Lentil Mushroom Shepherd's Pie
Just because you're laying off the meat this Veganuary, doesn't mean you have to sacrifice flavour.
by Erin Henderson
January or not, I tend to lean to veg-heavy meals, often forgetting about the meat all together.
Since my teen years, I've waded in and out of vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore diets. I would categorize myself as democratic eater these days, enjoying all food groups, but with a decided edge given to plants.
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I love creating something soothing, delicious, and enticing out of so-called humble ingredients such as the lentils in these excellent sherpherd's pies.
Thanks to the quick-cooking nature of lentils, this is a hearty winter dinner that can get on the table lickety-split for those impatient diners in your house, but also offers a generous and warm welcome for weekend lunch parties after a morning hike in the woods.
Lentil Mushroom Shepherd's Pie
This makes quite a bit of filling, so instead of making a family-sized shepherd's pie in a big lasagna pan, which can lose structure constantly going from fridge to oven to reheat, I scoop my filling into individual, oven-proof ramekins and top each one with mashed potatoes made a la minute. It also makes for a pretty presentation.
Makes: About 8 cups of filling
Chef level: Easy
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- ½ cup carrot, diced
- 1 ½ cup mushrooms, cremini, shitake, portobello, or a mix, diced
- 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 tsp each salt and pepper
- ½ tsp cayenne
- 1 ½ Tbsp white miso paste
- ½ dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
- 2 cups green lentils
- 4 cups mushroom broth
- Fresh thyme sprigs, enough to make about the diameter of a nickel, bundled with kitchen twine
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 ½ Tbsp (vegan) Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp Tamari or soy sauce
- ½ Tbsp Sherry vinegar
- ½ cup Nutritional Yeast
- 2 cups chopped, frozen kale
- Mashed potatoes (or try this celeriac purée reipe for a delicious twist)
How to Make It:
- Warm a large pot with olive oil over med-low heat.
- Add onion, celery, carrot, mushrooms, and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook gently to soften but not colour. About 5 minutes.
- When the vegetables are soft and liquid released, add the miso to the pot stirring to coat the vegetables and pour in the white wine and stirring into a paste.
- Add the lentils, thyme bundle, smoked paprika, and mushroom broth. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer until the lentils are soft to the bite, but not mushy. About 20-30 minutes.
- When the lentil mixture has absorbed most of the broth, but there is still a bit of gravy in the pot, add in the Worcestershire, Tamari, vinegar, and nutritional yeast, stirring to combine.
- Stir in the frozen kale, cooking until it is wilted and soft, about 5 more minutes.
- Adjust the seasonign to your preferances.
- Heat the oven to 350°F
- Scoop the mixture into your desired serving vessel – casserole dish or ramekins – top with mashed potatoes and place in the hot oven to bake through for about 10-15 minutes.
- Broil under high heat for another 5 minutes to get the mashed potatoes crispy on top.
Despite being vegan (or vegetarian depending on how you prepare the mashed potatoes), this is a robust, hearty, and filling dish that could use a wine with a little gravitas to stand up to it. The earthy flavours of the lentils and mushrooms would do well with an equally earthy wine, but one with a bit of acidity to lighten the whole thing up.
I’m partial to Cahors for this dish. Cahors is a region in southwest France which makes rustic, hearty red wines from the Malbec grape. But it’s much different from the fruit-forward, soft Malbecs you know from Argentina. Cahors produces Malbecs that are dense and savoury with a slight herbal note, but good whack of acidity. It absolutely checks the pairing boxes here for flavour and structure.