Yay! This vegetarian Shepherd’s pie was my first recipe request from a reader, and I had so much fun making it. Born in England, Shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with ground lamb, vegetables and mashed potatoes. It is a perfect meal for a cold weather day, and a dish that I came to love during my one Winter in Montana. I used to order it all the time at the Celtic Cowboy in Great Falls. This hearty vegetarian version substitutes lentils for ground meat and is loaded with veggies, simmered in a dark rich gravy with red wine and fresh herbs, then topped with the creamiest buttered mashed potatoes and baked. What’s not to love? This is comfort food at it’s finest!
Tips for Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
- Read the recipe through a couple times before starting. Since you will have a few things cooking at once, it is important to know where you are going.
- Don’t forget to cook your lentils ahead of time! Believe me, you don’t want to get to the end of this recipe and realize there are still lentils to be cooked. This happened to me the second time I made this. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it’s so much easier to gather all your ingredients before you start cooking, especially when you have a couple things going at once. This recipe has quite a few ingredients so I highly recommend setting everything out before you get started.
- Don’t over mash or over stir your potatoes. They will lose their creaminess and become “gummy” and less easy to spread. Mash just until they reach the proper consistency, and gently stir in the warm butter mixture. As soon as the ingredients are combined, STOP STIRRING. The hotter your potatoes, the easier they will be to spread on top of your Shepherd’s Pie.
So, tamari is not a traditional Shepherd’s pie ingredient, but I found it added just what I was looking for when I was playing around with this recipe. It is a rich sauce that contains that strong umami flavor that can be so important for enhancing the flavor in a dish without meat. If you don’t have any on hand and don’t care to purchase a bottle, you can easily substitute a low sodium soy sauce. Check out this interesting article by Masterclass if you are interested in learning about the differences between the two. Just keep in mind that soy sauce tends to be much saltier than tamari, so you want to go with a low sodium option or adjust the salt in the recipe accordingly. Another option is to skip the tamari all together and use all Worcestershire.
I hope you enjoy this vegetarian Shepherd’s pie. Don’t forget to top it with plenty of freshly cracked black pepper at the table. It’s the best part! A little extra grated parmesan cheese on top also makes this meal extra delicious. Be sure to check out some of my other vegetarian recipes while you are here! Thanks for reading.
Other Vegetarian Recipes:
Hearty Southwestern Vegetarian Chili
Easy Tomato Soup with Roasted Red Peppers
Pesto Mushroom Gorgonzola Pizza
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
Hearty vegetarian take on the classic Shepherd’s pie. A dark, rich gravy loaded with veggies and lentils simmered with red wine and fresh herbs then topped with the creamiest buttered mashed potatoes.
- 3 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into quarters
- kosher salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Shepherd’s Pie Filling
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 cups yellow onion, diced
- 1/2 cup celery, diced
- kosher salt
- 16 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup red wine (preferably pinot noir or cabernet sauvignon)
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs freshy rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1 cup cooked lentils
Make the Mashed Potatoes
- Add potatoes to a large pot and cover by 1 inch with cold water.
- Add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and bring water to a boil. Simmer for around 15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. (You can go ahead and get started on the filling while the potatoes cook).
- With about 5 minutes left on the potatoes, make your butter/milk mixture.
- In a separate saucepan, melt the butter with the garlic cloves over medium low heat. Cook the garlic for a couple of minutes until aromatic. Add the milk, black pepper and kosher salt to taste (I use about 1 1/2 teaspoons). Heat until milk is warmed through and stir in parmesan cheese. Remove the whole garlic cloves. Remove from heat and cover if needed to keep warm.
- When potatoes are fork tender, drain and rinse them with cold water, then return them to the pot.
- Use a potato masher to mash potatoes until they are smooth and no chunks remain. Do not over mash.
- Stir in warmed butter mixture until just combined. You do not want to over-stir, otherwise your potatoes can become “gummy”.
Make Shepherd’s Pie Filling
- Heat butter and olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or large pot.
- When shimmering, add carrots, onion, celery, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and cook for 7-10 minutes until softened and slightly browned.
- Add mushrooms, black pepper and garlic and cook for 5 minutes more.
- Add tomato paste and flour and cook, stirring continuously for 1 minute.
- Deglaze with red wine, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to release anything sticking to the bottom.
- Add tamari, Worcestershire, vegetable stock, thyme rosemary, and bay leaf and bring to a simmer.
- At this point, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Simmer the filling for 20 minutes scraping the bottom of the pot occasionally to make sure nothing sticks.
- Stir in lentils and peas.
- Test for seasoning and add additional kosher salt/pepper to taste. (I added 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt).
- If you did not use a Dutch oven, transfer filling to a 9×9 or 9×13 inch baking dish.
- Cover filling with a thin layer of mashed potatoes (you will only need about 3/4 of the mashed potatoes you made, yay leftover mashed potatoes!)
- Sprinkle the top with smoked paprika.
Bake Shepherd’s Pie
- Bake in 375 degree oven uncovered for 15 minutes.
- Place under the broiler for 5 or so minutes to get everything nice and golden.
- Avoid over mashing or over mixing your potatoes
- Allow Shepherd’s pie to cool before serving.
- Serve with LOTS of freshly cracked black pepper and freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired.
- You can substitute low sodium soy sauce for tamari or use all Worchestire
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: Mains
- Method: Stove-Top/Oven
- Cuisine: British Inspired