Lentils were something I had not even heard of (along with the term “legume”) years ago, but now they are a staple is our pantry because, not only are they a nutritious super food, cheap and delicious, they are so easy to cook and don’t require the preparation and soaking like beans. Lentils are high in fiber, protein, and iron and are great for battling some of America’s biggest health epidemics, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, IBS, and even fatigue.
On top of all that, they are an awesome, animal-free way to substitute ground beef. If you’ve never had lentils before, they are bland alone, but can soak up any flavor to perfection, which makes them so easy to cook with. For this recipe, I sauteed some onion and minced garlic, then added in the lentils along with some vegetable broth. I feel like lentils are always better when cooked in a broth over water. Then I add in a little thyme and let that simmer over a medium-low heat for 25 minutes covered, then 10 minutes uncovered.
The thyme is what really makes this shepherds pie. Without it, it’s not even close to as savory and delicious. You will 100% understand when you try this yourself, I guarantee it!
My mom gifted me some new vegetable, fruit, and herb plants for Mother’s Day, and included in that was a nice batch of fresh thyme. I took this as an opportunity to use it, as we all know, fresh herbs just taste so much more… well… fresh! You can, however, use half the amount (or 1 tsp) of dry thyme if that’s what you have on hand. It will still be delicious!
While the lentils are cooking, chop the potatoes and boil them until they are soft and a fork easily slides through them. This usually takes about 12 minutes, but will depend on how small/large you cut your potatoes. Naturally, smaller pieces will take less time. Then, you drain the potatoes and pour into a large bowl. Add the butter and non-dairy milk to the potatoes, mash with a potato masher or fork until desired consistency and the milk and butter are mixed in well. Salt and pepper, as desired.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a 9 x 13 baking pan, pour the lentils into the bottom of the pan and use a spatula to make an even layer, covering the bottom. If the lentils still have liquid in them, use a slotted spoon or drain it beforehand. Then, just drain the cans of vegetables and layer them evenly on top of the lentils. Finally, use the mashed potatoes to cover the top layer. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops of the mashed potatoes are slightly browned. Remove from the oven, allow to cool for about 10 minutes, and chow down!
Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
- 1 medium yellow/white onion – diced
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups dried lentils
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tsp fresh thyme
- 15 oz can of green peas
- 15.25 oz can of sweet corn
- 14.5 oz can of cut carrots
- ~ 8 medium Idaho potatoes (or 10 cups, cut) – cubed
- 1 cup non-dairy milk
- 4 tbsp (1/4 cup) vegan butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat and sautee the onion for 5 minutes.
- Add in the minced garlic and sautee another 2 minutes.
- Add the broth, lentils, and thyme, and bring to a boil.
- Stir and turn heat down to medium-low, cover, and allow to simmer for 25 minutes.
- While the lentils are cooking, cut and boil the potatoes in a large pot for 12-15 minutes, or until soft. Drain them, transfer to a large mixing bowl, add butter, milk, salt and pepper; mash until desired mashed potato consistency. Set aside.
- Uncover the lentils, stir again, and allow to simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes, or until all/most of the liquid has been absorbed and the lentils are soft.
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Transfer the lentils to a 9 x 13 baking pan and cover the bottom with an even layer.
- Open the cans of vegetables and drain the liquid from them. Layer them on top of the lentils.
- On top of the vegetables, layer on the mashed potatoes
- Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Plate and ENJOY!