Heather’s Shepherds Pie

This is my own recipe for Vegetarian Shepherds Pie.  It’s a big hearty dish that will serve six easily with leftovers, and reheats well.

Buying the different types of lentils may seem confusing as some manufacturers call very different things green lentils.  I use the larger, flat, almost grey looking lentils as green lentils.  If they are small and dark brown looking they are also sometimes sold as green lentils!  I would say these are more similar to Puy lentils, though not as firm.  You can use them in place of the Puy lentils here no problem.  Or you could use all green or all Puy or any lentil really, as long as you’ve got 100g of the red lentils and 250g of something else…


  • 1 onion, chopped small
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped small
  • 1 large carrot, chopped small
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 700ml veg stock (I like Kallo)
  • 300ml red wine (any old wine will do)
  • tin chopped tomatoes
  • 100g red lentils
  • 100g green lentils
  • 150g Puy lentils
  • 1 packet flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Other herbs – optional, but they do really add to the flavour.  I usually throw in a handful each of sage and rosemary, finely chopped, and a few thyme sprigs.
  • 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • 1.5kg floury potatoes
  • Knob of butter
  • 180g pack smoked cheddar (I like Applewood)
  • Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic.  Cover and sweat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. While this is happening wash your lentils.  The green and Puy lentils will be fine with a quick rinse but the red ones will need rinsing in several changes of water until the water is clear.

Add the stock and wine to the pan and bring to the boil, then add all your lentils, the chopped tomatoes and your herbs.  Bring to the boil again, reduce the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.  You will need to stir the mixture every now and then.  You want the lentils to soften and absorb the liquid.  If the mixture is drying out and then lentils are not yet soft (taste them!) then add a bit more water and keep doing so until they are soft.  If the lentils are soft and the mixture is still like a soup, don’t worry just keep simmering it till it reduces down – it will be fine.

Once the lentil mixture is simmering, peel your potatoes and chop into even sized chunks.  Place them in a pan, cover with water, add a teaspoon of salt and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes till tender.  They are done when you stick a sharp knife into one and it slips off the knife easily.  Drain the potatoes and leave them in the colander for 3 minutes so they release their steam and dry out a little bit.  Then put them back into your pan and mash them with a potato masher as well as you can.  When they are pretty much mashed, add the knob of butter and mash them a bit more.  Put to one side.  Preheat your oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6.

When your lentil mix is done remove the thyme sprigs if you added them, put in the tamari and season with salt and pepper.  Don’t hold back on the seasoning as lentils need it!  Don’t be tempted to season the mixture before it is cooked as it will impede the softening of the lentils.  Put the lentil mixture into a large lasagne dish or similar, then top with the mashed potato.  It’s easiest to do this by placing big tablespoons all over the top of the dish and then gently smoothing them over with a fork.  Now grate your cheese and sprinkle evenly over the top of the potato.

Place in the hot oven and cook for about 30 minutes. The top should be browning and the lentil mix bubbling up from underneath.  Serve with some green veg.  And if you fancy it, roasted tomatoes like in my picture!

You can make this in advance – just give it longer in the oven.


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