Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

After making (and devouring) my Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes last week, I was really craving some shepherd’s pie. But, because of the strict budget I’m working with, I decided to make a vegetarian shepherd’s Pie. This warm and comforting dish is still full of deep and rich flavor, even without the meat, and I love all the color and texture that the vegetable medley brings to the plate.

To make up for the meat I made sure to use plenty of vegetables, including mushrooms, which give a nice “meaty” umami flavor. I also added in a cup of cooked lentils for bulk and extra protein. Lentils are great because they cook super fast, have a small shape, and a mild flavor that helps them blend really well into recipes. I often use them half and half with meat to stretch my dollar, but that same technique also works well with vegetables. If you’re not a fan of lentils, no worries. You can just leave them out and you’ll still have a delicious and hearty straight vegetable filling for your vegetarian shepherd’s pie.

I made a second slightly smaller batch of my Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes to top the pie, but you can use any type of mashed potatoes you like (make sure to use vegetable broth in your mashed potatoes to keep this recipe vegetarian). Because the filling for the vegetarian shepherd’s pie is slightly more time consuming, taking a short cut on the mashed potato topping is a good way to save some time and effort. You can even make them the day ahead (like I did). Just be sure to warm them up before trying to spread them onto the pie because cold mashed potatoes don’t exactly “spread.” LOL

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie - BudgetBytes.com

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Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

A colorful vegetable medley and a rich brown gravy make this Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie just as satisfying as its beef counterpart. 

Total Cost $5.87 recipe / $0.98 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked lentils (optional)* $0.21
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 yellow onion $0.31
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 3 carrots $0.37
  • 2 stalks celery $0.38
  • 8 oz. button mushrooms $1.99
  • 3/4 tsp salt $0.03
  • 1 tsp dried thyme $0.10
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • Freshly cracked pepper $0.05
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste $0.11
  • 1 Tbsp flour $0.01
  • 1 cup vegetable broth $0.13
  • 1 cup frozen peas $0.45
  • 4 cups mashed potatoes $1.36

Instructions

  1. Mince the garlic and dice the onion. Sauté the onion and garlic with olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent (3-5 minutes).
  2. While the onions and garlic are cooking, peel and dice the carrots, dice the celery, and slice the mushrooms. Once the onions are soft, add the carrots and celery to the skillet and continue to sauté until the celery begins to soften slightly (5 minutes).
  3. Finally, add the mushrooms, salt, thyme, smoked paprika, and freshly cracked pepper to the skillet. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms have fully softened (3-5 minutes). Add the tomato paste and flour to the skillet. Stir and cook the vegetables with the flour and tomato paste until the vegetables are coated and the pasty mixture begins to coat the bottom of the skillet (about 2 minutes).
  4. Add the vegetable broth to the skillet, stirring to dissolve the flour and tomato paste from the bottom of the skillet. Allow the broth to come up to a simmer, at which point it will become slightly thicker. Stir in the cooked lentils and frozen peas, and allow to mixture to heat through.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Pour the vegetable mixture into a casserole dish, or use your skillet if it is oven safe. Spread the mashed potatoes out over the surface of the vegetables and gravy. Use your spoon to make a decorative pattern in the mashed potatoes, if desired.
  6. Bake the shepherd's pie in the fully preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until everything is heated through. To achieve a browned surface on the mashed potatoes (optional), turn on the oven's broiler (and place the pie under it, if not already), and watch closely until the top has browned to your liking.

Recipe Notes

Using cooked lentils is optional, but the number of servings will be closer to four without them. It should take approximately 1/3 cup dry lentils to make 1 cup cooked.

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie - BudgetBytes.com

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie - BudgetBytes.com

 

Step by Step Photos

Cooked Lentils

Using lentils in your Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie is entirely optional, but I find that it provides more bulk, texture, and protein. You’ll want one cup of cooked lentils for this recipe, which is about 1/3 dry. Cooking lentils is simple, just boil a pot of water, add the lentils, then continue boiling until they’re tender (brown lentils take about 20 minutes). After cooking, drain in a colander. Note: without the lentils you’ll get about four servings out of this recipe.

Whole Vegetables

For the vegetable mix I used 2 stalks celery, 3 carrots, 8oz. button mushrooms, 1 cup frozen peas, 1 yellow onion, and two cloves garlic. Both my celery and peas were on their last leg, but this is a great recipe to use up older vegetables in because they get cooked down and slathered with tasty gravy. :)

Sauté Onion and Garlic

Begin by mincing the garlic and dicing the onion. Sauté the onion and garlic with 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the onions are soft.

Sauté Carrots and Celery

While the onions and garlic are cooking, peel and dice the carrots, and dice the celery. Add them to the skillet and continue to sauté for a few more minutes, or until the celery begins to soften just a tad.

Sauté Mushrooms and Seasonings

While the celery and carrots are cooking, slice the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms to the skillet along with 3/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp thyme, and some freshly cracked pepper. Sauté the mushrooms and seasonings until the mushrooms are soft. My mushrooms came pre-sliced and they were in HUGE pieces, so I broke them up into smaller pieces with my spatula as they cooked.

Cook Flour and Tomato Paste

When the mushrooms are soft, add 1 Tbsp flour and 1 Tbsp tomato paste. Stir the flour and tomato paste into the vegetables until everything is coated in a paste-like mixture. Continue to stir and cook until the paste begins to coat the bottom of the skillet. 

Add Broth and Dissolve

When the flour and tomato paste coat the bottom of the skillet (be careful to not let it burn), add 1 cup vegetable broth. Stir the broth and vegetables to dissolve the paste off the bottom of the skillet. Allow the mixture to heat through and come to a simmer, at which point the broth will thicken slightly.

Stir in Lentils and Peas

Finally, add the frozen peas and cooked lentils (if using), and allow the mixture to heat through. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pour the vegetable mixture into a casserole dish, or just use your skillet if it is oven safe (this is a deep skillet).

Cover with Mashed Potatoes

Cover the vegetable and gravy mixture with about 4 cups of mashed potatoes. Spread the mashed potatoes to evenly cover the surface (mashed potatoes spread easier if they are warm). Use the side and back of a spoon to create a decorative pattern in the mashed potatoes, if desired.

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie - BudgetBytes.com

Bake the vegetarian shepherd’s pie for about 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until it’s heated through. To get the nice browned top, turn on the boiler and watch the pie closely until it’s browned on top (if your broiler is under your oven, you’ll have to transfer the pie to the bottom drawer).

 Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie - BudgetBytes.com

Ohhhhh that gravy, though! 😍

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie - BudgetBytes.com