Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Lentils + Sweet Potato

When I posted a recipe for Hearty Vegan Chili two weeks ago, I had a couple of readers ask me the secret to getting my husband to eat vegetarian meals. The sad truth is that I have no secret and it can be a struggle for me, too. I think most of us are taught when we’re kids that a meal isn’t a meal without some sort of meat. Some people won’t consider eating a casserole because the protein, vegetable and starch are all mixed together. Forget passing off a salad as a meal to my Dad. We all have our food aversions and have to make dinner work for us.

In our case, Marc gets a weird reaction when eating chicken and turkey. Early on in our marriage I tried different sorts of poultry dishes to see if it was truly something he could not eat and we discovered it just doesn’t agree with him. Without those two proteins, I knew we needed to broaden our palate. Fish and vegetarian options became regular features at the dinner table.

Marc favors beef, pork (preferably ribs or bacon) and tubed meat filled with either of those meats. Replacing these preferences for meat-free dishes is a challenge. The vegetarian recipes I make for us need to have a hearty protein that replaces the meat. When we both really enjoy a vegetarian meal together, that’s when I get excited and share it with you.

If you have a husband that feels a meal isn’t a meal without meat, maybe he’ll be swayed by the health benefits and agree to it once or twice a week. If your husband is more frugal, let him know how much less your grocery bill will be when you go easy on the meat. For the environmentalist, go the planet-friendly route. If he’s a hot sauce aficionado, it tastes delicious on veggie meals, too. Be your most charming self for best results.

For this recipe, the traditional beef in Shepherd’s pie is replaced with green lentils and I added worcestershire to create a meaty flavor. It is a comforting meal to take steaming out of the oven on a chilly day and it reheats quite well for lunch. Serve with a side salad and maybe a crusty loaf of bread. See if anyone misses the meat.

16 Notes Leave a Note

    • Kickpleat – I think you’ll like those two additions. They add a little pizazz! Cannot wait to try that stew with gremolata you posted!

      Kasey – Ha, you’re going to get me in trouble 🙂

      Kate – No way! We all get on food kicks and a lentil kick sounds like fun 🙂 I really love how this Shepherd’s Pie doesn’t weigh you down the way the traditional one does. I hope you like it!

  1. I’ve never liked Shepherd’s pie because I wasn’t much of a meat eater even before I became a vegetarian, but I know I’d love this one! I’m crazy about sweet potatoes and I’m on a weird lentil kick… I’m not kidding, I ate lentils for breakfast, lunch and dinner today. That’s weird, right?

  2. This looks great. My man doesn’t like lamb, so traditional shepherd’s pie has been out but this looks like a really good alternative.

  3. I do SO love the traditional lamb shepherds pie, which I’ve even done with a sweet potato topping, but as I aim for more meatless meals, I could definitely see myself enjoying this. My stomach growls with approval.



  4. Lentils with worcestershire is a brilliant idea, Nicole! Another little trick I’ve found is to add smoked salt (preferably alderwood smoked) to vegetarian dishes to give it that smoked/grilled flavor profile. I’ve actually never enjoyed shepherd’s pie, but this has me intrigued.

    • Elizabeth – Smoked salt is a wonderful idea! I will definitely give that a go next time 🙂

      Jesica – Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy lentils this way 🙂

    • Renally – Thanks for letting me know. I’ve updated the recipe to look for anchovy-free worchestershire sauce to keep it veg-friendly. Trader Joe’s has one available.

  5. I made this and loved it! I used red lentils instead of green or French, after having bought them on a whim. It turned out great, although the texture of the cooked red lentils was different!

    • Anna – I’m glad to hear you loved it! The green or French lentils hold together better than the red, so they are worth a try if you can find them. Thanks for letting me know how it turns out with red lentils. I’ve always wondered!

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