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This will be a shorter post than normal. I am hampered by two things: A deep gash to my finger – all bandaged up and throbbing, held above my heart like you’re told to do; and a very large cat (Max) insisting on sprawling on my lap. And, because he is long and tubby, onto the keyboard. Usually computer lap-sitting from Max means ‘feed me,’ and it happens whenever I sit down to write my post, or do some work. He and I both know that this is a completely transparent take on cupboard love. And it always works. All Max has to do is lie there with his big hairy paws, pressing an infinity of w’s and *’s, and I will relent. But, as he has just this minute scoffed one of those evil-smelling packets from a company starting with ‘W’, I like to think he’s doing this to comfort me.  You normally hear about this in relation to dogs cuddling up to you when you are coughing and feverish, so perhaps our doglike cat (he will walk with us two blocks to the postbox) has a sensitive streak. Cat-haters, take note.

So, this pie. I know with my awkward and impressively swathed finger  that  I could legitimately order a takeaway (the one near us does great things with tofu. Really). But I also know that I have a number of pies, bakes and sauces taking over my freezer, just waiting to be used. And the one that Miss R likes best is this, the Shepherdess Pie.

If you aren’t from the UK you may be wondering, “what is a Shepherdess Pie?” Well, you have probably heard about Shepherd’s Pie, being as it is one of those recipes, like spotted dick and bangers and mash, that sounds so very bowler hat-British. Shepherdess Pie is really just a vegetarian version of this famed potato-topped vegetable and lamb mince pie. Or, in this case, vegan – no cheese or butter.

When you look at the ingredients you might wonder how such an unprepossessing collection of food stuffs (lentils! celeriac!) can make a delicious, come-back-for-seconds dish. But it does. The golden-tipped rough of mashed potatoes will always attract the children’s attention (and Mr A), but the savoury, tomatoey inside will ensure they gobble their portion up in a trice.  It is certainly a dish that is more than the sum of its parts.

Well, I think I can just about manage to  hoist the frozen dish into the oven, but instead of slicing up some peppers – as shown in the pic – I will play it safe with frozen peas, wilted greens and ketchup. Freezer food to the rescue!

I am sending this recipe over to Ren at Fabulicious Food for her monthly Simple and In Season link up. Go and visit soon to see what other seasonal recipes might take your fancy.

What do you keep stashed in the freezer for after-work ease, unexpected guests and, ahem, medical emergencies? shepherdess pieshepherdess pieshepherdess pie

Shepherdess Pie

Last Year: Prawn, Tomato and Spaghetti Squash ‘Pasta’ (gluten free)
Miss R’s Track of the Week: Mercury Award-winning  alt-J’s Dissolve Me (has a reference to shepherds and lambs!)
This may look a bit ‘worthy’ but it is actually very tasty indeed. If you want to do this for sceptical children (or adults), use half the lentils and add 100 g browned organic lamb (or beef) mince. You could also leave out the parsley from the mash. Another idea (and a quick one, too) is to substitute the lentils for 2 tins of baked beans, or use a couple of tins of cooked brown lentils.  
175 g (6 oz) small brown or green lentils (preferably Puy), rinsed
3 large ‘floury’ potatoes (e.g. Maris Piper, King Edward), cubed
1/2 head celeriac, peeled and cubed OR 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or butter
5 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped OR two large leeks, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 heaped tsp herbes de Provence or dried mixed herbs
2-4 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed and finely chopped
4 carrots, peeled (if organic, just scrub) and sliced
200 g (6 oz) chestnut or shiitake mushrooms, wiped and sliced
1 x 400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes (do not drain) or whole equivalent
1 heaped tbsp sundried tomato puree or ordinary tomato puree
1 Tbsp either mushroom ketchup or soy sauce
1 tbsp olive oil, or oil spray
Preheat oven to 200C/ 400F. Put the lentils in a large saucepan, cover with 3 times their volume of water and simmer gently until tender but not mushy (check after 35 minutes, but may need 45 minutes). Meanwhile, boil the potatoes and celeriac in salted water until tender. Drain the potato/celeriac mixture well and mash with your chosen fat, adding some of the potato water to lighten the mash. Season to taste. Stir in the half of the chopped parsley and set aside.
Heat the oil over a low heat in a large frying pan and add the onion or leeks; saute  gently for about five minutes and then add the bay leaf, herbs, garlic, carrots and mushrooms. Continue sautéing until mushrooms release their moisture – probably another five minutes. Drain the lentils when tender and add to the pan along with the tinned tomatoes and their juice, and soy sauce or mushroom ketchup. You may wish to add some of the lentil liquor (up to 100 ml) to ‘loosen’ the mixture. Season to taste. I sometimes do this with vegetable stock powder.
Spoon the mixture into an ovenproof dish. Top evenly with the mashed potato/celeriac. A top tip to make easier spreading is to let the lentil mixture cool a bit, then drop spoons of mash around the edge of the mixture, smoothing to make a frame of sorts, and work your way in with more dollops of mash. Smooth it just enough to fill the gaps then rough it with a fork. Bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbling at the sides and the top is lightly browned. If you are feeling decadent you could brush the top lightly with melted butter or olive oil just before baking. This is delicious with roasted peppers and steamed green vegetables, or a simple green salad and multigrain rolls. Shepherdess pie and can be reliably reheated the next day, and is even quite nice cold with a big squirt of ketchup. Add an extra 10 minutes if heating from the freezer (foil on for first half hour). Serves 4-6

66 thoughts on “Shepherdess Pie – A Family Favourite Gone Vegan

  1. I love Max! And these photos are great. Oh, and the shepherdess pie sounds pretty darn good, too. 🙂

    1. As I am tapping away just now, guess who is conspiring to join me on the keyboard…

  2. just one word..

  3. Amazing! I love shepherd (ess) pie but hate ground/minced meat! This is going on the menu soon for sure. Thank you!

  4. jackie armstrong says:

    mmmm just the thing my son`s fiance is vegi and i never know what to cook her, i really struggle, and not knowing what she can and cannot eat so will give this a go. Hope your finger gets better soon, i am of to a fundraising event now, someone has invited me to plenty of drink there lol

    1. It’s really easy and perfect for meat eaters and vegans alike. Or, if others want meat you could do a mini one using all the same ingredients but just substituting the proteins – same flavourings. Or use your own recipe but whack a tin of lentils in it. Sorry I missed your bagpipes this morning. Up to my neck in soup!

      1. jackie armstrong says:

        Hi Kellie the soup was lovely what kind was it, and you didnt miss much me playing the pipes to many mistakes it was awful,but was a good day today

      2. Hi Jackie 😀 It was sweet potato & apple with cinnamon and ginger. The recipe is in the index as roasted butternut squash and apple soup, but this quicker version is just as tasty – no roasting. And sweet potatoes are easier to deal with, esp for 300 portions! I’m sure you were great on the bagpipes: you are just a perfectionist, that’s all.

      3. jackie armstrong says:

        It must have been very busy in your kitchen cooking 300 portions of soup, but well worth it as lovely, I sit here at 2.10 in the morning writing down recipies of yours into my cookbook not being able to sleep, must have been all the exitment from the 16th party, and thinking i going to try these recipies on my vegi daughter in law especially the soup

      4. I hope you got to sleep Jackie. I don’t know if even I have stayed up writing out recipes, but I hope it sent you to sleep, like counting sheep 😀 Have you had a trawl through the Index here for more ideas for your daughter-in-law? I’m sure she would appreciate anything at all that you made for her (mine, yours, others): we all love a home-cooked meal, and knowing that care and love are two of the ingredients. Does that sound too cheesey?

      5. jackie armstrong says:

        Not at all does not sound cheezy as that is what she needs at the moment, as she has been through alot. The trouble with her is she has got a few allergies as well such as citrus, ginger i just find it so hard

      6. She will appreciate your efforts to feed her something she can eat without feeling like she’s different. Almost all my recipes can & should be adapted to likes, dislikes, intolerances. I’m not precious about cooking, or my recipes. Please feel confident about her requirements – you’re a good cook I’m sure. I know your baking is awesome!!

      7. jackie armstrong says:

        Do you know much about eating habits like annerexia,

      8. Leave me your phone number in the Contact form (only I see this) and we’ll have a chat. That okay, Jackie?

      9. jackie armstrong says:

        Yes that would be good,I have left my no hope you get it ok

      10. I’ll phone you some time next week. No promises when as the week is beyond busy, but I want to make sure I can have an uninterrupted chat with you.

      11. jackie armstrong says:

        Yes that is fine thank you Kellie, I know you are buzy so there is no rush, thanks

  5. laura_howtocook says:

    I am equally happy with Shepherdess pie as I am with Shepherd’s pie as long as the meat is good as you suggest. I used to make lots of this when I worked for the health food chain “Fresh & Wild”. It was one of their top sellers and I have loved it since then along with many other lovely veg & vegan dishes although I am a meat eater. But I like to limit my intake!
    Hope your finger heals well and am wondering how you will do all the chopping for your soup with a sore finger. Hope you have helpers!

    1. DO you have your Fresh and Wild recipe on your blog? I would love to have a cheffy one if you have it. I wish I had some restaurant experience. I’m sure my recipes would be better!

      1. laura_howtocook says:

        No I didn’t keep any of them sadly but I cam tell you that was one of my least favourite cooking jobs ever!

      2. That’s a shame that it was a bit of a rubbish job for you, but I’m sure the people you cooked for, the customers, appreciated what you made. Too bad about not saving the recipes because I would really have been interested to see some of them. Ach well. Anyway, hope you have a fab weekend, Miss Laura.

      3. laura_howtocook says:

        Thanks Kellie, you too! xx

  6. My husband loves Shepard’s pie – I will have to make this one for us this winter! Hope your finger heals up quickly!

  7. krimkus says:

    The thing about Shepard’s pie is that you can make all kinds of versions. One time I made a chicken version and a vegetarian version (vegetable broth, etc.) in the same night. Everyone was happy. Your recipe looks terrific. I hope you’re healing well. My big old yellow tabby takes care of me too. 🙂

    1. Yes! For quite a number of recipes I can think of – the traditional type ones – the basic flavours translate to vegetarian or meat very well. Making two types sounds tricky to many people but you know how easy it can be. Nice to hear from you. Max says ‘hello’ to your tabby. So sorry for the delay in approving the comment – you got caught in my infamously picky spam filter and I’ve just now gone through all 99! I don’t know why you ended up there. Sorry Kristi

  8. I love veggie shepard’s pie! I make a version with lentils, kale, spaghetti squash, and sweet potatoes. Mmmm. Must make soon!

    1. That really sounds lovely. I whack kale in most things these days, but I gave it a rest here and blogged an old recipe I developed before `I ‘discovered’ kale. It’s probably 15 years old. Having kale tonight in a curry.

  9. this sounds a wonderful mix of flavours and I remember the Fresh and Wild version that Laura is talking about!

    1. Thanks for the good wishes about my finger. It’s fine today. It finally stopped bleeding after about 12 hours :/

  10. and hope your finger is ok! x

  11. Yum yum! I love shepherd’s pies, but I always have lots of meat in mine 🙂 Mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes would work too, two of my favorite ingredients.
    I keep soups and cooked meats in the freezer to quickly thaw and heat after long days at work. I also love keeping canned beans for burritos.

    1. I love sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms and sometimes they get thrown in too – so much umami going on. I like the idea of canned beans – for burritos, quick dips and fillings as well as to protein-up a veg soup or dish. Sorry for the delay. You were somehow in my spam filter, which I’m not very diligent in sifting through ;D

  12. shuhan says:

    A food blogger friend I know has gone vegan for the month, and is a wreck right now haha. This looks proper meaty and hearty and will probably cheer her up, so I’m sharing this with her now! Good one kellie!

    1. Thanks Shuhan – it is meaty-ish for sure. I serve it at my cancer nutrition workshops and the men especially appreciate it. Mushrooms and lentils do a kind of meaty thing when together in recipes. In my opinion.

  13. Looks perfect….and you know about my utter devotion to mash, yum.

    Hope your finger is on the mend?……if you do insist on using those beautiful Japanese knives……

    1. I think I just missed out on a trip to hospital (which would have really messed with my day!) but it is fine today. Delivered 300 servings of soup – sans blood! – to Maggie’s this morning for their 16th birthday party. I almost wore out my hand blender – the motor was scorching!

      1. Oh crikey! You should have told me, I could have done some chopping for you!

        Happy Birthday to the Wonderful Maggies Centre.

  14. Yum. If only I could get my family to eat mashed potatoes…

    1. Sorry about the delay. For some reason my overzealous spam filter picked on you and I’ve just found you among the 99 spams!

  15. Ouch, your poor finger. Sounds so painful. I hope it heals well and quickly. I love Shepherdess Pie and it is great to have such a nice recipe, I will definitely try it. I have everything, except for the potatoes! But I do have cauliflower and celeriac so I could just make a mash with those and skip the potatoes. Mmmmmmnnn! Thank you also for entering it, in your injured state, into Simple and in Season. PS Max sounds adorable xxx

    1. I must stop moaning and complaining in public! I’m fine. It did make cooking tricky but I tend to do this about once a year. I suppose you aren’t this clumsy? I like your v low carb idea for the topping – cauliflower (& kale) is an everyday food for me, & I’m not crazy about potatoes (!).

  16. This looks and sounds amazing! Sorry about your finger – Mr A wasn’t tempted to get the needle and thread out to fix it then?? I had some of your soup today and absolutely loved it! I did remark to Mr A that it tasted very healthy and his response was ‘well it is very healthy’….it’s ok though, I had a slice of cake so my body didn’t go into total shock at the sudden vegetable infusion 😉

    Any chance of Max making a photographic appearance at some point?

    1. What are you like 😉 I trust the sugary cake hit balanced out the vegan soup nicely. Sorry I missed you. When I left it was so busy you couldn’t put a piece of paper between people! I will try and get Max to pose, but no promises. He’s his own man. Apparently.

      1. Lol! You know me too well by now 😉 Poor Max, tell him the photo is at my request – I’m certain he’ll oblige! hahaaha

  17. eastofedencook says:

    Love the idea of having a tasty vegetarian dinner stashed away in the freezer! Glad to hear your on the mend!

  18. Dom says:

    man that is one STUNNING pie… I love what you’ve done with the fabulous crispy potato topping… gorgeous… and lovely blog, so glad I found you!

    1. Thanks so much Dom. I know you are pals with Karen over at Lavender and Lovage, so I am chuffed you came over for a visit. Well, I’d be chuffed anyway! Must try and enter your Random Recipes one time as I love to see what others do with the challenge.

  19. thought I left a comment but it’s not here… this looks stunning and I love your blog, so glad to have found it!

  20. Well I made this last night for my family – (male teens & hubby) and they loved it. It’s comforting, robust and flavoursome. I used the soy sauce option which gave it a nice deep flavour. I have a pot on porcini salt in my store cupboard so I sprinkled some on the onions to stop them catching when they were frying – delicious. Thanks Kellie!

    1. That’s a great idea with the porcini salt! I’ll try that next time. I’m really glad the shepherdess pie was eaten and enjoyed by the whole family. Did you have to make a double one to account for the boys’ massive teenage appetites? I wonder. Thanks for the great feedback 😀

      1. how did you guess, yes I did! I also sneaked in some turmeric to the mash as I thought your pie looked nice and golden…

  21. Jacqueline says:

    That looks wonderful Kellie. I have been making a version of this for years and didn’t have a clue the veggie version was called Shepherdess Pie.

    1. I can’t believe I’ve taught *you* something! Unbelievable 🙂 It is something there must be massive variations on, & I bet yours is well gorgeous.

  22. I hope your finger is getting better and poor you Kellie! As for shepherdess pie, that would me just as welcome on my table as shepherd’s pie would be………a lovely seasonal meal. Karen

  23. Shepherd’s pie is high up on my list of comfort foods – nice and warming on a cold day, simple and filling – though not something we have a lot of, as we try and eat further down the food chain (and save our meaty indulgences for more decadent dishes). This variation looks and sounds great and guiltless. Will definitely give it a try.

    I hope your finger is healing nicely, and am glad Max is there to provide comfort. Missing my two little beasts this week, though I guess that’s par for the course this year.

    1. Ah, I almost hate being on holiday because I miss my ‘little beasts’ so much. How sad is that? It must be awful for you as you are away loads, and for such extended periods of time. Glad you like the look of my variation on the meaty shepherd’s pie. I’ve received good feedback from those who made tried it (and quite a few photos!). Let me know if you do. I love feedback

  24. Shannon says:

    So I didn’t miss this after all. Came over from 222 Million Tons, but didn’t remember at all seeing your post, but there I am. I’ve drug this one to my recipe folder so I’ll not forget it. Thanks for the reminder, Jean-François! And Kellie, for your awesome vegan recipes.

    1. Good old (young) J-F. I’m glad he steered you back here for the recipe. I hope you get to make it soon. It is a proper winter comfort food without all the guilt associated with comfort food. Unless you like it so much you polish it off yourself!

  25. wayne says:

    A wonderful meal. Have made this dish on more than a few occasions. Thank you.
    This from a meat eater who loves lentils.

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