I will be completely upfront about this one: it’s not the simplest recipe. I used a bunch of different spices and it does take a while to cook. However, this is an extremely flexible recipe (when in doubt, just throw in a spice you like and add salt!) and it really feels like you’re spoiling yourself when you first slice into the cooled pie.
Think of this recipe as a basic outline. Use whatever soup, broth, root vegetables, etc. you have on hand to make the lentil filling the consistency you prefer. The second time I made it, I had a bunch of leftover roasted pumpkin and sweet potato soup, so I mixed that in with the lentils and mashed the filling with a fork before baking everything together. You can always add in a cup of pureed pumpkin or a canned soup that has a rich, savory fall flavor to mix with your lentils after they have stewed for a while. It is also a rather flexible recipe. Turnips, beets, and celeriac would all make wonderful additions if they are available to you. If you want a meatier texture, add some soy crumbles in with the mushrooms in the dutch oven and brown them.
The main depth of flavor will come from the red wine and fresh herbs, and when the mashed potatoes mix in the oven with the lentil filling, they will create a really wonderful combination. In this version of the recipe, I roasted thin slices of sweet potato with olive oil and some salt and pepper and pressed them into the bottom of my glass baking dish. The slight sweetness was a wonderful complement to the anise and cinnamon, but a tiny bit of brown sugar, maple syrup, or honey could easily do the trick. If you would like an extra rich flavor, put a thin layer of techina (tahini) on top of the lentils before adding the mashed potatoes.
Vegan Curry Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
- cooking oil
- 1 white/yellow onion, chopped fine
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 c chopped mushrooms
- 3 tbs tomato paste
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 c dried brown lentils
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 1-2 tsp yellow curry powder
- 2 star anise
- 1/4” stick of cinnamon
- fresh basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary
- chopped green onion
- nutritional yeast
- salt and pepper
- techina (tahini)
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced thin
For the mashed potatoes
- 4 large potatoes, peeled (or not) and cubed
- 2-3 tsp chopped green onion
- 1/4 c vegan butter (or regular butter)
- salt and pepper to taste
Start with two tablespoons of cooking oil in a medium pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, carrots, and celery, and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic, fresh herbs, and all the spices, and cook for 3-5 more minutes, stirring regularly. Add the tomato paste, soy sauce, and red wine. Stir again and bring to a boil.
Add the lentils and vegetable broth, bring back to a boil, and then lower to a simmer. Cover the pot and let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time until the lentils are tender. Once they can be easily smashed with the back of a spoon and most of the water has evaporated, remove the star anise and cinnamon and check the consistency. This is when you would add your soup or canned pumpkin puree or honey, etc., if desired. You can puree the filling or leave it chunky.
Press the sweet potatoes into the bottom of a round, oven-safe dish. Spoon in the lentils filling, topping with tahini. Carefully spread the mashed potatoes over the top and even them out. Cook at 375 F until lightly browned on top, 20-30 minutes. Let it sit at room temperature, uncovered, for at least 15 minutes before serving.