45 min. 15 min.
Shepherd’s pie is such a comforting childhood food memory for me. Have you seen the movie Ratatouille? It’s like that part when the food critic tastes the rustic ratatouille dish and it brings back happy memories of his mom making rustic country food for him. That’s how I feel about shepherd’s pie. Creamy mashed potatoes on top with a mixture of green beans, spiced tomato sauce, and beef underneath. Except…ground beef? I don’t cook with ground beef much anymore. But I still love this dish enough that I want to keep it on my regular rotation. So my solution is to substitute for the beef with lentils. They are just as filling as meat, MUCH cheaper, and absorb the flavors in the broth, onions, and garlic excellently.
To save time, I use frozen mixed vegetables. These are not something I cook with often. But I feel like using fresh vegetables would make this dish a little too time-intensive, at least for my window of designated cooking time and my children’s appetites. If you have more time, fewer kids, or a family that is more patient than mine, feel free to chop a couple carrots and/or steam some fresh beans to use in this dish. This would also be an opportune time to use up some leftover roasted side-dish vegetables. Make it your own with whatever your family likes, and this dish is sure to be comforting, healthy, and delicious!
Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Garlic Potatoes
Prep time: 45 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour
1/2 large yellow onion
4 cloves garlic (divided)
1 1/2 cups dry brown lentils
4 cups beef or vegetable broth
1 tsp dried thyme
8 oz tomato sauce
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
3 cups frozen vegetables or chopped fresh vegetables such as carrots, beans, etc.
3 lbs red potatoes
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp fresh thyme plus more to garnish (optional)
Fill one large saucepan with water and another with 4 cups of broth. Put both on the stove to boil. Chop the onion and one clove of garlic. When the broth is boiling, add the onions, garlic, lentils, and thyme. Reduce to a simmer and set a timer for 25 minutes. Check them periodically to make sure the liquid doesn’t cook off too quickly. If needed, add a few tablespoons of water part-way through the cooking time.
Meanwhile, wash and cut the potatoes in large chunks. Smash and peel remaining garlic. Add potatoes and peeled garlic to the other pot of boiling water and set another timer for 15 minutes. If you are using fresh vegetables, steam, microwave, or boil them as needed. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
When the lentils are cooked, they should be mostly dry, but with enough moisture left that they don’t burn. Turn off the heat and stir in the tomato sauce, Worchestershire sauce, and vegetables. When the potatoes are done, drain them and mash in the pot, adding butter, yogurt, salt, pepper, and 1 Tbsp fresh thyme (if desired).
Lightly oil or spray a 9×13 casserole dish or pan. Pour in the lentil mixture, level, and spread the potatoes over the top. Bake for 10 minutes; then broil for 5 more minutes to brown the top slightly.