If you are a new vegetarian, or if you are cooking for vegetarians it can be useful to have meals that are familiar and a direct substitute for a meat based meal. This Veggie Shepherd’s Pie made with lentils is delicious in its own right – you don’t need to be a vegetarian to try it! If you are cooking for vegetarians and meat eaters you can always make a meat based Shepherds’s Pie at the same time.
This vegetarian recipe for a popular meat dish is at least as good, if not better than the original! Low cost and nutritious too!
Lentils – Great Meat Substitute
Lentils make a very good substitute for beef or lamb mince because they can be used in a similar way. Unlike many other pulses, they need no pre-soaking. The main lentils available are red and green lentils. Red lentils have a more mushy texture when cooked, whereas green lentils hold their shape.
I used red lentils in this recipe because I liked the softer texture. The carrots and vegetable add plenty of flavour and different textures.
This dish is cooked in two large saucepans and is then transferred to a large casserole to be baked in the oven.
The Shepherd’s Pie can be frozen in portions for a home cooked ‘ready-meal’ for another day. These portions can be reheated in the oven or in the microwave. You may find that it is one of those dishes where the meat eaters will hardly notice that they are not eating meat!
Low Cost Family Meal
This meal is easy to make and very low cost. Red lentils cost around 60p for 250g and this whole recipe that serves 4-6 people costs around £3.50. In these times of stretched budgets that is good value in anyone’s book. And this is a really delicious and nutritious meal. You don’t feel you are eating on a budget.
There are plenty of vegetables to eat the pie as a whole meal in itself, but if you prefer, serve with a further favourite, seasonal vegetable. It is also good serve with home made baked beans!
Vegetarian Shepherds Pie
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 onion peeled and sliced
- 2 carrots peeled and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed
- 2 sticks celery sliced
- 1 handful kale cabbage or broccoli chopped small
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 250 g red lentils
- 550 ml vegetable stock
- 50 g frozen peas
- 1 teaspoon mixed herbs
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- pinch chilli powder
- pinch salt
- 750 g potatoes peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 150 ml milk
- 50 g cheddar cheese grated
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
- Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of boiling water
- Bring to the boil and simmer until soft
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan
- Add the onion and cook for a few minutes
- Add the carrots, celery and garlic and stir
- Continue cooking on a gentle heat for a few minutes
- Add the tomatoes, tomato puree and stock
- Add the lentils
- Add the mixed herbs, cumin, paprika and chilli
- Bring to the boil and turn down to a gentle simmer for about 20 minutes
- Add the frozen peas and green vegetable and stir
- Cook for a few more minutes
- When the potatoes are cooked pour on the milk and add the butter
- Mash with a masher until smooth
- Place the lentil mixture in the bottom of a casserole
- Place the mashed potato on top
- Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese
- Bake in oven at 180 degrees C for about 40 minutes
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