This vegetarian shepherd’s pie recipe is a combination of winter vegetables in a red wine-style gravy, topped with a layer of mashed potatoes, and baked in the oven until golden brown.
Shepherd's pie is a hearty option for a vegetarian holiday dinner main course. The ingredients are common enough to please everyone.
This is a relatively easy dish to make. It can be assembled a day or two in advance of a large gathering, stored in the fridge, then baked just before serving.
In this recipe, I call for anti-inflammatory red wine vinegar to keep it alcohol-free. The only dairy is ghee and whole milk yogurt. Both can be substituted for vegan options.
There are a total of 8 cups of chopped raw vegetables in this recipe. Feel free to make substitutions if there are vegetables on the ingredient list that you don't like.
Consider cauliflower or frozen peas for your first choices, as well as the Brussel sprouts and rutabaga I suggest in the ingredient list.
You could also substitute kale, collard greens, or spinach for the Swiss chard.
If you wish to avoid nightshades or potatoes for any reason, consider using sweet potatoes or yams instead of the potatoes for the topping. This will make the overall dish sweeter. Or you could do half potatoes, half yams.
Traditionally, a shepherd’s pie was made with meat, such as beef or mutton, and it was known by other names, such as potato pie, cottage pie, Cumberland pie, and so on. According to Wikipedia, the earliest shepherd’s pie traces back to 1791.
Shepherd's pie can be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge. Cover the assembled casserole with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge before baking. This will allow you to bake it fresh exactly when needed.
You can also keep the prepared casserole in the freezer.
After removing from the freezer, you can defrost in the fridge overnight, or on the counter for a couple of hours.
To bake the casserole when the ingredients are cold, start it covered with aluminum foil for 15 minutes to warm up the internal temperature faster. Then remove the cover, and bake according to the recipe instructions.
When reheating leftovers in the oven, add a tablespoon of water into the tray to prevent the casserole from drying out and scorching. Leaving it uncovered is fine in this case. If you break up the potato topping a little, it will heat up faster. It should take about 15 minutes.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
For the mashed potato topping
Start the stew
- 2 tablespoons ghee, (sub with 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon olive oil)
- 1 cup onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 ½ cups button mushrooms (brown or white), chopped
- ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
Add to the stew
- 1 ½ cups carrots, chopped
- 1 ½ cups celery root (celeriac) or rutabaga, chopped
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped (stems and leaves separated)
- 2 cups broccoli or Brussel sprouts
Create the sauce
Finish the sauce
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped finely
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, (sub with 2 teaspoons dried), chopped finely
For the garnish
- 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped finely
- 1 teaspoon paprika, (optional)
Make the mashed potatoes
- Peel and chop potatoes, place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are well cooked, tender, and falling apart.
- Drain water and add yogurt, salt, and black pepper. Use a potato masher or immersion blender to mash well. Taste, and adjust for salt and pepper. Set aside until needed.
Prepare the vegetables
- Dice onions and mince garlic. Chop carrot, celery root or rutabaga, Swiss chard, and broccoli or Brussel sprouts by washing, trimming the roots, and chopping into approximately ½-inch pieces. Keep the Swiss chard stems separate from the leaves.
Start the stew
- Heat ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, mushrooms, and salt, and sauté until soft and just beginning to brown.
Add to the stew
- Add carrots, celery root or rutabaga, and Swiss chard stems, and stir. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes, until the roots are starting to soften. Just before you move to the next step, add the broccoli or Brussel sprouts and stir well.
Start the sauce
- Stir in the all-purpose flour and mix well to combine. Pour in ½ cup of the vegetable stock and stir well, then add the remainder of the stock. Add the red wine vinegar, salt, black pepper, and optional red chili or cayenne pepper powder. Add more stock if desired to thin out the sauce.
Finish the sauce
- Stir in the Swiss chard leaves. Finely chop the fresh parsley and thyme, and add them to the stew. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Taste the sauce, and adjust to your liking. Does it need more salt, more vinegar, more black pepper, or more fresh herbs?
Assemble the bake
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and get out your baking dish. It should be approximately 10x10x2 inches. You want a bit of room between the Shepherd's pie and the top of the dish so that when it bubbles in the oven it doesn't overflow. If it's too full, be sure to place a baking tray beneath the baking dish to catch the drippings.
- Transfer the stew to the baking dish and cover with the prepared mashed potatoes. Use a spoon to set small portions of the mashed potatoes over the surface of the stew, then spread them out evenly to cover. Make a design with a knife, or the tines of a fork. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and optional paprika. Bake, uncovered, until the potatoes show signs of browning and the sauce bubbles up around the edges (about 30-40 minutes).
- Optional: Turn the oven to broil and brown up the mashed potatoes layer to make it look even more enticing. Be VERY CAREFUL if you choose to do this, and watch continuously to avoid burning.