Whether you call it shepherd's pie or cottage pie, this pie is heart-warming! Intensely flavorful, this creamy potato filling is sure to put a smile on your face.
While this dish is traditionally made with meat, the lentils will be just as delicious in this recipe. This timeless classic, now veganized, will hit the mark! You'll do it again and again.
The Best Lentil Pie
Unlike Cottage Pie or Shepherd's Pie, this lentil pie doesn't have a particular name or mysterious history. However, it's profoundly tasty, and it has nothing to envy to his meat counterpart.
Especially since it's high in protein.
It's not difficult to make this dish. Of course, there are a few steps to take, but you can prepare it in several stages. In short, you make the lentils mixture, then the mashed potatoes, you assemble everything in a baking dish, and you put it in the oven.
I find the easiest way to prepare this dish is to get started in advance. So you can cook either the lentil mixture, the mashed potatoes, or the whole thing earlier.
In the third case, cover the dish and keep it in the fridge until you're ready to cook it. The taste will be just as divine.
When I tasted it, I was floored. The mashed potatoes, velvety and buttery, enveloped my tongue pleasantly, and when my teeth split the first layer, the smell of lentils streamed to my nostrils. Their meaty texture made me moan with pleasure so much that my eyes slowly grew heavy.
Fortunately, I had a bit of strength in my neck. Otherwise, I'd have been found face first in the dish's white cottony cushion.
What unspeakable and memorable comfort!
What Goes in this Vegan Cottage Pie?
- Russet potatoes - These have white flesh and are high in starches. If you can't find any, you can replace them with Yukon or yellow-fleshed potatoes.
- Lentils - They can be green or brown. As a source of protein, they will replace minced meat. Soak them the night before in salted water if you want to make them more digestible.
- Carrots - I took the usual orange carrots. But don't hesitate to use other colors for variation.
- Fresh or frozen corn kernels - You can make this dish without corn, but you would remove the dish's sweetness spikes.
- Fresh or frozen peas - You can also make a cottage pie without peas. But it's worth keeping them to boost your protein intake.
Shortcut! You can buy a bag of frozen mixed vegetables to speed up your preparation. However, you won't have the delicious concentrated taste of the sautéed carrots.
- Oat flour - Normally, flour is used to thicken the sauce that results from the meat preparation. However, in our case, we'll do it to tighten and slightly thicken the softened lentils from the previous cooking. You can get it by just grinding oat flakes in a spice mill. For a gluten-free recipe, select a product without it. If you don't have any, we'll follow the original recipe and use all-purpose flour.
- Concentrated vegetable broth - This will give a depth of flavor and amplify the umami of the lentils. Choose it in liquid form, powder (put 1 teaspoon of powder in a cup of water), or cubes (put 1 cube in 1 cup of water).
- Plant-based half-and-half - Usually, this ingredient is made from whole milk and cream in equal proportions, hence its name. To make it vegan, we'll simply mix coconut cream and plant-based milk.
Here, I opted for cashew milk for its high-fat content, which increases the mash's creaminess. If you prefer convenience, you can get a store-bought product. However, keep in mind that if it contains almonds, it will carry that taste to the potatoes.
- Soy Lecithin - In the traditional dish, we put an egg yolk to produce a very creamy consistency. I thought about replacing it with soy lecithin. Thick and golden, this liquid consists of phospholipids extracted from soybean oil.
It's used to emulsify or homogenize the fats and recreate the same result as the egg yolk (usually 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of the volume). As the heading indicates, this ingredient is completely optional. The mashed potatoes will also be creamy without (but a little less).
- Red onion - This variety of onions gives more flavor, and its red color indicates its richness in nutrients, hence my favorite onion.
- Garlic - It will enhance the taste of the lentils.
- Tomato Paste - This ingredient adds a bit of acidity and another dimension of umami.
- Vegan Worcestershire Sauce - This condiment brings umami. To my surprise, I found a vegan version at the local grocery store, i.e., without anchovies. This is essentially composed of various acidic sauces with soy sauce, molasses, agave nectar, and a mix of spices.
- Herbs - Rosemary and thyme are fresh.
- Salt and pepper - I used kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
How to Make this Lentil Pie Step by Step
Don't be intimidated by the ingredients. Like I said earlier, you can get started in advance. You can cook the lentil mixture one day, then the mashed potatoes another day. There's also the plant-based cream called half-and-half, which you can also prepare earlier if you want to make it from scratch rather than get the store-bought product.
Of course, it's possible to cook everything on the same day. You just need to be well organized and prepare for the downtime. When you're ready, assemble everything in a baking dish and put it in the oven.
This recipe begins by simultaneously cooking the lentils and the previously diced potatoes ②. Once the two ingredients are cooked, I filter the water. I put the lentils aside and take care of the potatoes, that I mash ③ and I wet with the butter and cream, the seasonings, and optionally the soy lecithin ④.
I then move on to my vegetables, that I sauté in a skillet ⑤. I combine the lentils, seasonings, and flour ⑥ and continue with the tomato paste, broth, Worcestershire sauce, and fresh herbs ⑦. I finish with the corn kernels and the peas.
Finally, I transfer the lentil mixture to a baking dish, cover it with the garnish, and put the dish in the oven ⑧.
The Keys to Success: My Top Tips
Cool the lentil filling before covering it with the potato: it thickens, makes it easier to spread the mash on top, and prevents it from flowing into it.
Make sure you have very creamy mashed potatoes: a very firm, dry mash is not really pleasant. When the puree is smooth, it's easier to spread and gives a better palatable experience. When you break up the mash, you want it to collapse rather than cut it cleanly like a cake.
Choose the right baking dish: the size of it will determine the thickness of the fillings. It's recommended to take a baking dish measuring 11 in x 7 in (or 27.94 x 17.78 cm) for this recipe. You can probably exceed these dimensions by 1 in (2 cm), but not more than that.
Don't cook your dish too early: I find it best to cook it within 3 days of preparation.
When you're ready to cook it, take it out of the fridge for about 20 minutes before cooking to let it come to room temperature. Uncover it and bake it.
There are several variations of this comforting dish. Prepare :
- A lentil shepherd's pie, spreading puréed corn on the lentils layer;
- A lentil Hachis Parmentier (French take), removing the vegetables from the lentils, replacing the tomato paste with fresh tomatoes, and sprinkling grated vegan cheese on top.
Serve this Recipe with
When it comes to choosing sides, try roasted carrots or maybe sautéed garlic spinach. Afterward, enjoy your dish with a good glass of red wine in a warm place.
Answers to Your Burning Questions
In short, it's a dish of British origin consisting of a meat pie with a mashed potatoes crust.
First of all, the name Cottage Pie was first used at the end of the 18th century. Around this time, Britain's poorest people—those who lived in country cottages—began to use potatoes as their daily food.
Basically, a pie made with any kind of meat and mashed potatoes is called Cottage Pie.
But if it's made with lamb, it's usually called Shepherd's Pie (because a shepherd takes care of the sheep).
Homemade cottage pie certainly is. And the vegan version will be too, if not more. While most Cottage/Shepherd's Pie recipes contain quite a bit of saturated fat from animal sources (cream, butter, meat), this recipe has very little.
Here, the fats come from whole plant-based sources, such as cashews and coconut. Plus, many recipes add white flour to potatoes, while oat flour substitutes for it, making it gluten-free.
Finally, it contains lentils, which can help lower cholesterol and are particularly useful in managing blood sugar disorders. Their high fiber content prevents blood sugar from rising quickly after a meal.
They also provide good to excellent amounts of seven essential minerals—our B vitamins and protein, all without virtually any fat. The calorie value of all that nutrition? Only 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils. This tiny nutrition giant has you covered.
Make this Lentil Pie Now
When you crave classic comfort food that's tasty and meaty, cook a lentil pie reminiscent of cottage pie or shepherd's pie.
Hearty, this tourte is an excellent recipe to stock up on vegetables.
The preparation has several steps, but don't be intimidated by it. In reality, you only have four to six to go through: cooking the lentils and the potatoes (simultaneous or separate; that's two steps), their respective mixing (that's two), the assembly (ridiculously simple), and baking (here you can start sipping your glass of wine).
You'll see, even with lentils, nothing else can dethrone this dish.
It'll stay at the top of the most comforting dishes there is.
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Lentil Cottage Pie
For the potatoes:
- 2 pounds Russet potatoes (about 900 g) (Notes)
- ¼ cup plant-based half-and-half (Notes)
- 2 ounces vegan unsalted butter (about ¼ cup)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 1 teaspoon soy lecithin (Optional)
For the filling
- 1 ½ cup lentils
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup red onion chopped
- 2 carrots peeled and diced (Notes)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- 2 tablespoons oat flour or all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 cup vegetable broth concentrate (Notes)
- 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons rosemary leaves fresh, chopped
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves fresh, chopped
- ½ cup corn kernels fresh or frozen
- ½ cup peas fresh or frozen
- Cook the lentils in a pot of salted boiling water (they should be covered with 1 ¼ inch / 3 cm of water) 20 to 30 min, or until tender. Drain the lentils in a colander and set aside.
- Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and dice them about ½ inch (7 mm). Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Put on high heat, cover, and bring to a boil. When boiled, uncover, reduce heat to maintain a boil, and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Place half-and-half and butter in a small saucepan or microwave-safe container and heat until heated through, about 1 min on the stovetop or 35 seconds in the microwave. Drain the potatoes in a colander and return them to the pot. Mash the potatoes, then add the half-and-half, butter, salt, and pepper and continue mashing until smooth. Optionally stir in soy lecithin until well combined.
- Preheat the oven to 400 ° F/200 ° C.
- Prepare the filling. Place olive oil in a 12-in (30 cm) sauté pan and set over medium-high heat. Once the oil is sparkling, add the onion and carrots and sauté until they begin to take color, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lentils, a pinch of salt, and black pepper and cook for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the lentils with flour and toss to coat evenly, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, vegetable broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 5 to 6 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly.
- Add the corn and peas to the lentil mixture and divide evenly in an 11 x 7-inch (27.94 x 17.78 cm) glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting at the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place a sprig of rosemary on top. Place on a half baking sheet lined with parchment paper on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown. Let sit on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.
- Kept in an airtight container, this pie will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator and can be frozen.
- Lentils: if you do decide to soak the lentils in salted water the day before, do not add salt to the boiling water.
- Vegetables: you could put 4 cups of mixed frozen vegetables, including corn and peas to save time.
- Vegetable Broth Concentrate: Take it in liquid form, powder (put 1 teaspoon of powder in a cup of water), or in cubes (put 1 cube in 1 cup of water).
- Cool the lentil filling before covering it with the potato: it thickens, makes it easier to spread the mash on top, and prevents it from flowing into it;
- Ensure you have very creamy mashed potatoes: a very firm, dry mash is not really pleasant. When the puree is smooth, it is easier to spread and gives a better taste experience. When you break the mash, you want it to collapse to the limit, rather than being able to cut it cleanly like a cake.
- Don't cook your dish too early: I find it best to cook it within 3 days of preparation. When you're ready to cook it, take it out of the fridge for about 20 minutes before cooking to let it come to room temperature. Uncover it and bake it.
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