Lentil and Root Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

DIFFICULTY: MODERATE | COOK TIME: 60 MINUTES
YIELD: 8-10 SERVINGS

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While many people associate Shepherd's Pie with Saint Patrick's Day, this Lentil and Root Vegetable Shepherd's Pie is one you'll want to make whenever you need chilly-day comfort food — because that's when root vegetables are at their best.

Traditionally, Shepherd's Pie is made with ground beef or lamb, and topped with mashed potatoes. In other words: not healthy, or compassionate. Our vegan version — made with lentils and vegetables — provides ample taste and texture in a hearty, flavorful casserole you can be proud to put on your table.

Our recipe uses essentially the same ingredients as traditional recipes, while replacing the meat with French lentils. These lentils are smaller, darker and hold their shape better than green lentils; they’re rich in flavor; and they provide protein, iron, and fiber.

Instead of the traditional potato topping, our recipe calls for a combination of root vegetables. They make for a more complex flavor profile and — rich in folate, vitamin C and fiber — deliver long-lasting, healthy, compassionate energy.

NOTE: The filling and topping can be made in advance, making assembly a cinch when you're in a hurry.

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INGREDIENTS

For the Filling:

  • 2 cups French lentils, rinsed

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 cup of thinly slice leeks (from the white and light green parts of 1 to 2 leeks) (or substitute 1 medium onion)

  • 1 cup carrots, chopped small (from 3 to 4 carrots)

  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 cup celery, chopped small (from 3 to 4 stalks of celery)

  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 cup vegetable broth

  • 2 cups frozen green peas

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Topping:

  • 1 large turnip (about 1/2 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 large celeriac bulb (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vegan butter

  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast

  • Salt

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INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

  2. Place lentils in a medium pot, covered by about 2 inches of salted water.

  3. Bring to a boil then simmer until tender, but slightly firm, about 20 minutes.

  4. Drain water and set aside.

  5. Place root vegetables in a large pot, covered by about 2 inches of salted water.

  6. Bring to a gentle boil and continue cooking until vegetables can be easily pierced by a fork, about 20 minutes.

  7. Drain and place in a food processor with vegan butter and nutritional yeast.

  8. Pulse to blend until smooth. (Alternatively, use a potato masher, but expect a lumpy texture.) Do this in two batches, if necessary, so that everything purees evenly.

  9. Taste, and adjust seasonings.

  10. While the lentils and root vegetables cook, heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.

  11. Add leeks, carrots, celery, and thyme.

  12. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  13. Cook until tender for about 10 minutes.

  14. Add garlic and cook for another minute or two.

  15. When vegetables are tender, sprinkle cornstarch over vegetables and stir.

  16. Add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and broth, then stir to mix.

  17. Add the cooked lentils and frozen peas to the pan and stir to combine. (If the sauce is too thick, add a little broth (or water) to thin.)

  18. Taste, and adjust seasonings.

  19. Transfer mixture to a lightly oiled, oven-proof baking dish and spread evenly.

  20. Spread the root vegetable puree evenly on top of the lentil filling.

  21. Rake it over with a fork or make swirls with a spoon to create peaks that will brown nicely.

  22. Place the dish into the preheated oven and cook until browned, about 25 to 30 minutes.

  23. Serve immediately.