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
Test Kitchen Notes
Shepherd’s pie screams comfort food, and this vegan version is no exception. Traditional shepherd’s pie is made with ground lamb, even though it’s often confused with cottage pie, its ground-beef counterpart. Recipe developer Gena Hamshaw smartly swaps lentils for the traditional ground meat in this vegan option, which give the pie substance and makes it hearty and filling. She also adds sautéed mushrooms to give the lentils that extra boost of umami you’d typically get from meat.
Shepherd’s pie is usually topped with mashed potatoes and baked until the top is golden brown and just slightly crunchy; in Hamshaw’s adaptation, the mashed potato topping gets bulked up with parsnips, giving it a slight tang and sharpness. The resulting purée is simply irresistible: Hamshaw isn’t exaggerating when she warns how hard it is not to eat all the topping before you put it on the shepherd’s pie. In the end, you get a hearty dish made up of a symphony of textures and flavors. It's almost guaranteed to please meat-lovers and vegetarians alike. Don’t just take it from us—this review from Ana S. says it all, “Shared with neighbors and they all asked for the recipe. A winner!”
A few notes on cooking this dish: As she writes above, Hamshaw recommends splitting up the cooking into two days, or at least prepping some components ahead. Lentils are easy to prepare ahead of time and can be stored in the fridge for up to three days. The potato-parsnip purée can also be made ahead; boil the potatoes and parsnips the day before and store them in the fridge until you’re ready to mash and assemble. We’d even recommend preparing the entire dish (up to the final bake) ahead of time and storing it (tightly wrapped) in the fridge for a day or two, then popping it in the oven to finish whenever you’re about ready to eat. With a little meal-prepping this dish goes from weekend project to easy, weeknight dinner. And the best part? The leftovers somehow taste even better the next day. —The Editors
- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes
- Serves 6-8
2 1/2 pounds
(about 4 large) russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
almond, soy, rice, or other non-dairy milk
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
olive oil, divided into 2 tbsp and 2 tbsp
large onion, diced
cloves garlic, minced (up to 3)
large carrots, diced evenly
ribs celery, diced evenly
baby bella, cremini, or button mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups
brown or green lentils, dry
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.