Yes, I know. Meatless shepherd’s pie isn’t shepherds pie BUT if I tell my mum or grandma I am making ‘shepherdess pie’ I can just picture the odd look they’ll give me. And, really, this is the pie my mum used to regularly serve for a weeknight tea. It’s got the baked beans and everything! Baked beans in shepherd’s pie seems to be relatively common among mums in England, and yet every recipe I found online neglected to add them. Perhaps I’m making some massive faux pas but… there’s beans in this!
No meat shepherd’s pie?
Nope, not an ounce of minced meat in sight. Instead, I use lentils (green and red) and some familiar vegetables . No fancy herbs, no non-potato topping.. just a good, old fashioned British shepherds pie. Sans meat.
It could just as easily be a badly named Cottage Pie, of course. Since the only difference is the type of mince used, and actually my mum made us Cottage Pie my entire life! But just called it Shepherds Pie. So if you like, I was taught from a young age to be quite eh, liberal with using traditional British meal names.
Simple comfort food for rainy days
When I eat my vegan shepherds pie, I’m taken straight back to sitting at the kitchen table as a child. I would sit in the chair that had it’s back to the window and faced the rest of the kitchen. The table was round, with green tiles and wood around the edges.
And it was usually cold outside, and raining – we ate it often in the colder months, and only rarely in the warmer months. As such the shepherd’s pie was always served with gravy: never salad. As a nod to health, peas would often make an appearance as the vegetable side dish.
I follow that tradition now and serve up my own when it’s cold outside, and I love to serve it with peas! I like to add brussel sprouts and parsnips, or swede, or cauliflower too if we have it in. My ideal dinner plate is at least half full of vegetables!
The kitchen where I ate my childhood dinners was very green-dominant. A rich, deep, forest green; we had an integrated fridge that sat under the counter and it was constantly stuffed full! The cooker was on the opposite side of the kitchen, also integrated, and it was a double. I’ve recently realised that not all cookers are double ones!
My current kitchen, in our rented house, has a small standalone cooker with gaps at the sides that I keep dropping things down. Annoying. For the first time since I started cooking, I have one oven/grill, rather than a double oven. Our fridge is also constantly overflowing too! We eat a lot of fresh food every week – in greens alone we’ll eat one mixed bag of salad, one bag of kale, and one bag of spinach!
I spend a lot of time day dreaming about bigger ovens, and bigger fridges.
We were considering buying a house this year, but ended up deferring that to next year. However that didn’t stop me fantasising about cookers in my dream house. An Aga range cooker? An integrated range cooker? My dream cooker is definitely bigger, so I can cook more food at once! No more squeezing things in! My dream fridge-freezer has always been one of those enormous American style ones that you can practically fit a person in too. One day, one day I will have one!
Looking for more comforting dinner recipes?
If you want more comfort food with a healthy edge, try one of these vegan dinner recipes on for size:
Homemade Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
- 800 g potatoes peeled and quartered
- 1 onion diced
- 2 medium carrots ~180g, peeled and diced
- 180 g dry green lentils ~1 cup
- 100 g dry red lentils ~½ cup
- 500 ml vegetable stock ~2 cups
- 250 ml water ~1 cup
- 1 tbsp mixed herbs I use oregano, basil, rosemary and thyme
- 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 1 tsp Marmite
- 1 400g tin baked beans in tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp butter
- ¼ tsp dijon mustard
- Heat a little oil or water in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté until soft (about 7 minutes if using water).1 onion, 2 medium carrots
- Add the lentils, stock, water, herbs, Worcestershire sauce, tomato purée, ketchup and Marmite. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. After about 20 minutes, add the baked beans. Cook for another 10 minutes, until nearly all the liquid has been absorbed. I recommend stirring often, to prevent the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pan.180 g dry green lentils, 500 ml vegetable stock, 250 ml water, 1 tbsp mixed herbs, 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp tomato purée, 2 tbsp tomato ketchup, 1 tsp Marmite, 1 400g tin baked beans in tomato sauce, 100 g dry red lentils
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 190°C and prepare the potatoes:
- Place the peeled and quartered potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water and place over a high heat until they come to a boil. Cook until soft (a knife should pierce the centre easily), then drain and return the pan (off the heat).800 g potatoes
- Add the butter and mustard to the potatoes, mash until smooth and season to taste.1 tbsp butter, ¼ tsp dijon mustard
- Pour the lentil mixture into a roasting dish (I use a glass one) and then spread the potato on top, a spoonful at a time and working from the edges in.
- Place in the centre of the oven and cook for 20 minutes, until the top is golden.