This vegan shepherd’s pie is a delicious, hearty stew of mushrooms and lentils covered by mashed potatoes. Perfect for Thanksgiving or anytime!
When Nava Atlas asked me at the beginning of last year to take the photos for Vegan Holiday Kitchen, I thought about it for about a day and then gave her an emphatic “Yes!” She warned me that she would need more photos than I’d taken for her previous book, Vegan Express–about five times as many–but I’d learned so much from that experience that I was happy to get the chance to work with Nava again.
In the spring of 2010, just as it was starting to heat up here in the Deep South, we got to work on Thanksgiving recipes while ingredients like butternut squash were still available. I may have been blogging about spring vegetables like asparagus, but it still seemed like autumn in my house as I prepared and photographed fall favorites from Coconut Butternut Squash Soup to Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Hint of Chocolate:
Nava spent much of 2010 writing the over 200 recipes in her book, pausing when she created a particularly photogenic one to send me the recipe so that I could cook it in my kitchen and take its photo on my dining room table. It was something of an art project for me, as I tried to recreate the feeling of the holiday associated with each recipe. It may have been a steamy Mississippi June outside, but, inside, my dining room table was set with silver candlesticks for Rosh Hashanah as Sweet Potato Tzimmes got its photo-op. It felt like a year-long celebration for my family, who were happy to feast on the food after each photo shoot.
Over the course of that year, I learned a lot about Nava’s style of cooking. She favors ingredients that can be found in almost any supermarket in the U.S.–beans, grains, tofu, and vegetables–and when she gets “fancy,” its through the use of readily-available ingredients like sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and pine nuts. Though there are recipes that call for packaged vegan products like seitan and non-dairy cheese, the emphasis is on seasonal produce.
In the Thanksgiving chapter, for instance, you won’t find recipes for faux turkey but will discover main dishes featuring the “Three Sisters” of Native American mythology–squash, corn, and beans–as well as grain-stuffed winter squash and a pot pie filled with veggies. Many of the recipes are very easy, and even the more complicated ones use time-savers like canned beans and packaged baked tofu, which you can choose to use or opt to make from scratch. Like most vegan cookbooks, Vegan Holiday Kitchen does use oil, though in most cases it can be eliminated, as in the shepherd’s pie below.
The book is divided into five chapters revolving around the most food-centric holidays–Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Holiday Season, Jewish Holidays (Passover, Rosh Hashanah, and Hanukkah), Easter, Independence Day and Summer Entertaining–as well as a sixth chapter on Brunches, Appetizers, and Potluck Dishes. Each chapter includes appetizers, salads, side dishes, and desserts as well as main dishes, and the recipes are beautifully laid-out, one to a page, and are labeled so that people looking for gluten-free, soy-free, or nut-free options can tell at a glance whether a recipe fits their needs.
While the recipes are great, at least as important to me are the chapter introductions, which Nava fills with tips for creating stress-free holiday feasts and a wealth of information about holiday traditions, as well as extras such as an extensive guide to vegan grilling. (In addition to taking the photos, I contributed five recipes that have previously appeared on this blog, including my favorite fat-free cake.)
I’m definitely biased, but I think Vegan Holiday Kitchen is a beautiful book. When it comes to my own photography, I’m my harshest critic, but I’m happy with most of the photos as well as the fabulous job the designer did with the layout and cover. (The photos you see in this post are “rejects,” not the ones actually used in the book.) It would make a wonderful gift for anyone–vegan or not–who is interested in expanding their holiday menu options.
This vegan shepherd’s pie was a big hit with my family, and though it appears in the Christmas chapter of the book, it would be a delicious main dish for Thanksgiving, too. Like all of the recipes in the book, this hearty pie will appeal to omnivores as well as vegans. And it’s safe for those of you on gluten-free diets as long as you use gluten-free breadcrumbs. Happy Holidays!
Be sure to check out all of my Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes!
Nava's Hearty Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie
- 8 large or 10 medium potatoes
- 2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated margarine* optional, see notes
- 1/2 cup rice milk
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil* optional, see notes
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 6 ounces cremini or baby bella mushrooms
- 2 15-ounce cans Lentils or about 3 1/2 cups cooked lentils with a little of their cooking liquid, lightly drained but not rinsed
- 2 tablespoons dry red wine optional
- 1-2 Tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos*
- 2 teaspoons seasoning blend such as Spike or Mrs. Dash
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
- 8-10 Ounces baby spinach or arugula leaves
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs gluten-free if needed
- Peel and dice the potatoes. Place in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small mixing bowl.
- Stir the margarine into the potatoes until melted, then add the rice milk and mash until fluffy. Cover and set aside until needed. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
- Add the lentils and their liquid and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the optional wine, soy sauce, seasoning blend, thyme, and pepper. Cook gently for 5 minutes. Combine the cornstarch with just enough water to dissolve in a small container. Stir into the lentil mixture.
- Add the spinach, a little at a time, cooking just until it’s all wilted down. Remove from the heat; taste to adjust seasonings to your liking.
- Lightly oil a 2-quart (preferably round) casserole dish, or two deep-dish pie plates. Scatter the breadcrumbs evenly over the bottom. Pour in the lentil mixture, then spread the potatoes evenly over the top. If using two pie plates, divide each mixture evenly between them.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to turn golden and slightly crusty. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into wedges to serve.
Nutritional info is approximate.
Please pin and share:
TashFebruary 11, 2012 at 1:55 am
Im new to the whole Vegan thing, my partner and i have just started it (been a week now and we have failed twice). My problem is, i have never cooked for a vegan before so i am completely new to what i can and can’t use for making my dishes and how to what to use in replacement of animal based products. Another problem i have is that my partner is allergic to nuts, he doesn’t seem to have a problem with almonds but that is all we know and he isn’t willing to try any others to test, and a lot of the replacements happen to be nuts.
Well it been good to come across your blog, i will be definitely saving it, Shepards Pie was always a favourite of mine so i can’t wait to try this out tonight 😀
thanks for the great recipes and giving me ideas on how to substitute oils in cooking.
jessicaMarch 23, 2012 at 10:47 am
I’m excited to make this!! Just recently had to go gluten free. But Where is the recipe for the pumpkin cheesecake with a hint of chocolate?
Susan VoisinMarch 23, 2012 at 10:55 am
I don’t have it on my site, but it’s posted here: http://www.littlehouseofveggies.com/2011/11/vegan-holiday-kitchen-pumpkin.html
Susan VoisinMarch 23, 2012 at 11:02 am
Oops, there’s an error in that version of the cheesecake recipe. It’s supposed to be 1/2 cup of chocolate chips in the second step. This site has it right: http://www.relish.com/recipes/vegan-pumpkin-cheesecake-with-a-hint-of-chocolate/ If you want it to have the zig-zag of chocolate as in my photo, you just melt some extra chocolate chips and pipe them onto the pie after it’s cool.
ericaApril 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm
This looks great and I am planning to make it for Easter. One thing — the recipe says to use a 2 quart casserole dish, but that seems awfully small to me. Is that really the right size, or is that for the 1/2 recipe you mentioned? It seems like, if there are 8-10 potatoes in the top part, a larger casserole dish will be needed (I was thinking a 5-quart).
Susan VoisinApril 6, 2012 at 6:09 pm
2 quarts is what Nava calls for in the recipe. The dish I used was 2 quarts, but I’m pretty sure I cut the recipe in half, so I do suggest using a larger dish if you have one.
TaraApril 16, 2012 at 10:30 am
Dumb question but… I’ve seen milk substitutes on this site before, that aren’t rice milk.. Is that necessary for this one? Or will it work as well if I use something else?
Susan VoisinApril 16, 2012 at 10:39 am
I’m sure it would. Since this recipe comes from someone Nava Atlas, it uses her preferred milk, but I can’t think of any reason another milk wouldn’t work.
IrinaJune 11, 2012 at 11:00 am
Thanks for the recipe!
LouiseJune 27, 2012 at 12:04 am
i made this pie about an hour ago, im going to memorise it, it was incredible! <3
ShannonAugust 7, 2012 at 5:30 pm
I am making this right now and then it says to bake, however, nowhere on your recipe does it give an oven temp!!! Help, I am about to put it in the oven. I just looked at your pic in your cookbook and it’s not there either. I will assume it is 350 at this point unless I hear from you asap! Wonderful recipe and I will be looking into your cookbook! Found you on Pinterest!
Susan VoisinAugust 7, 2012 at 6:29 pm
Shannon, it’s 400F. It’s mentioned at the end of step 2.
SilAugust 8, 2012 at 8:20 am
Fantastic! My picky husband loved it and I loved it! Thanks for the recipe!
PamSeptember 22, 2012 at 8:28 am
I found this recipe Thursday and made it Friday for dinner. It was AWESOME. I came across French Lentils in the grocery store and tried those. They had a great earthy flavor and remained firm, not getting mushing like red or green lentils tend to. The only thing I did different than the recipe was I added mixed dried mushrooms to the lentils while they cooked and it worked out great. I still used the baby bellas, but this just added more mushroomy flavor. Thanks for a great recipe. This ones a keeper.
GinaOctober 6, 2012 at 6:16 pm
Just popped it in the oven. House smells yummy!!
CatNovember 22, 2012 at 12:35 am
I love this recipe! Just a few notes:
-This makes waaay more than 2 quarts, try about twice that much. If you use two 2-quart casserole dishes, this is a great way to feed an army of hungry dinner guests
-Try making the potato part first, then doing the filling, then put them together. Doing both parts at the same time is nearly impossible!
-If you want to make this and you’re out of cornstarch, don’t go buy more–it’s great without it. It was just too much of a hassle to actually get into my skillet at the time so my partner and I omitted it, and it turned out great!
-We put black pepper on the top of the mashed potatoes, before baking, and it was a really nice touch.
Love the recipe! Thank you for saving my Thanksgiving, lol!
AminakoDecember 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm
This recipe was added to my ‘to do list’ at least half a year ago. And yesterday I finally managed to cook a shephard’s pie. I used this recipe as far as I could (I am from Europe and I have no idea how much an ounce is, therefore I just assumed I used a proper dose of a given product) and it turned out really awesome. I didn’t really loved the potato layer, but I think mine was just too thick. But the lower layer of the lentils and the mushrooms (I used the ones available in the store, no idea were they) and the spinach with the soy sauce… There are no words to describe how great the taste was. Next time I’m doing the lower layer and instead of the potato layer I plan to make a broccoli-white sauce layer. Can’t wait to try it out!
ErinMarch 4, 2013 at 10:59 pm
This recipe was amazing. I added celery cooked my own lentils. It reminded my daughter of tofurkey.
AbsMay 30, 2013 at 12:42 am
Just wanted to thank you for sharing this recipe. I’m neither a vegan nor vegatarian but my husband and I love having meat free meals at least once a week (and this is great for our little one as well). Very delicious, thanks again!
RobinJune 26, 2013 at 4:44 pm
This looks really good but I didn’t think you could have margarine or oil on ETL. Am I wrong?
Susan VoisinJune 26, 2013 at 4:49 pm
You are absolutely right. That’s why the oil and margarine are listed as optional and a way of substituting them is given.
CherylOctober 19, 2013 at 12:34 pm
We made this last year and it was phenomenal! We’re making it again soon and I hope to blog it 🙂
KaterinaNovember 14, 2013 at 10:50 am
Hello, this looks just amazing! But I am from France and so no idea what is
” 2 teaspoons seasoning blend (such as Spike or Mrs. Dash)”
little bit more dicription of what herbes are in it?
CarolynNovember 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm
Crikey this is so delicious. Looking forward to eating a proper lunch tomorrow! Thanks for the post. I’ll probably make this again in January as comfort food when it’s freezing outside!
DeannaNovember 20, 2013 at 7:44 am
Can’t wait to try this! Is it best to chop or slice the mushrooms?
Susan VoisinNovember 20, 2013 at 8:34 am
It doesn’t really matter, though if they’re large, I’d probably halve them and then slice them.
MelissaNovember 29, 2013 at 4:54 am
I made this dish for my Vegan Thanksgiving and everyone loved it. One of my guests even asked for the recipe so I sent him the link. 🙂
KatieNovember 29, 2013 at 7:57 am
Made this as the main dish for Thanksgiving. It was ok, but nothing amazing. Sort of bland and mushy. No one was interested in seconds or leftovers. Next time, I’ll go with a base more like a veggie stew/pot pie (maybe your celebration pot pie with pumpkin biscuits?) and try a different mashed potato recipe – something with more flavor.
DanaeAJanuary 1, 2014 at 3:38 pm
holy moly, this was delicious! i made it for New Year’s Day, and I think it’s going to be our new family tradition for New Year’s Day from now on. Thanks for posting!
ZekiliMarch 14, 2014 at 8:05 pm
What temperature should the oven be on for the baking part?
Connie FletcherApril 23, 2014 at 1:14 pm
400… it tells you in the recipe! 🙂
Connie FletcherApril 23, 2014 at 1:13 pm
This is hands down my favorite recipe for “Shepard’s Pie”. She’s right…there are no words….just lots of Mmmmmm’s going around the table.
Souri HarrisAugust 10, 2014 at 12:18 am
Hello Nava, Thank you for posting this dish , I love to try it since I love lentils and mushrooms. I will post a comment and let you know how it came out and everything about. Thanks again for your wonderful useful recipes .
Sue BakerNovember 15, 2014 at 3:05 pm
I am surprised that she mentions Bragg’s Aminos along with recommending low sodium soy sauce. Bragg’s is not low in sodium when you consider the service size on the label.
CelesteNovember 17, 2014 at 8:08 pm
Made this tonight and it was divine!! I absolutely love mushrooms but sadly my boyfriend despises them. I normally never push mushrooms on him but this looked so good I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try-I knew I’d like it…. HE LOVED IT!!!!! I never in a million years would have guessed he would clean a plate that had mushrooms near it! Great job and will be spreading another one of your fantastic creations.
JillMarch 26, 2015 at 9:39 pm
Hi Susan, great recipe. I did, however, add a couple of things. I left out the breadcrumbs but added sliced fresh tomatoes between the lentil mixture and the potatoes. I also dusted the top with smoked paprika, something I have been doing to cottage pies, both lentil (mine) and meat (husband and sons). The sliced tomato is how my mother made shepherd’s pie when we were kids. It adds a gentle sweetness.
KimberlyMay 8, 2015 at 1:27 pm
OMG! This recipe is one of my favorites. I’ve made it many times! This time I’ve added a little turmeric, and used veggie stock instead of milk to mash the potatoes with. LOVE IT!
P.S. Instead of using canned lentils, I cook one cup of French Green (Dupuy) lentils in 2 1/2 cups of water and add the lentils with the cooking liquid to my pan of mushrooms, onions, and garlic. These lentils are less mushy and add a peppery flavor to the dish!
KaylaOctober 21, 2018 at 5:28 pm
Thanks! I’m going to try this now and always have dry lentils on hand. I’m also going to try freezing it before I put it the oven to be made next week. I’m trying to meal plan for a busy month ahead!
Paul SconfienzaMarch 18, 2017 at 5:37 pm
The Vegan Holiday kitchen book is one of my favorites. Everything I’ve made from it has been delicious. I’m making the Forbidden Rice dish for a potluck tonight. Its now my go-to potluck dish. I’m going to try the shepherd’s pie. I’m sure it will be fantastic as all of Nava’s recipes are.
jacob the veganMay 20, 2017 at 10:44 pm
Thanks so much for sharing such a wonderful and hearty recipe. The vegan shepherd’s pie was SO delicious!
Juliet TyeOctober 8, 2017 at 6:11 pm
Can I substitute rice milk for soy milk? Otherwise, any liquid substitutions you’d recommend?
Susan VoisinOctober 8, 2017 at 10:13 pm
Yes, rice milk or any unsweetened “milk” will be fine.
AngNovember 12, 2017 at 10:22 pm
This recipe was absolutely delicious. I made it without oil using water, cooked the potatoes in the pressure cooker, broiled to crisp potatoes, added yams, black beans, and pinto beans and doubled the garlic. Served with cranberry sauce. What a winning recipe. Thank you!
TraciNovember 22, 2017 at 6:01 pm
Can this be made ahead….the night before or in the morning time cook in the afternoon?
Susan VoisinNovember 22, 2017 at 7:22 pm
Yes, I think that would be fine.
Barbara BellJanuary 5, 2018 at 7:59 pm
This recipe is amazing…I added 2 T tomatoe paste…and 1 can of cream corn between lentils and potatoes,
IndiaJanuary 7, 2018 at 3:44 pm
Is this recipe suitable for freezing?
Susan VoisinJanuary 7, 2018 at 4:09 pm
Yes, it should freeze fine.
JasJanuary 8, 2018 at 2:56 am
What kind of lentils did you use? Green, red or black?
Susan VoisinJanuary 8, 2018 at 8:35 am
Green or brown.
DaraNovember 4, 2018 at 1:55 pm
This was sooooo good. Just made it today. I added some corn for sweetness. Great recipe!!! Thank you!
ChristenNovember 10, 2018 at 5:45 pm
I made this tonight as to test it to bring thanksgiving and it was amazing! The flavor was so good i just have one question. After taking it out of the dish, it didn’t hold its form and became just a pile of mush. Still delicious but I’m wondering if I did something wrong. Is it supposed to hold together like in the picture after it’s cut out of the cooking dish? Thanks!
Susan VoisinNovember 10, 2018 at 5:52 pm
No, I probably shaped up the edges to make it more photogenic. Yours probably came out like it’s supposed to. You’d have to add a lot of thickener to the filling to make it hold together, and that probably wouldn’t taste so good.