Vegan Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Parsnip and and Potato Mash

By • October 17, 2012 40 Comments

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Author Notes: OK, even the easiest of shepherd's pies can feel like an undertaking. To make this delicious, hearty dish a lot more accessible, try cooking the lentils and prepping the vegetables one day in advance. On the day of assembly, mash the potatoes and parsnips early in the day, and sautee the veggies and assemble the pie later on, before dinner. Leftovers can easily be frozen. And I dare you not to eat all of the mashed parsnips and potatoes before you even get to finishing the recipe!Gena Hamshaw

Serves 6-8

  • 2 1/2 pounds (about 4 large) russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 6 parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 cup almond, soy, rice, or other non-dairy milk
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided into 2 tbsp and 2 tbsp
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large carrots, diced evenly
  • 2 ribs celery, diced evenly
  • 6 ounces baby bella, cremini, or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups brown or green lentils, dry
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  1. Place potatoes and parsnips in a large pot and submerge in cold water (there should be at least 1 inch of water over the vegetables). Salt water well. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and allow potatoes and parsnips to cook for approximately 25-35 minutes, or until both vegetables are very fork tender. Drain, return the vegetables to the pot, and add 2/3 cup milk, 2 tbsp olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash well with a potato masher. If you need more milk, add the remaining 1/3 cup. Set the mashed potatoes and parsnips aside.
  2. While potatoes are cooking, bring 1 1/2 cup lentils and 3 cups water to a boil. Reduce and simmer until lentils have absorbed all liquid, and are soft (about 30 or 35 minutes). Set lentils aside.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan over medium. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent and golden (10 minutes or so). Add the carrots and celery and cook till both vegetables are tender (another 8 minutes). Add the cremini mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes before adding the lentils, the rosemary, the thyme, and 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Simmer the mixture, stirring well to incorporate flavors. Add more liquid as needed: you don’t want there to be too much broth or liquid in the bottom of the pan, because you’ll get a runny shepherd’s pie, but you do want it to be quite moist. When everything is warm and well mixed, season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Preheat oven to 350. In a large casserole dish, layer the lentil and veggie mixture. Spread the mashed potatoes delicately and evenly over. Bake for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are browning. Sprinkle with extra rosemary, if desired, and serve.

More Great Recipes: Lentils|Potatoes|Entrees|Ribs|Pie

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Comments (40) Questions (1)


7 months ago Änneken

What a great dish! I found the mashed parsnip-potatoes part of it is so outstanding I have made these four times already. Such a winner.


8 months ago Nancy Andres

This dish sounds amazing. I'm going to try it this week. Thanks for the tip you offered about cooking the lentils ahead. I'll do that. Be well. Love well. Lead a colorful life! Nancy Andres @


8 months ago Nancy O'Leary

I incorporated others' suggestions and added the cloves of a roasted head of garlic, some smoked paprika and a few TBSP dijon to the mash which gave great flavor without masking the subtle sweetness of the parsnips, used french green lentils (they hold their shape better) which I cooked in water with a couple bay leaves, then substituted a cup of soaked, drained and chopped dried wild mushrooms for the creminis and used the mushroom soaking liquid instead of the vegetable broth as well as fresh rosemary, thyme and sage. As others suggested I also added some tomato paste and a few splashes red wine vinegar to the lentil-vegetable mix. Really good with deep, rich flavor! Thanks F52!


8 months ago dcfoodie

I agree this dish is a bit labor intensive, but really good. We made this for our Christmas meal and it was a big hit. I added white wine to the simmering liquid to add some more flavor. And I had a lot of potato parsnip mash, too much for the topping, not that it was a problem! Thanks for this great recipe


8 months ago Tinaindenver

This dish was a bit of a faff to make, but I worked on it simultaneously with baking some cookies, so it didn't seem too bad. I also added some red wine right after the mushrooms, and used dried rosemary and thyme from my garden that is more potent than dried herbs in a jar and it was very flavorful. Also, there was enough to serve four people plus enough for a second meal.


9 months ago Amybeth Hurst

Finally, a truly vegan side dish. Yum! Thanks. Amybeth Hurst


9 months ago SugarnStuff

Made this tonight, so good ! I've never been a lover of parsnips, but get them in my CSA. This recipe was perfect, and yes, I had to keep myself from eating all the potato-parsnip mash ! Thanks for a great recipe :)


over 1 year ago Beth

This was awesome! Added bacon, Worcestershire sauce, and Montreal steak seasoning to lentils to make them "beefier" also added dairy...cream and Parmesan cheese made the mash awesome. Sorry, no longer vegan, but superb recipe!


over 1 year ago Katie Koteen

Amazing. I'm always looking for things to do with parsnips.


over 1 year ago caseymsy

Tried this yesterday .loved it, tweaked it slightly, added some crushed tomato and used potato only.sprinkled cheese on top ,so not truly vegan.


over 1 year ago Christine T

As per the advice of some comments, I added tomato paste, and red wine vinegar to the lentil mix. I also used shiitake mushrooms as I prefer those. What is a really great addition as well is to add a balsamic reduction or aged balsamic to the dish after its plated. It adds some extra flavor and a nice sweetness. I am definitely going to make this again, and I'm planning to try with sweet potato next time.


over 1 year ago infinitezest

I added tomato paste, fresh minced rosemary, and a heavy splash of red wine vinegar to the lentil vegetable mixture. I also added an entire (mashed) roasted head of garlic to the potato-parsnip mash for extra flavor. It was a hit at Thanksgiving and the leftovers were great!


almost 2 years ago Emily

To bulk up the flavor, I added half a cup a red wine to the veggies before I added the mushrooms to the pan and I also added some tomato paste and cornstarch to the veggie broth. Between those add-ins and the dried rosemary, this definitely was not a bland dish. Everyone went back for seconds!


almost 2 years ago realfoods

This is a marvelous recipe, and a perfect one for thanksgiving!


almost 2 years ago calangus

This comment comes as I'm eating my second helping. This dish creates a wonderful memory.I added some dried porcini. It has a really earthy fall taste to it. This is a beautiful recipe and I'll be making it again in the near future.


almost 2 years ago Hope :)

Oh, this looks fantastic. A perfect addition to our college-football-party menu. :)


almost 2 years ago Tobius

Made this tonight, and it was really good! I left the mushrooms out, and it didn't hurt it one bit, I also left out the rosemary, but other than that, I did as the recipe said, yummy. I even hate lentils, so I was not sure I would like this, but surprise on me, I did :-)


almost 2 years ago smonfor

Made this tonight - I'm not vegan, or vegetarian, but am trying to incorporate more meatless options for budget reasons. I used cauliflower instead of parsnips and then I added tomatoes and peas to the lentil mix. I think next time I would also put in tomato paste and also use salt pork with the lentils to add more meat flavor for my husband and help take away the grainy lentil texture some more. I added butter as another commenter suggested, and that helped - but I think the tomato paste and the salt pork would finish it off. Will definitely make again.


about 2 years ago Dante Holmes

I am just learning about vegan due health reasons, and so I am looking for recipes that don't use soy or a lot beans, and it is not easy, but this looks very doable, will be trying in the near future..I may have to take the mushrooms out, not allowed those very often, will it ruin the recipe if I leave those out? Thanks..


over 2 years ago Ceege

I can't wait to try this dish. Since I am the only one in family that is vegan, would it be possible to make the full amount, divide into 6 individual casseroles, freeze and store. I would like to have them available for easy dinners and just have to thaw and bake in oven? Has anyone tried this method?