Vegan sweet potato lentil shepherd’s pie is the perfect hearty and wholesome main dish for your holiday table. It’s an untraditional version of the classic dish, made with layers of herbed lentils and pillowy mashed sweet potatoes.
I’m very partial to shepherd’s pie.
I think it dates back to childhood. My mom is a great fan of shepherd’s pie. It was her meal of choice for wintery special occasions.
I inherited her love for the dish. But the meaty shepherd’s pie that we ate when I was little is very different from the sweet potato lentil shepherd’s pie that I’m sharing today!
The major difference, of course, is that this is a totally meatless spin on the classic recipe.
In place of meat, I use a hearty filling of lentils and mushrooms. They’re simmered with onions, garlic, rosemary, and thyme. The mushrooms give this dish umami, which helps to keep it as satisfying as the original.
In place of traditional mashed potatoes, I include a mashed sweet potato topping that’s buttery and rich in spite of being entirely dairy free.
For me, the potato layer of shepherd’s pie is what makes the dish. So you’ll see that there’s a pretty even ratio of lentils to potato here. The potato may even be predominant, which contributes to the recipe’s comfort food power!
As with many holiday dishes, this one requires a little bit of time and prep work.
I highly recommend spreading the process out over two days, if you can. Prepare the potatoes and cook the lentils on Day 1. Keep both in the fridge overnight.
On Day 2, create the pie filling by sautéing the lentils with onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and herbs. Then, pour this mixture it into your prepared baking sheet. Cover it with the pre-made mashed sweet potatoes. You’ll be ready to go.
Prepared this way, the dish is actually very manageable. And if you do have to whip it all up in a single day, no worries. It’s a bit of a kitchen project, but each of the steps is straightforward!
In addition to being delicious and satisfying, sweet potato lentil shepherd’s pie is also super wholesome.
It boasts a ton of plant protein from the lentils and mushrooms, which most definitely makes it a Power Plate.
The sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, which may help to support eye health. The mushrooms are packed with phytonutrients that may prove protective against chronic disease, including cancer.
There are onions, carrots, and celery here, so the meal is packed with vegetables as well as legumes and healthful starch. Altogether, it’s an especially nutritious meal. Those aren’t standard during the holiday season—and they’re not always as tasty as this one!
There’s nothing more valuable than a holiday recipe that can be made ahead of time. Sweet potato lentil shepherd’s pie is most definitely one of them.
The cooked lentils, mashed potatoes, and/or the fully prepared lentil and vegetable filling can all be made one or a couple days ahead. The baked casserole can be prepared up to two days in advance and stored in the fridge.
And if you’re wondering about freezing, yes: the entire pie (or squares of it) can be frozen for up to six weeks.
I definitely think of this sweet potato lentil shepherd’s pie as being a holiday main dish. It’s even more of a feast when served with a good side dish or two.
For example, the pie goes beautifully with a good salad. My Brussels sprout kale salad, maple mustard quinoa salad, and cauliflower kale pomegranate salads are all great options. If you’d like to think outside of the conventional holiday recipe box, try it with a delicious crispy broccoli Caesar!
Soup is a nice accompaniment to the sweet potato lentil shepherd’s pie. I’d keep it simple, since the pie is so substantial. My super simple, very green soup and broccoli quinoa soup are nice options.
Alternatively, Brussels sprout hash (with coconut bacon!) is a lovely, warm accompaniment. And if you’d like to pair the pie with a traditional Thanksgiving side, you can try serving it with green bean casserole.
Hope this colorful, feel-good entrée will find its way to your holiday table sometime. And I hope you’ll love it as much as I do. It’s become a little November and December tradition for me, and I think it’ll be that way for a long time.