Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

When we cook for a large group of people and I have to come up with some sort of vegetarian version of the dish we’re making, we often find ourselves with extra beans or vegetables to use up.  This time it was about a quarter pound of cooked green lentils.  I never think lentils should expand when they’re cooked, but they always do.  This past week was no exception to that rule.  Not wanting them to go to waste, I sought out a recipe to use them up.

I came across a recipe for lentil shepherd’s pie that also used up some potatoes we had around.  The recipe I found used red lentils instead of the green we had in excess, so I improvised it.  Though we weren’t too wowed by this dish last night when we made it, we found that it was so much better and flavorful for lunch today.  This would be a good meal to make the filling the day before and let sit overnight.  Warm it up gently while you cook the mashed potatoes and finish it off with the broiling.

lentil shepherd's pie

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Adapted from The Best 30-Minute Recipe (America’s Test Kitchen) with inspiration from Veganess Eats

Notes: This recipe was definitely an improvised one, so you could customize it as many ways as you want, too.  Switch up the veggies, used leftover mashed potatoes, try out some different spices.  This is just a guide as to what we did with approximations of the vegetable measurements – use them as guidelines and add more or less as you like.  You can also skip the broiling part and just serve the lentils with a scoop of mashed potatoes on top.


  • 1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes (3 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed or 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 4 medium sized carrots, cut in 1/4 inch slices (or use 2 cups frozen pea-carrot medley, thawed instead of this and the peas)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups broth
  • 1/4 pound dried lentils, pre-cooked
  • 1 1/2 t minced fresh thyme
  • 2 generous t Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 to a 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 to a 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • lemon
  • 4 T butter
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half or milk
  1. Cover potatoes with an inch of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.potatoes in saucepan
  2. Heat 1 T olive oil in 12-inch skillet (oven safe if possible) over medium heat.  When warm, add the onions and carrots and cook until slightly browned.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.  Set aside.carrots and onions being sauteed
  3. Add another 3 T olive oil (or use some butter if you’d like).  Stir in tomato paste and flour and cook until incorporated.  (Add a bit more oil if needed.)
  4. Slowly whisk in the broth until no lumps remain.  Mix in thyme, and Worcestershire.  You may need to add more broth or water if it gets a bit too thick.sauce being whisked
  5. Add the carrots, onions and lentils and stir well to combine.  Let the lentils heat through.
  6. Turn the heat down and add corn and peas to heat through as well.  Again, you might need to add some water or broth to loosen the mixture a bit.  Add the juice of 1/2 a lemon, salt and pepper to taste and set mixture aside while you finish the mashed potatoes.finished filling of lentil shepherd's pie
  7. Pre-heat broiler.
  8. Drain the potatoes and return to saucepan to mash.  Stir in 2 T butter, half-and-half or milk and season with salt and pepper.  They should be a nice spreading consistency, so add more milk if needed.potatoes being mashed
  9. Melt the remaining 2 T butter.
  10. If your skillet is not oven safe, transfer your lentil mixture to an 8×8 broiler safe baking dish.  Then dollop the mashed potatoes over the mixture and smooth into a thin layer.  Brush the potatoes with melted butter.pre-baked
  11. Place under broiler for 3 – 5 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown.  Let cool slightly and then enjoy!

shepherd's pie baked and out of the oven

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