This vegan Shepherd's Pie is a hearty comfort meal perfect for the holidays. Serve this up for Thanksgiving as a delicious plant-based side dish or entree!
I'll admit it, traditional Shepherd's pie isn't really my thing. I was never a big fan of meals that had ground beef in them, so when I removed red meat from my diet about 5 years ago, Shepherd's pie wasn't something I missed or craved.
But as I was thinking about plant-powered meals you can serve for the holidays, Shepherd's pie popped into my head. It's definitely not a standard Thanksgiving (or even Christmas) meal, but it totally works this time of year. It's comfort food at its finest, can serve a crowd and is simple to make ahead.
Since I know a lot of you are also following a primarily plant-powered diet, the beef had to go. Instead, we're making a lentil + quinoa vegan Shepherd's pie!
I love using quinoa in recipes like this because it acts very similarly to ground beef (at least texturally wise). You might have a hard time making quinoa actually taste like beef, but that's not what we're after. We're after the texture.
Just like in my Sweet Potato + Black Bean Quinoa Chili, the quinoa is there to give you that same “ground beef” feel, so even the meat eaters in your family will enjoy it.
So this is exactly the same strategy we're using with this vegan Shepherd's pie. The lentils are giving us the protein and the quinoa is there to give us that ground beef feel.
To boost the flavor of the recipe even more, I cooked the lentils and quinoa in a vegetable broth with some fresh thyme and bay leaves. Honestly, you could just stop here it was so delicious. I'm definitely adding this lentil-quinoa mixture to my meal prep list for next week. I'm thinking it would be awesome on some greens with a garlic-tahini dressing!
But that's for another time. Let's focus on this Shepherd's pie…
To bulk the base up even more, we're also adding a blend of sauteed mushrooms, carrots, onions and celery.
Not only does this stretch the filling a bit more, but it's another great way to add flavor and texture. And you're also sneaking in more veggies, so that's another win.
Let's all be honest though, what we really love about Shepherd's pie is the taters on top!
Again, we're bucking tradition a little and making a whipped sweet potato topping instead of white potatoes. You could totally use white potatoes instead, but I am sweet potato-obsessed this time of year and I love the way it tastes.
Making the whipped sweet potato topping is super simple. You just boil your potatoes until they are fork tender, drain the water and use an electric mixer to whip them up. To make them nice and creamy, I add some non-dairy milk and vegan butter.
It's my go-to way of making mashed sweet potatoes and they are heavenly. (<– again, another great addition to your Thanksgiving Day table)
It might seem like we have a lot of steps going on in this recipe, but trust me it's easier than it looks.
Your lentils and quinoa will cook while the potatoes are boiling. You'll do your veggie sautee when both of those are done. Then you just gotta mix the filling together, whip the potatoes, layer it up in your dish and pop it in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes.
Start to finish I think it will take you less than an hour to make and again, it's one of those meals that keeps well in the fridge or freezer. You can either make it ahead OR you could use it as a meal prep option for your lunches/dinners throughout the week.
Either way, you won't go wrong making this vegan Shepherd's pie this winter. It's hearty, filling, warm comforting, nutrient-dense and everything your body wants on a cold winter night. Hope you enjoy it!
When you end up making the recipe, let me know in the comments or by sharing a photo with me on Instagram by tagging @simplyquinoa or #simplyquinoa. Can't wait to see!
More Thanksgiving Recipes to Try:
- Creamy Chili Roasted Pumpkin Soup
- Vegan Lentil + Quinoa Meatloaf
- Mushroom & Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
- One-Pot Root Vegetable + Lentil Quinoa Stew
- Butternut Squash & Sage Cornbread
- Easy Quinoa Stuffing
- Roasted Veggie Quinoa Salad with Toasted Spice Vinaigrette
- Maple Roasted Butternut Squash with Pecans
- Roasted Brussels Sprout Quinoa Salad
- Vegan Pumpkin Pie with Almond Flour Pie Crust
Vegan Shepherd's Pie
for the sweet potatoes
- 2 lbs sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1
- 1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
for the filling
- 3/4 cup green/brown lentils
- 1/4 cup quinoa I used rainbow
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups chopped button mushrooms about 1 container
- 1 cup diced white onion about 1/2 a medium
- 1 cup diced celery about 3 stalks
- 1/2 cup chopped carrot about 1 medium
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder optional
- Add the sweet potatoes to a pot and top with water. Bring to a rolling boil then cover and let cook for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the lentils and quinoa to a small saucepan. Cover with 2 cups of broth, the fresh thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes until the water has been absorbed.
- When the potatoes are done cooking, drain the water and add in non-dairy milk, butter, salt and pepper. With an electric mixer, whip potatoes until smooth and creamy. Cover and set aside.
- When the lentils are done, preheat the oven to 425ºF and heat the olive oil in a large skillet (or dutch oven) over medium heat.
- Add the mushrooms, onion, celery, carrot and garlic powder to the hot skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook until veggies are tender, about 10 minutes. Add lentil-quinoa mixture and stir to combine. Stir in balsamic vinegar and 1 cup of broth.
- Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup broth together with the arrowroot powder and in a separate dish. Once smooth, stir into the filling mixture.
- Transfer the lentil mixture to a baking dish (I used a 2 qt, but 9x13 will also work). Smooth with a spatula and top with whipped potatoes. Spread the potatoes out in an even layer and smooth over with a spatula. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 15 - 20 minutes until potatoes have browned slightly.
- Remove and let cool for 5 minutes then serve!
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