Cosy Food: Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Cosy Food: Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

I’m writing this whilst gazing out over a wintry canal. The bull rushes opposite are flaying their leaves in the stiff breeze and even the moorhen looks perturbed by the rain. It’s the type of day when you need to nest. The type of day you crave wholesome, cosy food—the type of day where only a Shepherd’s Pie will do.

When you think about it, shepherd’s, or cottage, pie is the ultimate homely, comfort food. I’ve switched out the traditional lamb or beef to create this plant-based version. It’s still just as wholesome and packed full of seasonal veg. The topping is no longer straight-up mash but now a combination of celeriac and swede. The filling is a hearty mix of protein-packed lentils, carrots, mushrooms and a few creamy butter beans.

I also served it with a dollop of our hedgerow foraged hawthorn ketchup which is linked here.

If you do give this recipe a go, please don’t baulk at the idea of adding a spoonful of Marmite. It can sound a little different even for the biggest yeast extract aficionado. However, it is one of the best ways to add a real depth of flavour, especially in vegetarian meals. If you can’t stand the thought of adding the black syrup to your meal then some brown miso would be the perfect substitute.

For more recipes, click here. Also, please do let me know what you make of the recipe and feel free to share your perfect autumn meals by DM’ing me on insta.


  • If you don’t fancy the celeriac mash and suede mash then swop them out for the more traditional potato topping
  • When adding the tomato puree be sure to cook it off before deglazing the pan. This is how you get the biggest flavour kick
  • Feel free to switch the glass of wine for some extra veg stock if avoiding alcohol.

YOU’LL NEED – For the filling

  • a large onion or two small. I used red but the option’s yours – Diced
  • a large carrot or again, two small. Don’t bother peeling but cut into cubes
  • 4 cloves of garlic – Chopped
  • 300g or so of mushrooms – Chopped
  • a bay leaf
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp of tomato puree
  • a glass of wine
  • can of chopped tomatoes
  • 250g lentils. I used a combo of red and green. I try to soak the green for 30 mins before cooking
  • a tin of butter beans + the water they’re in
  • sprig of rosemary and thyme
  • 200ml veg stock
  • 1 tsp of marmite or brown miso
  • A few drops of Worcestershire sauce (Henderson’s relish is vegan)
  • salt and lots of pepper

YOU’LL NEED – For the mash

  • a celeriac + a swede – peeled and cut into chunks
  • butter (I used vegan block)
  • nutritional yeast (or cheese if you’re not vegan)
  • a tbsp of mustard – I use English, although any will do
  • salt


  1. start by heating a little oil in a pan over a gentle heat. Add your onions + carrots alongside the bay leaf. You want to allow a bit of time for these to soften and caramelise a little, usually about 10/15 mins. Stirring occasionally.
  2. add your garlic and fry for a few minutes longer. Then go in with your mushrooms. They have a tendency to release a lot of water whilst they cook so allow that liquid to evaporate before moving to the next stage.
  3. squidge in the tomato puree and smoked paprika. Fry for a minute or so. Once the puree changes colour slightly it’s time to add the wine (or extra veg stock if using that instead). Use this to deglaze the pan (basically, find and mix up the burnt bits on the bottom. They add amazing flavour)
  4. once the wine stop smelling winey then you can add the tin of tomatoes, butter beans and good veg stock. Next, rinse the lentils and add to the pan with the sprigs of thyme and rosemary.
  5. add a dollop of marmite and season the mix with a good helping of pepper and salt.
  6. bring the pan to a boil then drop it to a simmer for around 40 minutes or until the lentils soften. Stir occasionally to stop the filling from catching on the bottom of the pan. Add a few dashes of the vegan Worcestershire sauce to taste.

Whilst the lentils simmer, make the mash… + preheat the oven to 180c

  1. put your swede and celeriac into a pan of cold water alongside some salt. Bring to the boil then simmer for around 20 mins. Until the veg gets very soft and easy to mash
  2. drain the water and allow steam to evaporate away from the cubed celeriac and swede. Add the veg back to the pan with a good knob of butter, some more salt and pepper, the yeast flakes and mustard. Now, mash!


  1. in a decent-sized baking dish, tip your lentil filling to create a thick layer, then spoon out your mash and gently place it on top of the filling.
  2. carefully spread the mash out over the pie so the entire surface is covered. Use a fork to mark some pretty patterns on the surface. Add a little drizzle of olive oil over the top and put it into the oven. Bake at around 180 for 30 minutes or until the pie is bubbling and the top is looking brown.

Serve the pie alongside some seasonal cabbage or peas. It keeps well and freezes great.

Jack Miles
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