Hey there, friends. I’m not a vegetarian, but I am trying to cut back on my meat consumption by planning at least one or two meatless meals a week. Lentil Shepherd’s Pie is a tasty option and the perfect comfort food for cool weather.
Turns out there are thousands of recipes for Lentil Shepherd’s Pie on the internet (who even knew??). This is my version — based on our personal likes and dislikes. Aside from taste, I focused on making the dish budget-friendly. [I don’t like buying pricey ingredients that only get half used, so there’s none of that here.]
The other great thing about this recipe is that you can easily switch it up to make it vegan or to suit your own vegetable preferences. Be sure to check out a few ideas under, “Get Creative With it” below.
Let’s Take a Look at the Key Ingredients
First up, a true Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb. If you use ground beef, technically it’s called Cottage Pie — but we’re replacing the beef with lentils and calling it whatever the heck we want!
Lentils — I’m discovering that lentils are a tasty, budget-friendly substitution for ground beef in almost any dish. You want to use brown or green lentils for this recipe; red lentils would turn too mushy. I used rinsed dried lentils (not canned). There’s no need to soak them overnight as with some dried beans.
Nutrition-wise, lentils are a powerhouse. They’re low in calories and high in protein. They also have plenty of fiber and contain potassium, folate and iron.
Parsnips — Stick with me on this one! The recipe calls for a mix of regular potatoes mashed with parsnips, which add a nice peppery taste. Parsnips are very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. They’re also a good source of dietary fiber and vitamin C, among other nutrients.
Parsnips add a lot of flavor and nutrition to this dish while cutting down on added butter and salt in the potatoes. If you don’t want to use parsnips, just replace them with more potatoes.
Vegetables: I used fresh carrots and celery. If you want to speed up the prep, you could substitute frozen mixed vegetables.
Get Creative with Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
You can easily make this recipe vegan with a few simple swaps: use vegan butter, plant-based milk and a vegan Worcestershire sauce.
You can also swap out the vegetables. Many Lentil Shepherd Pie recipes include mushrooms. If you’re a fan, then add one cup diced mushrooms and cut back on the carrots or celery. You could also add frozen peas, corn or just about any other fresh or frozen vegetable.
Check out these other Recipes with Lentils:
Three of the Best Lentil Soups with Lemon
How to make Shepherd’s Pie with Lentils
I’m not gonna lie: it takes a little bit of time to put this casserole together, but it’s not hard to do. Let’s take a quick look at the steps. Full directions are in the recipe below.
- Start by preparing the topping: you’ll need to boil the potatoes and parsnips in water until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain and mash them together, adding butter, milk and salt as desired.
- Make the filling: You’ll start by cooking the onion and garlic in olive oil. Then add the vegetables and seasonings. Cook briefly and then add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and red wine (if you’re using it).
- Next add the lentils and vegetable broth. Simmer on low about 30 to 35 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
- Lightly grease a deep-dish pie plate or 8-inch square pan. Fill the bottom with the lentil mixture and top it all with the mashed potatoes and parsnips. Bake in a 400-degree oven about 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are a light golden color.
Easy Lentil Shepherd’s PieCourse: Main
Creamy mashed potatoes and parsnips top a nutritious and flavor-filled mix of lentils and vegetables.
- For the Filling:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 to 1 cup peeled carrots, chopped
3/4 to 1 cup chopped celery
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine (or use more vegetable broth or tomato paste)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed and picked through
Vegetable broth, 3-4 cups ( Adjust the amount based on your vegetables and if the liquid evaporates too much; I used the full 4 cups.)
- For the Parsnip Mashed Potato Topping
3 medium to large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces. Russets are good for this.
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, optional
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
- In a large pot, cover the potatoes and parsnips with water by a few inches. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until tender, about 30 to 35 minutes.
- While the potatoes and parsnips are cooking, prepare the filling. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat, add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, carrots, and seasonings. Then add the wine, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the mixture to a low boil and cook about five minutes.
- Next add the lentils and vegetable broth. Start with 3 cups vegetable broth and add more if the mix starts to get dry or to stick on the bottom — up to 4 cups total. Simmer on low, covered, about 30-35 minutes until the lentils are tender.
- Preheat the oven to 400-degrees. Drain the water from the potatoes and parsnips and mash them, adding milk, butter and garlic powder as desired.
- Lightly grease a deep-dish pie plate or 8-inch square casserole dish. Fill the bottom with the lentil mixture and top with the mashed potato mix, spreading them evenly to cover the lentils.
- Cook in the oven about 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are a light golden color. Allow to cool slightly and then serve warm. Enjoy!
- Lentil Shepherd’s Pie keeps in the refrigerator, covered, for about 3-4 days. You can also freeze it for up to three months.
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Did you give this recipe a try? Please leave a comment or feel free to share your own favorite version of meatless Shepherd’s Pie.