I Iove the idea of vegetarian sheperd’s pie as it’s an all-in-one easy and healthy meal - loaded with protein and veggies. However, until I made this version, I was the only one in my family who really enjoyed it.
I must have tried over 20 different dairy free vegetarian sheperd’s pie recipes in the last two years. While different people enjoyed different elements of those dishes, not one was an all-round crowd pleaser. So I have taken all the best bits from all of the recipes I’ve tried to make this picky eater friendly lentil sheperd’s pie.
Little Goat now loves lentil pie - or “mental pie” as he calls it, which is actually a far better name than the rather boring “picky eater sheperd’s pie” I’ve gone with here!
This is a great recipe to double up on as it freezes really well and it’s only marginally more work to double the recipe - all it requires is a bit more chopping.
Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients - most are store cupboard essentials you will probably have already.
There are a few secret ingredients in this recipe. One of the most important ingredients is oats. This may seem like an odd choice for dinner but it works - it changes the texture of the dish, giving it more bite than you would get with plain lentils, but it doesn’t change the flavour.
Picky Eater Sheperd’s Pie
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
1 courgette - washed
1 carrot - peeled
1 bell pepper (red, yellow or orange are best for picky eaters) - chopped
1 clove garlic
½ cup porridge oats
2 heaped Tablespoons sundried tomatoes in oil (about 10 or 12) - or you can also sunblush tomatoes
1 cup red lentils (200g)
1 stock cube (vegetable to make it vegan or chicken) - use a low-salt one if making for babies
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (you can replace with another tablespoon of balsamic if you want to make this vegan)
3 cups water
2 sweet potatoes
2 slices bread (slightly stale or frozen works best)
1 Tablespoon dairy free spread
Small handful fresh parsley (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (360 F)
Pierce the sweet potatoes and put them in the oven for about 45 minutes - they should be soft and starting to bubble
While the sweet potatoes are cooking, chop the onions, courgette, carrot, pepper and garlic and fry in a little oil in a deep pot (use a bit of the oil from the sundried tomatoes for frying) until the onions are translucent
Wash the lentils, then add to the pot, together with the stock cube, oats, chopped sundried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, dried parsley and water
Bring to the boil, then let simmer for 15 minutes until the water is absorbed
Put the bread in a food processor until it becomes breadcrumbs
Add the fresh parsley and process until chopped finely
Add the dairy free spread and pulse until just combined
Put the lentil mixture in a casserole dish, layer the cooked sweet potato on top, then top with the breadcrumb mix
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden and the lentil mixture is bubbling through the sweet potato
If you’re in a hurry you can cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave, but they don’t caramelise in the same way.