vegan sweet potato shepherd’s pie.

A couple of weeks back, after a conversation about comfort food, a lovely friend asked me to veganize a traditional Shepherd's Pie. Oh man, challenge accepted. I love revamping old recipes to make them better for us, including swapping in more nutrient dense ingredients (sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes), plants instead of animals (here, lentils instead of beef), and making things from scratch to cut out unnecessary preservatives or artificial ingredients (homemade mushroom gravy instead of the boxed kind). It's these little steps that add up to a clearer mind, more energy, easier weight maintenance, better digestion... and generally feeling good about the choices we make for our bodies. 

Shepherd's Pie Whole

I have a happy little spot in my brain where memories of Shepherd's Pie from childhood lives: Momma P. makes the best {non-vegan} one, which I haven't had in probably ten years since a) moving out and b) giving up animal foods. I remember that the proportions of meat-and-veggie filling to creamy mashed potatoes to silky gravy was always just perfect, the best part being how the edges of the potatoes got a little crispy while it baked. This was absolutely my mission when trying to figure out how to make a healthified, vegan and gluten-free version.

 In place of the traditional ground beef filling, I decided to use lentils: they are high in protein and iron (like beef), and also lend a nice meaty texture... sans meat. 

In place of storebought gravy or beef stock, I made up a batch of mushroom gravy, which I've used in a variety of recipes previously {including these stuffed squash}. Adding the gravy not only adds great flavor and extra mushroomy chewiness; it also keeps the filling together,  so you have a nice creamy middle instead of a semi-dry pile of lentils, plus kale, corn and onions.

Shepherds Pie Middle

The nice thing about this - and I suppose the spirit of a Shepherd's Pie in general - is that you can throw in whatever veggies you have handy. Peas, corn, carrots, beans, other legumes, onions... whatever speaks to you! This kind of hot baked casserole is definitely best suited to colder months, but because you can be flexible with ingredients, you could really make this any time of year. (Shallots and new potatoes in spring? Zucchini in summer? Squash in fall? Hurray for versatile dishes!)

Shepherds Pie Plated

To save time, have your sweet potatoes in the steamer while you prep and sautee your veggie filling and gravy. Use any extra gravy as an accompaniment for serving, or hang onto it in the fridge for another meal. Check out this Vegan Lentil Meatloaf -- the gravy would be awesome with this, too!) 

Happy comfort fooding! 

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Vegan Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie
Serves 6
A completely vegan, gluten-free, packed-with-nutrients-not-white-potatoes adaptation of Shepherd's Pie.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
  1. **Sweet Potato Layer
  2. 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
  3. 3 tbsp vegan butter
  4. **Veggie Layer
  5. 1 tbsp oil
  6. 2 medium onions, diced
  7. 2 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  8. 1 15oz can cooked lentils
  9. 2 loosely packed cups kale, cut into ribbons
  10. **Mushroom Gravy Layer
  11. 1 tbsp olive oil
  12. 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  13. 1 tsp dried sage
  14. 1 tsp dried thyme
  15. 2 cups baby bella or crimini mushrooms, sliced
  16. salt and pepper to taste
  17. 1/3 cup cooking sherry or cheap red wine
  18. 4 tbsp chickpea flour
  19. 1/2 cup water
  1. 1. Place sweet potatoes in a steamer basket and steam until tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and blend with vegan butter until smooth. Set aside.
  2. 2. Heat oil over medium heat and sautee onions until soft and translucent, about 12 minutes. Add corn and continue cooking about 5 minutes. (If using frozen corn, cook until corn is thawed and softened.)
  3. 3. While you wait for these to cook together, heat remaining oil over medium in a sauce pan. Add fennel, sage and thyme and let it cook through until fragrant (about 90 seconds). Add mushrooms and stir to coat with spice-oil mixture. Season with salt and pepper, reduce heat, and cook for about 10 minutes. Mushrooms should release their juices and then reabsorb them: at this point, add 1/4 cup of the mushrooms from your other skillet, add sherry and stir.
  4. 4. Return to your corn-onion mixture: add lentils and kale, stirring to combine everything evenly. Cover and cook for about 4 minutes more, until kale wilts a little and everything is heated through.
  5. *At this point, turn the oven on to 350F to preheat.
  6. 5. Return to your gravy: whisk in the chickpea flour and 2 tbsp of water at a time. Whisk to remove any flour lumps, add a little more water, repeat until it reaches a thick, gravy-like consistency. Remove from heat.
  7. 6. In a casserole dish or ceramic baking dish with sides at least 3” high, spoon in veggie mixture, then gravy, then top with sweet potato puree. Smooth it out with a spoon. Transfer dish to oven and bake for 35 minutes, until potatoes brown a little around the edges.
  8. 7. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
From The Ground Up Wellness
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