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Shepherd’s Pie from Vegan Under Pressure

The origin of shepherd’s pie was the shepherd using what he, or she, had around to make a dish worth eating. Since we are shepherding in a new way of eating for many people, I have gone beyond the usual commercial meat substitute used for this dish. If you want something a bit more “meaty,” try it with cut-up Beef-Style Seitan (page 213) instead of lentils. It changes the recipe quite a bit, so look at the variation below for cooking instructions. When making this with lentils, you must cook the filling in two steps because cooking lentils with tomatoes for too long tends to toughen lentils. If you want to really change things up, considering using a sweet potato or Japanese white sweet potato mash. Any way that you serve it, it’s tasty and filling, even if we aren’t outside working as hard as shepherds.
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  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/3 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced turnip or peeled sweet potato
  • 1 cup French green lentils rinsed and picked over
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or ¼ teaspoon dried
  • cups vegetable stock
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons browned rice flour or other browned flour (see Note)
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons tamari to taste
  • 1 cup diced fresh or canned tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste optional
  • 1 recipe Garlic Parsley Mashed Potatoes


  • Heat a stovetop pressure cooker over medium heat or set an electric cooker to sauté. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and dry sauté for 3 minutes. Add the turnip, lentils, thyme, bay leaf, rosemary, and stock.
  • Lock the lid on the cooker. Bring to high pressure; cook for 10 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally. Remove the lid carefully, tilting it away from you.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of the browned flour*, or 2 tablespoons if the filling seems thin, plus the Worcestershire sauce, tamari, tomatoes, and tomato paste, if using. Stir. Cook on the stove top, stirring to prevent burning; or lock the lid in place and let sit for 3 minutes. Quick release any built-up pressure.
  • Discard the bay leaf. Transfer the filling to a casserole dish or 4 or more ramekins. Top with the mashed potatoes. Run under the broiler to brown, or at least heat, the potatoes.


*Browned Flour: This simple technique allows you to flavor and thicken stews and fillings without making a traditional roux. To brown flour, add the flour to a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Let the flour sit until you smell it toasting or see the edges getting darker. When that occurs, start stirring. You will see the flour continue to darken. Stop the process when the flour smells toasty and turns brown—not quite chestnut—but don’t let it burn. Transfer immediately to a bowl. You can make more than you need. Label and refrigerate. Use within a month.
Shepherd’s Pie with Seitan: Reduce the stock to 1 cup. Add ½ batch, or 3 cups, chopped seitan instead of the lentils and cook at pressure for 3 minutes. Do a quick release. Continue with Step 3.
©2017, Reprinted with permission from Vegan Under Pressure, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt
Photo © Lauren Volo.