash, carrots, and mushrooms. Continue to cook until garlic and mushrooms are softened, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in drained lentils, herbs, seasonings, ½ cup broth, red wine, tomato paste, and a few dashes of soy sauce. Cover pot and let cook over med-low heat for 5 minutes or so. Taste filling and add salt to taste. Continue to cook, adding broth little by little, to keep mixture moist. Right before veggies are almost tender, add frozen peas and additional broth, as needed. Cover and simmer 5 more minutes, or until lentils are tender.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Pour filling into a 2.5 quart oven safe dish or into 4-5 individual ramekin dishes. Top with sweet potato mash and spread evenly over filling. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until thoroughly heated and top is lightly browned.