• March 3, 2016

    Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Lentils

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    This vegetarian shepherd’s pie offers all the heartiness, coziness and comfort of its lamb or beef counterpart. So much so that my meat-loving husband didn’t realize that it was vegetarian.

    In other news, we made it to San Francisco, where we are hunkering down for a month to work and play.  It was hard packing for two little kids for such a long trip (not to mention myself, I’m embarrassed to admit I’m a total travel diva – there are at least a dozen necklaces and six pairs of shoes in my non-negotiable pile).  I was pretty stressed on Saturday, the day before we flew, when I actually dug out the suitcases and realized how much we needed to fit inside them.

    At one point, I was actually on the brink of tears, and the only place I could appeal for sympathy (besides Instagram) was my two year old.  It went like this:

    Me: Theo, we’re going to san francisco tomorrow for a whole month, we haven’t packed anything, I just found out there’s no bed for your brother when we get there, and I haven’t gotten any sleep in days.

    Theo, gazing into the distance: meow (and wanders away licking his paw.)

    I obviously didn’t get the sympathy I wanted, but I got a laugh.  I did eventually get the job done without tears, and we arrived without incident. I’m already totally in love with this city! We’re staying in North Beach.  So beautiful.

    But now I’m faced with 30 days of finding toddler-and baby-friendly things to do on my own in an unfamiliar city where I know no one, while my husband is working full days. HELP ME!

    We’ve been living on pizza and Chinese food for the past 3 days – I haven’t actually inaugurated my new kitchen.  I made this recipe before we left.

    The lentil filling is based on my super-comforting Creamy Lentils recipe, which I loved when I lived in Belgium – my host mom would make it with the smoothest mashed potatoes.  So hearty and delicious.

    I feel like planting my face right into the buttery mashed potato topping right now.  It could take the place of a warm hug. Our adventure is exciting, but traveling with toddler and baby on my own is a bit daunting.  Any words of advice are welcome and appreciated!

    Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie with Lentils

    A hearty, cozy vegetarian shepherd's pie recipe with lentils and creamy mashed potatoes. Ultimate veggie comfort food.
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 1 hour
    Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
    Course: Dinner
    Cuisine: Canadian
    Servings: 6
    Author: Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD


    For Filling

    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 1 medium onion finely chopped
    • 1 large stalk celery finely chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic minced
    • 2 medium carrots peeled and diced
    • 1 1/2 cups green lentils
    • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
    • 5 cups water
    • 1/2 cup whipping cream
    • 1/2 cup whole milk
    • 2 tsp kosher salt or to taste
    • 3 tbsp minced parsley plus more for topping

    For topping

    • 3 medium russet potatoes
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • 3-4 tbsp butter
    • salt and pepper to taste


    • Melt butter in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion and celery and sauté until soft.  Add garlic and cook a minute more, then stir in carrots, lentils, pepper and water. (Salt is intentionally left out at this point, it prevents legumes from softening.)
    • Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, mostly covered, until very tender, about 35 minutes. Stir in cream and milk, then season with salt and stir in parsley. Add a splash of water if the mixture is dry - you want it quite saucy.
    • Cook the potatoes in salted, boiling water until tender, then mash with milk and 3 tbsp butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
    • Spread lentils into a 2-litre (2-quart) casserole dish.  Spread the mashed potatoes on top. Dot with last bit of butter, then bake at 375 until golden on top, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with more parsley, if desired.
    Tried this recipe?tag @foodess


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    Hi, I'm Jennifer Pallian, BSc, RD. I studied cooking, baking and food chemistry in a university lab, have years of experience as a professional test kitchen recipe developer and providing technical baking support to bakeries and home bakers. Want to know why your bread didn't rise? I've got your back.I now work full-time as a blogger, putting the years of science and baking to work right here. On Foodess, I share the best recipes in my arsenal - tested-till-PERFECT recipes for cozy baking, easy recipes for weeknight meals and delicious globally-inspired comfort food, plus lots of science-based cooking and baking tips. Welcome!

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