Vegetarian lentil shepherds pie

Our two lads will happily eat standard veggie fare such as corn, carrots, peas, broccoli and potatoes. If you asked them, they would vehemently deny eating (much less admit to enjoying) eggplant, zuchinni, mushrooms, fennel, onion and capsicum. However, they regularly eat these vegetables in curries, vegetarian Mexican bean dishes, veggie lentil pasta dishes, meat casseroles, burgers, bolognese and more.

Whilst eating, they sometimes ask ‘Mum, what’s in this ?’ When I tell them ‘eggplant’, they are not deterred from continuing the inhalation process. I am sure this has something to do with the leafy matter being ‘hidden in plain sight’ and not easily identifiable. On the flip side, they run screaming from the room when confronted with beetroot, brussel sprouts, parnsips or sweet potato.

This hearty winter dish is all about the fifth flavour of umami (or in other words ‘deep savouriness’), provided by the mushrooms, miso and soy sauce. These flavours and textures, combined with some slow cooking, are completely satisyfing. I cannot promise that it will convert the most adamant of carnivores but our lads love it and in fact, have said they prefer it to my meat version of the same dish. (A declaration at which many sheep breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing.)

Make, eat and enjoy; knowing that neither sheep nor shepherd was harmed in the making of this pie.


4 tbl olive oil
1 medium onion finely diced
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
3 medium carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1 medium sized red pepper, diced
1 large eggplant, diced
1 large zuchinni, diced
2 cloves garlic
3 large flat mushrooms, diced
2 tins brown lentils, drained
1 tin crushed tomatoes
250 ml vegetable stock
1 tbl oregano
1tbl gluten free soy sauce
1 tbl miso paste
Salt and pepper to taste

Mashed potato topping
1.5 kilos potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup milk
50-100g Butter to taste (add as much as or as little as you like)
Salt and pepper
50-80g Parmesan for grating on top


Lightly oil a large baking dish.
Sauté onion, chilli, carrot, celery and red pepper for five minutes. Add the eggplant and zuchinni and sauté for another five minutes, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.
Add the mushrooms and cook for another five minutes. Add the lentils, tin of tomatoes, veggie stock, oregano, soy sauce, miso and another cup or so of cold water so the whole mixture is covered in liquid.
Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cook for up to one hour until all the liquid is evaporated and the veggies are tender. (This can take more like 1 hour 15 minutes.) Check for seasoning.
Whilst the vegetable mixture is simmering make the mashed potato topping. Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender then drain them. Quickly pop them back into the saucepan and cook on a low heat for a minute or two. This will evaporate any remaining liquid and help to make a more fluffy mash. Remove them from the heat.
Warm the milk then add this and the butter to the potato mixture and mash until light and fluffy. Season with salt and pepper.
If cooking the shepherds pie straight away, preheat the oven to 180C.
To assemble the pie: Place the vegetable mixture into the prepared baking dish and smooth flat. Dollop even spoons of the potato mash over the top of the veggies. Flatten the mash with a spatula then drag a fork through the top. (This uneven texture helps the potato to brown.)
Sprinkle the Parmesan over the potato and bake in the oven for 40 minutes until golden brown. (If the top hasn’t browned enough, I often turn the grill on to medium for five minutes or so to help the browning process.)
If you are heating up the shepherds pie from the fridge, bring it out for half an hour before baking and it will take around an hour to heat up to piping hot.

Cooking Notes: Don’t feel compelled to follow my recipe for mashed potato if you have your own awesome recipe and technique. You can also make this recipe vegan by using a vegan margarine to mash the potatoes with and not using any milk. Top with a vegan cheese instead.
Another great thing about this dish is that due to its size, there are always leftovers for the next night. You little beauty.

A Cheergerm recipe

23 thoughts on “Vegetarian lentil shepherds pie

  1. It sounds delish, but with one critical question: How high does it rate on the, um, bottyburp scale? Only certain members of this household don’t need any extra help in that respect so I tend not to feed him (oops) legumes much… I may well have to put some sheep in peril…

  2. I would never miss meat with this dish. Love the ingredients. I used to use lentils so much when my husband was a vegetarian. Even lentil spaghetti sauce, and the kids ate it too!

  3. Hi Lisa
    I found you via Susanne’s blog and am I glad I did! i live on Sydney’s north shore, am vegetarian, actually the whole family is. I am enjoying reading your recipes and am going to cook some of them as well and may I recommend your blog to those who ask me for vegetarian recipes and I can only give them Indian ones!!
    Thanks, Shubha

    • Hi Shubha! Lovely to meet you virtually! We live on the Sydney north shore as well. Thanks for commenting, I hope you get to try out a few recipes. I adore Indian food as well. Do you have a blog? Cheers, Lisa

      • Hi Lisa
        I’m in Killara and I have now recommended your blog to a friend’s daughter who is vegan.
        I don’t have a blog but I want to share these 2 recipes here which your boys ( mine do) will adore

        Kumera or Sweet Potato Kees ( kees is grated)
        Peel and grate kumera or sweet potato ( not too fine), steam in microwave ( but not till it’s mushy), in a pan ( I use Scanpan) heat some EV Olivie oil, add cumin seeds, when the splutter and pop, add seeded green chillies, and the steamed grated SP, stir, add salt to taste and then add ground peanuts ( for convenience I grind some Nobbys nuts) – any nuts may be used, roasted cashews or almonds etc. Very yummy with a dollop of yoghurt!! If I may say so myself!!

        Brussel sprouts – stuffed and delicious and very nutritious
        Roast sesame seeds and dessicated coconut and when cool, grind into a coarse powder, to this add ground coriander, salt, chilli powder, a pinch of turmeric and some ground pepper
        Make 4 slits in each sprout and then steam in microwave until nice and tender. When cooled, stuff the above masala in each sprout. When you have as many as you like, heat EV Olive oil and add cumin seeds, when the splutter and pop, add a pinch of asafoetida ( available in Indian grocery stores) and a tiny amount of turmeric, now add the stuffed sprouts and stir gently so they remain intact. In about five minutes turn the heat off and they are ready to be eaten. My boys just eat them on their own ( no need for bread or rice!!)
        You are a great cook so you’ll figure out the quantities of all ingredients!! This is home cooking and restaurants don’t serve this sort of comfort food.

      • Hi Shubha, we are virtually neighbours! Thanks so much for the recommendation. And a huge thanks for these recipes, they sound wonderful. I have some Brussel sprouts in the fridge so will be trying that one first. My mouth is already watering, thanks again. 🤗

  4. Ooh, yummy! I may just give a vegan adaptation of your lovely veggie pie a whirl! A client in the food business frequently refers to ‘umami’ taste but I have to be careful as it’s often associated with MSG – the evil chemical that sets my brain on fire.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s