This Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie is quite possibly the most hearty and comforting meatless meal there ever was. A flavorful lentil stew is blanketed by a layer of mashed sweet potatoes and garnished with fresh thyme. This post is brought to you by Canadian Lentils as part of their #LoveALentil campaign. #sponsored
One thing I’m grateful for is the fact that it’s finally starting to cool down here in California. Oh hello fall, nice of you to join us. You’re just in time for winter to roll up. I’m sitting here with a nice cup of tea and a blanket wrapped around my shoulders, watching the raindrops fall outside my mom’s dining room window, and it is glorious.
Granted, part of this tickled sense of satisfaction I’m feeling is because rain is such a scarcity in these parts, so whenever it does rain I feel like I have to stop whatever I’m doing and fully enjoy it because who knows when it will happen again. This drought is no bueno, folks.
Shepherd’s Pie – the ultimate comfort food
The sudden chill in the air has got me craving warm comfort food like no other. And it’s finally cool enough that I actually want to get the oven going on a regular basis.
One of the things I love making in cold weather is shepherd’s pie. Traditionally it’s comprised of a hearty ground beef stew covered in a blanket of mashed potatoes. But I actually prefer vegetarian versions since I’m not eating much meat these days.
I’m teaming up with Canadian Lentils today to bring you this nourishing vegetarian shepherd’s pie with lentil ragu and a buttery sweet potato topping.
Why this recipe for Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie works:
- Lentils are an amazing stand-in for meat because they provide the substantial texture and filling protein that the meat usually provides.
- I made sure to bulk up the flavors with tons of savory goodness in the form of fresh herbs, garlic and a dash of Worcestershire sauce for good measure.
- For topping, in place of traditional white potatoes, I went for sweet potatoes which add a wonderful autumnal color to this vegetarian shepherd’s pie.
- Before making the topping, bring the butter and milk to room temperature, or even gently heat them on the stovetop, before adding them to the sweet potatoes. Not only will the sweet potatoes absorb the warm dairy much easier, but you also won’t have to work them as much.
- As a shortcut, you can use an immersion blender to make the sweet potato topping. This will also make it smoother than a puree made with a potato masher.
- Brown or green lentils work best for this recipe as they hold their shape better than red lentils.
- My favorite way to make this lentil sweet potato shepherd’s pie is in cute little individual ramekins, but if you don’t happen to have any you can also make this in a 1-quart baking dish.
- Traditional white mashed potatoes would do well in this recipe too so feel free to use them instead of sweet potatoes.
- If you’re not a fan of potatoes or want to lower the calories of this vegetarian shepherd’s pie, use mashed cauliflower as a topping.
Can I make this Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie vegan?
Yes, that is absolutely possible. Simple swap milk for coconut milk (or coconut cream) and use coconut oil or vegan earth balance butter instead of butter when making the sweet potato topping. Worcester sauce can be easily replaced with soy sauce.
For baking whole sweet potatoes, preheat your oven to 400° F. Pierce each sweet potato several times with the tines of a fork and place them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Bake the potatoes until tender, for about 45 minutes. Take them out of the oven and let them cool slightly before mashing them.
Can you make this Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie ahead of time?
You can prepare the recipe as written and let the vegetarian shepherd’s pie cool completely, then refrigerate. Alternatively, you can prepare the recipe as written but don’t bake it. Refrigerate the shepherd’s pie until you’re ready to serve, then preheat the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Lentil Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
This Lentil Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie is quite possibly the most hearty and comforting vegetarian meal there ever was. A flavorful lentil stew is blanketed by a layer of mashed sweet potatoes and garnished with fresh thyme.
- 3 sweet potatoes roasted and slightly cooled
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 2 carrots diced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 cup cooked lentils
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce for vegetarian/vegan option
- 1 1/2 cups spinach
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Separate flesh of sweet potatoes from skins and place in a medium-sized bowl. Discard skins. Mash together sweet potato with butter, milk and salt (I used an immersion blender to ensure smoothness). Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Add diced onions and carrots and cook until onions are translucent about 5-7 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for another minute.
Add cooked lentils, broth and Worcester sauce to the pot and bring to a simmer. Add spinach, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper and simmer until broth is absorbed. Discard bay leaf.
Transfer lentil mixture to 4 individual ramekins or a baking dish and spread an even layer of sweet potato mixture on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves if desired.