This vegetarian shepherd’s pie is winter comfort food at its best. It’s my take on my grandmother’s “best shepherd’s pie ever”. Lentils and vegetables form a rich umami base which is topped with cheesy mashed potato. Or go for the vegan version instead.
When I first posted this lentil shepherd’s pie I called it Granny’s shepherd’s pie. But it really isn’t. It reminds me of my grandmother because if ever anyone asks me what my favourite dish is, I’m most likely to say Granny’s shepherd’s pie. Hers was a true British dish. It’s become a legend in our family and often comes up in conversation at family get togethers.
It’s been many years now since I’ve eaten it; my grandmother is no longer alive and I’ve been a vegetarian for the last twenty years or so. Because of this, I’ve renamed it vegetarian shepherd’s pie. But whenever I eat it, it always reminds me of my much loved grandmother.
I don’t even know how Granny made her version, except for one thing, she always added baked beans to her shepherd’s pie. This is the legacy she has left. So although I make my shepherd’s pie with lentils rather than lamb and tend to use whatever vegetables I have to hand, I always add a tin of baked beans.
Oxo Good Grips
As always, it’s good to get tooled up for the job. Our tin opener has been faltering of late and I have never had a decent sized serving spoon. Luckily, OXO have come to the rescue – just in time to make this vegetarian shepherd’s pie.
The OXO Good Grips range of utensils are specifically designed for comfort and ease of use. I needed the tin opener for the baked beans. What a joy to open the tin without a hitch. It was easy to use and to quote OXO has “an oversized knob” which does indeed turn with little effort. The handles have a particularly comfortable grip too.
The large spoon was perfect for scooping out a whole portion intact and it dished up the pie beautifully. The stainless steel makes it particularly durable and again the handle is very comfortable. Both implements are sturdy and stylish and are welcome additions to my kitchen utensils.
As well as a large plate of cake, I came away from our Clandestine Cake Club meeting last week, with a bottle of Mrs Middleton’s Oil. Our CCC organiser, Ellie Michell, has many strings to her bow and this cold pressed rapeseed oil, grown on the family farm in Bedfordshire, is one of them. It is nutty in flavour and has a beautiful golden colour. It’s fabulous used as a salad dressing or as a simple dip for bread. I was certainly happy to use it in my lentil shepherd’s pie.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
I’ve not made a veggie shepherd’s pie for quite a while as it is not a spring or summer dish, But now autumn is upon us, it feels like the right sort of time for something warm, comforting and bathed in nostalgia. As it’s now British Food Fortnight which celebrates the glory of good British food and runs from 21 September to 6 October this year, I give you my vegetarian take on Granny’s Shepherd’s Pie.
I tend to use whatever vegetables I have to hand, but carrots and celery are a sort of must have. Mushrooms are always a good addition and I have a secret ingredient for extra richness and colour. We grow our own sarpo potatoes, so I was able to use those for the mash. The quantity given in the recipe here made us one large (ish) pie and one small one. It’s definitely enough to feed six hungry people.
Oh, this pie is so good, I can’t tell you. It gave the two of us three substantial dinners and if we weren’t so greedy would have done four.
Last night, I arrived home from work, soaking wet, tired and hungry. CT had the mini version in the oven and the smell when I opened the front door was not only mouth-watering but so comforting too. My mood quickly changed from despondency to delight. A mouthful of this takes me right back to Granny’s house and I can’t help feeling that my shepherd’s pie is nearly as good as hers.
Chocolate Shepherd’s Pie
I have a magic ingredient for my vegetarian shepherd’s pie. You’ve probably guessed it. Yes that’s right, it’s chocolate. You may wonder, but do try it. It makes this savoury dish, somehow even more savoury. Does chocolate, perhaps, contain that elusive umami flavour? It also gives a nice rich brown colour to the gravy and has a thickening effect too.
The chocolate isn’t detectable as such, but it adds richness, thickness and colour which turns a good dish into an exceptional one.
Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
For a vegan version of this shepherd’s pie, use this recipe for dairy-free parsnip and potato mash instead of the potato topping in the recipe below. I’ve done this many times and it’s just as delicious.
The base is completely vegan anyway. If you go for the chocolate option, just make sure that you use vegan chocolate.
Other Savoury Chocolate Recipes You Might Like
- Chocolate bean burgers
- Mushroom & chocolate risotto
- Chocolate & chilli lime bread
- Chocolate refried beans
- Smoked paprika & cocoa roasted cauliflower florets
- Welsh pancakes with leek & mushroom chocolate sauce
I’ve even made a six course chocolate themed dinner which was even better than it sounds. And for even more savoury chocolate inspiration, take a look at the savoury chocolate category on Tin and Thyme.
Keep in Touch
Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make this veggie shepherd’s pie, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. And do please rate the recipe. Have you any top tips? Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.
If you’d like even more dinner recipes, follow the link and you’ll find I have quite a lot of them. All delicious, of course.
Lentil Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie. PIN IT.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie – The Recipe
Veggie Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
- 8 oz whole brown lentils
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 large carrots – chopped
- 1 large stick celery – chopped
- 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1 large onion – chopped
- 1 courgette – chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 8 chestnut mushrooms
- several sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tsp tamari or shoyu (soy sauce)
- 400 g tin baked beans
- 25 g 70% dark chocolate (optional) (I used 100%)
- 5 large floury potatoes – scrubbed and chunked
- 4 tbsp milk
- 120 g cheddar cheese – grated
- salt & pepper to taste
- Soak the lentils for a few hours in cold water or for 1 hour in hot water. This reduces the cooking time. Wash well and just cover with water. Add the bay leaves and bring to the boil.
- Add the carrots and celery and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
- In a separate pan, fry the onions in the oil for a few minutes. Chop two of the garlic cloves and add to the pan. then add the courgette followed by the mushrooms. Fry for about 10 minutes.
- Add the fried vegetables to the lentils together with the thyme, beans and soy sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste if desired.
- Simmer for a further 5 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate. Stir well and pour into a large casserole dish or two smaller ones.
- Boil the potatoes in slightly salted water with the remaining clove of garlic for about 15 minutes or until soft.
- Drain the potatoes and garlic, add the milk and mash. Add 100g of the cheese and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy.
- Spread the mash over the lentils. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and bake at 180℃ (160℃ fan, 350℉, Gas 4) for about 25 minutes when the lentils should be bubbling and the mash nicely browned on top.
Of course being British, you’d hope that most of the ingredients involved would not only be British, but as local as possible. Whilst I can’t claim that the lentils are British, most everything else was either grown in Cornwall or bought from small local shops.
I buy the lovely organic milk I use from our local market and it comes from Ayreshire cows from Helsett Farm on the north coast of Cornwall. The potatoes, garlic and courgettes were grown by my own fair hands, so you can’t get much more local than that. I am thus submitting this to Shop Local over at Elizabeth’s Kitchen.
As I used sprigs of fresh thyme from the garden as well as bay leaves, I am entering this into Cooking with Herbs hosted by Karen of Lavender and Lovage.
I’m also sharing my chocolate veggie shepherd’s pie with Lost in Food for #CookBlogShare.