Recipe: Classic Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

Classic Vegan Shepherd's Pie | IPOM

Hey all! What a week! Here I am coming up for a little air and breathing deeply at the thought of a quiet weekend at home – I feel I’ve been a little MIA here the past few days – we’ve just finished up a whirlwind week of kids Christmas concerts, choirs, and gifts for teachers and friends, not to mention craziness at work & the rest of the prep for Christmas……it is now officially time to breathe.

I won’t go into details, but after my last post exactly a week ago today, I was pretty rattled and blogging really was the furthest thing from my mind (it was always lurking back there though). With the husband being a little under the weather, we battened down the hatches and stuck around the house in our free moments (which there were very few of).

It may be cold & dark outside, but tonight it’s warm & bright in the house. The kids are home for two weeks now, and we get to be together. No soccer, no school, no running around. Just us. How truly blessed we are!

Classic Vegan Shepherd's Pie | IPOM

With all the goodness time at home with family brings, comes the memories of favorite times spent around the table with family as kids. Nostalgic meals that bring us back to the safe places where we store and guard our coziest childhood memories, and still perhaps recall the tastes and smells of the food we ate, and maybe even the stories we told.

This recipe is that for me. Growing up, we ate Shepherd’s Pie with lentils often, and always with straight mashed potatoes and maybe even ketchup (for us kids). I’ve been meaning to bring this back over the years and must thank my good friend Danielle for the push (a huge yes to the soaked walnuts and coconut butter!) and also to the Moosewood Cookbook, as I borrowed the very best parts of Mollie’s infamous lentil mushroom burger for this as well.

The result is a perfect comfort food to share with loved ones at any time, but particularly wonderful on a cold dark night like tonight, the darkest night of the year. Thanks to my mom for the original inspiration behind this truly delicious & ultra classic recipe!

Classic Vegan Shepherd's Pie | IPOM

The Less:

Less meat based main dishes means less heavy, hard to break down proteins. Less time to digest means more lightness and less time in your tummy. Less wheat and grain based main courses means filling up on lean plant fuel, so easy satisfaction comes light, healthy, and heavenly.

The More:

More plant-based eating means more ways to stretch your dollars. More healthy legumes and vegetables means more fiber & friendly digestion. More mushrooms, garlic, and walnuts means rich satisfying flavor, so missing out on anything while eating healthy is next to impossible.

Classic Vegan Shepherd's Pie | IPOM

Classic Vegan Shepherd’s Pie:

The Proteins:

  • (1) cup raw walnuts, soaked for 4-6 hours minimum or overnight
  • (1) cup dry green lentils
  • (3) cups water for cooking lentils
  • (1) tsp salt
  • (1) tbsp prepared Dijon mustard

The Vegetables:

  • (2) tbsp olive oil
  • (1/2) tsp salt
  • (1) large onion, chopped finely
  • (10) large white button mushrooms, chopped finely (about 5 cups total)
  • (2) cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • (2) cups green kale, washed & chopped finely
  • (2) medium-large carrots, peeled & diced
  • (1) tsp salt (to taste – this is optional but I recommend it)*

The Topping:

  • (4) yellow fleshed medium potatoes, peeled & chopped (4-5 cups)
  • (1/4) cup raw cashews
  • (1/2) cup cold water
  • (1-2) tbsp coconut butter (or any butter)
  • (1/2) tsp salt (optional)
  • olive oil for the top while cooking
  • chopped fresh parsley or chives to garnish

To prepare, start by soaking the walnuts in advance in enough water to cover (you can do this either the night before or the morning of). To prepare for the pie, drain, rinse & chop the walnuts with a sharp knife to a coarse chop and set aside in a bowl.

Next, combine the lentils and 3 cups of cold water for cooking in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down, and cook, partially covered for 30-40 minutes until the lentils are soft. Most of the water should get used up in the cooking but feel free to drain if needed once the lentils are soft, and also if the water is gone before the cooking is finished feel free to add as required. Set the cooked (and drained if needed) lentils in a bowl and mix with salt. Mash a little with your hands or a spoon and set aside to cool.

Prepare the vegetables for cooking and when ready, heat a large pan with olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and salt, and cook for 6-8 minutes or until soft. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook a further 10 -12 minutes, until all of the water is completely evaporated and the mushrooms are starting to turn a rich brown. Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes until everything is mixed together (it will smell amazing). Remove this mixture from the pan and set aside in a large mixing bowl.

Classic Vegan Shepherd's Pie | IPOM

Using the same pan, add another bit of oil and re-heat on medium. Add the chopped carrots and cook for 3 minutes, stirring to coat well and cook evenly. Add the chopped kale and cook for 2-3 minutes further, until the kale is bright green and just softening. Remove from heat and add to the onion/mushroom/garlic mixture.

Next, combine the peeled & chopped potatoes in a small pot with a few inches of water. Bring the water to a boil with the lid on, and once boiling, turn the heat to medium and cook for 8-10 minutes with the lid on, until the potatoes are soft.

While the potatoes cook, combine the cashews & water in a blender and blend until smooth – you should have a creamy sauce with no lumps. Drain the cooked potatoes and mash them lightly with a fork, add the coconut butter, cashew cream, and optional salt and mix all well until you have light and fluffy mashed potatoes. Season to taste and set aside.

Classic Vegan Shepherd's Pie | IPOM

Next, combine the cooked lentils, cooked vegetables, chopped walnuts and Dijon mustard together in the large mixing bowl and mix with your hands until perfectly combined.

*Check for salt and add an additional teaspoon if you like.

When ready to cook, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a standard glass pie plate (my mom used to serve hers in a cast iron fry-pan) and spread the entire filling mixture on the bottom. Spread to make it even and condensed.

Next, spread the mashed potatoes over top of the filling. Use a fork to make ‘waves’ on the top (or however you like it!) and top with a generous swirl or two of olive oil. Bake the pie uncovered in the oven for 40 minutes, until a nice golden crispy crust forms on the potatoes. Remove from the oven and serve hot, with or without chopped fresh parsley or chives as a garnish. Leftovers keep very well, and are also great cold (I speak from experience here!)

Classic Vegan Shepherd's Pie | IPOM

Memories are made of meals like this. Warm, healthy soul food to feed your heart and your soul. I’m so delighted to head into the new year with a warm belly and an even warmer heart. Thanks to all of you for your part in this!

Wishing you all the warmest, safest, and healthiest of holidays! Merry Christmas to all 🙂

Yours in Less (with hugs),

Email Handwritten Signature


Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

37 responses to “Recipe: Classic Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

  1. Shira, have a joy-filled, blessed Christmas!

  2. Susan

    This looks yummy…and so flexible for us rebels who like to tweak. Hope you are out of your “blah” funk…sounds like you got there. I think it’s the time of year…so stressful that we all lose sight of what’s important. Merry Christmas…and, if it helps, you have been a huge influence on me and how to “clean” and simplify not only my cooking, but my life as well. 🙂

    • Wow thanks Susan! Words like yours always make my day – and thank you for your thoughts – it passed! I just had to get through the ‘list of a million things’ week – I made it through unscathed and am much better indeed! So happy to inspire and to hear you are enjoying the simple things 🙂 Appreciate that very much!

  3. Shira. Shira. This looks amazing. I wish I saw this before I went grocery shopping for the next week, because this would totally be our Christmas dinner. This is happening as soon as we get back, though. That mashed potato topping…. Girl, you did this just right! Happy, happy holidays! xoxo

    • Thank you Kristy! I’d hoped to post this sooner, but alas – here she is! Hope you enjoy it – and have a super duper fantastic Christmas! Lots of love from Vancity! XO

  4. Margaret Sullivan

    It looks so yummy. It looks perfect for Christmas party. Merry Christmas.

  5. How beautiful! I have ingredient questions–is coconut butter different from coconut oil? And are your large mushrooms portobellos? I’m trying to think how many mushrooms it takes to make 5c finely chopped–a pound, do you think? Or do you say half a kg? 🙂 I’ll obviously be making this soon, thank you for all the great vegan inspiration lately! Happy holidays, friend. 🙂

    • Thanks Emmy! Great questions! Yes, coconut oil should do just fine as long as it is hard at room temp – and good question about the mushrooms (I adjusted above too) – I used 10 extra large white mushrooms for this as they are easy to chop really small (not sure about #’s, maybe 1.5?) – they cook down well and provide such a wonderful textural quality with the soft lentils and chewy walnuts 🙂 I AM on a bit of a vegan kick lately and got this done in time for our company Christmas dinner where it was one of the vegan options. So good! Merry Christmas to you! XO

  6. Merry Christmas to you and your family! I am intrigued by your use of coconut butter and I am going to look out for some here. Your Shepherd’s Pie looks delicious!

  7. Oh wow I just love the addition of the walnuts in the “meat” part! And the cashews and coconut butter in the potatoes must make it so creamy! Shepherds pie was always one of my favourites. Must have been the potato 🙂 MUST try your version!

    Merry Christmas Shira 🙂

  8. Looks really lovely,Shira. I don’t think I’d ever stop eating lamb shepherds pie, but I’d indulge in this from time to time, hehe!

    • I thought a few of my faves would like my FB comment – especially my meat loving friends (which also happens to include my husband too) – but he ate it and loved it! He didn’t even know there was kale in there…… 🙂

  9. moderngirlnutrition

    This looks absolutely amazing! I love the addition of nuts. Have a great weekend!

  10. Oh Shira, that looks delicious! Thank you for another fab recipe.Merry Christmas 🙂 xx

  11. Looks heavenly! I’m going to give it a try next week.

  12. Yum yum – – a “peasant” dish but with so much richness. Beautiful, Shira. Warm holiday hugs to you and yours!

  13. Who needs meat when there are dishes like this to be enjoyed? Wishing you and yours, Shira, the very Best of Holidays!

  14. New Yorker Chic

    Yum! This looks delicious. Love your blog.

    If you’re interested in NYC Dining and some awesome food photographs, feel free to check out my blog at !!

  15. I hope you and your family had an amazing “slow down” couple of days – those days are the best, incredibly recharging! Shepards Pie (which we also call Chinese Pie) was one of my most favoirte dinners my Mom would make – I still request it as my Birthday Dinner each year! It is also one of the first recipes that I veganized 🙂 my mom would sprinkle hers with paprika, justin’s mom would cover theirs in cheese – today we do a little bit of daiya and paprika – thanks for sharing this increible version of your own shepards pie!

  16. This looks fantastic! I have also made a vegetarian shepherds pie using sweet potato on top which gives it a lovely sweeness.

  17. I just adore how you snuck some kale in there. Shepherd’s pie is one of my favorites. When I first went vegan I made it with some mock vegan ground crumbles. Um, not delicious. I haven’t attempted it since, it’s time to give this recipe a go, you’ve never steered me wrong 🙂 I probably cook more off your blog than any other (shhh) 😉

  18. What a fantastic recipe! Hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday season together!


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