After a few posts about desserts and fancy appetizers, it was time for me to post a family-friendly weeknight dinner recipe. I’d been wanting to create a vegan shepherds pie, and when I couldn’t decide what to cook for dinner yesterday, I accepted the challenge.
Traditional shepherds pie is a comforting one-dish meal consisting of ground beef, peas, and carrots in a brown gravy, topped with a mashed potato crust. With so much red meat and dairy (in the mashed potatoes), shepherds pie is hardly good for you. My healthier lentil version maintains that filling, comfort-food quality without all of the saturated fat. And to make it a little more special, I topped the whole thing with steamed potato gnocchi (gluten-free), broiled to a golden brown and sprinkled with cracked black pepper and fresh thyme.
I buy my gnocchi from the pre-made pasta and ravioli section at Harris Teeter, but you can also buy it at Whole Foods. This pie required two 9-oz packages, but you might have to eyeball it depending on the size of your casserole dish and the brand of gnocchi you buy.
If you look closely at the photos, you will notice a light sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. I am not including this in the recipe, because I found that it added nothing to the dish and made it no longer vegan.
Lentil Shepherds Pie with Gnocchi Crust
- 2 T. Earth Balance
- 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped (I used baby bellas)
- 2 T. GF flour
- 1-2 t. minced fresh thyme
- 1-2 t. minced fresh rosemary
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups vegetable broth (2 cups water + 1 veg. bullion cube)
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 T. Worcestershire sauce (vegan, if that’s your thing)
- 1 cup peas (frozen, thawed)
- 2 15.5-oz cans cooked lentils, drained (I used Eden Organics seasoned lentils with onion & bay leaves)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- ~18 oz. potato gnocchi (I used GF)
- Fresh thyme sprigs for garnish
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the 2 T. Earth Balance, then cook the onions, carrots, and celery until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms, flour, garlic, and herbs, and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add the vegetable broth, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 10 minutes. Add the wine and Worcestershire sauce and continue simmering another 15-20 minutes, or until the gravy is thick and the vegetables are tender (if this is taking too long, you may need to increase the heat to medium for a few more minutes). Add the peas and lentils, and continue cooking for a few more minutes until the filling is reheated. Taste for seasoning.
- While the vegetables are simmering, preheat the broiler and bring a medium saucepan with about an inch of water to a boil. Place gnocchi in a steam basket and steam, covered, 2-3 minutes until the gnocchi are completely soft like marshmallows.
- Pour the filling into a large casserole dish and, using tongs, place the steamed gnocchi on top of the filling. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, then broil for about 5 minutes to brown the tops of the gnocchi.
- Remove and sprinkle with fresh thyme or rosemary, if desired. Serve using a large spoon. Enjoy!
To reheat, cover lightly with foil and heat in the oven about 15 minutes at 350°F.
This is a dish the whole family will love! It’s also a great meal to take to friends or family members who are in need of a home-cooked meal.
This dish turned out so well, I’m adding it to our regular meal rotation! 🙂