Shepherdess Pie

I’ve always had a peculiar fondness for shepherds pie. It’s food that’s big on comfort and hard to beat as a hearty warming meal. Since last night was Guy Fawkes night (or bonfire night, always a big celebration in the UK) and we lit sparklers in the garden after school, this lentil and vegetable shepherd’s pie was just the ticket to warm up afterwards.

I have a real aversion to ‘fake meat’ products… you know the type of thing that is vegetarian but trying to look and taste exactly like its meaty counterpart. It’s just not for me.  With that in mind I tend to use lentils rather than a mince substitute for the bulk of the pie filling – turning this dish into a healthy, satisfying and unmistakably vegetarian meal. You can blitz the filling a little or not at all depending on your preference.

Shepherdess Pie (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

serves at least 4

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stick celery, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red onion, deseeded and chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tins green or brown lentils
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tomato tin filled with water
  • (optional) 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp balsamic
  • 1-2 tbsps tomato ketchup
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 baking potatoes
  • 2 tbsps dairy-free spread

– In some olive oil sauté the onion, carrot and celery until softened but not browned.
– Add the pepper, oregano and garlic and continue sautéing. Once all the vegetables are nicely softened add the mushrooms and cook briefly.
– Pour in the wine, making sure to scrape up any residue. Reduce by 2/3rds.
– Stir in the tomato purée and cook out for a minute or two.
– Add the lentils and stir so all the veg are nicely combined
– Add the chopped tomatoes and water.
– Stir well and add the soy sauce (if using), balsamic and tomato ketchup.
– Simmer over a low heat for up to an hour.
– Taste and season as desired.
– (optional) Using a hand blender, blend half the mix to give a more combined texture.
– Meanwhile, make the mash. I like to bake my potatoes, then squeeze through a ricer, then stir in the dairy free spread
– Spread the lentil mix in the bottom of an earthenware baking dish.
– Top with the mashed potatoes
– Bake for 45 minutes until the top is thoroughly browned and the pie is steaming hot.


– Serve with fresh vegetables, preferably peas!