Vegan shepherd pie is probably the best dish for winter and incredibly healthy comfort food. What I love about it is that it's super versatile. You can adjust the ingredients to make it spicier, blander, or replace some of the ingredients altogether to create versions of vegan shepherd's pie.
On this recipe, I wanted to showcase a healthy vegan shepherd pie made with sweet potato instead of standard potato. It also tastes a lot better in my opinion.
Back in England, we used to eat so much shepherd pie but that was before we went vegan. In all honesty, we didn't think we'll ever get back to eating it as I couldn't imagine it without the cheese layer on top. But the thing is, the more time passes without cheese, the less you are inclined to eat it. So much so that we rarely eat vegan cheese. The high-fat content and the fact that it's processed food puts us off. The first time we made vegan shepherd pie it was with vegan cheese on top. And let me tell you, it was a lot of it! Like, probably a layer as thick as the mashed potato, this is how much I missed cheese back then.
But as time passed, we stopped adding vegan cheese to our vegan shepherd pie. Just the base made of lentil and mushroom and creamy mash on top. As I said, it's a versatile dish, though. And it's very easy to make. You don't have to measure everything precisely, there is room to add more lentil, more mushroom, different mushroom. You can do it with green or red lentils. Oyster mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms, pick your favourite. Missing cheese? No worries, just grate some on top of the mash before baking it in the oven.
Why Sweet potato mash
The first time I made vegan shepherd pie with sweet potato my husband asked why I replaced the normal potato with the sweet ones. Well, good question.
There is so much difference between the two potatoes. Sweet potatoes are from the morning glory family, and white potatoes are nightshades. Both of them are root vegetables.
People believe that sweet potatoes are healthier than white potatoes, but they are both super nutritious, just in different ways. Both have similar calories, proteins and carbs but white potatoes also have more potassium. On the other hand, sweet potato has a looot more vitamin A.
So my stance? Eat both! Don't replace the white potato with sweet potato or vice versa. Enjoy a sweet potato vegan shepherd's pie today and maybe look to have some baked potatoes with millet patties tomorrow.
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How to make vegan shepherds pie
At first glance, vegan shepherds pie might seem tedious to make. It's not. In fact, it's super easy as it consists of layers of goodness. For our vegan shepherd's pie you need two layers (or three if you really want grated vegan cheese on top): the lentil base and the mashed potato.
Start by cooking the lentil according to pack instructions. We usually cook red lentils for 7 minutes in vegetable broth. This gives the lentils a better taste without us having to add salt to the water.
In a frying pan heat up some olive oil and fry the chopped onion until translucent. Then add the chopped mushrooms of your choice and fry until the mushrooms blacken. I remember someone told me once that your mushrooms are cooked when they are as dark as the earth they come from. I thought that's a good one.
You can add salt, pepper and the thyme. Feel free to get creative with your spices here. You can add a pinch of smoked salt if you prefer. We use a tablespoon of liquid smoke so the lentils and mushrooms have a deeper flavour. Next, add the cooked lentil to the pan and fold all ingredients gently. You basically don't want the lentils to break and create a mushy mixture. Try to keep them as intact and full as possible. Move to a baking tray and with a wooden spoon flatten the layer.
Preheat the oven to 180C - 350F.
To make the sweet potato mash, peel the potatoes, cut them into small cubes and boil them in salty water for about 15-20 minutes. Add oat milk, salt, olive oil and a little paprika and mash with a potato masher. Feel free to add more milk or olive oil if you like the mash creamier.
Add the sweet potato mash on top of the lentil-mushroom mixture. If using, grate vegan cheese on top and bake it in the oven for 25 minutes.
That's it! Easy peasy and your exquisite vegan shepherd's pie is ready. It's ideal for cold days when you want to cuddle up on the sofa and eat something warm, hearty but super healthy. Ready to try the recipe? Let me know how it goes in the comments section below.
This recipe has been developed entirely by Yuzu Bakes. Any resemblance with other recipes is purely coincidental.