Shepherdless pie

A vegan twist on the classic shepherd's pie made with lentils, mushrooms and a polenta topping. It's just as hearty as the original and oh-so tasty!

  • 1 hr preparation
  • Serves 4
  • Print


  • 1 cup (200g) French-style green lentils
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (150g), chopped coarsely
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 medium carrot (120g), chopped coarsely
  • 200 g swiss brown mushrooms, halved
  • 400 g grape tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup (250ml) vegetable stock
  • 60 g baby spinach
  • fresh thyme leaves, to serve
  • polenta topping
  • 1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
  • 1 cup (170g) polenta (cornmeal)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes (see tips)


  • 1
    Cook lentils in a medium saucepan of boiling water for 12 minutes or until just tender; drain.
  • 2
    Meanwhile, heat oil in a large deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook onion, garlic and seeds, stirring, for 5 minutes or until onion is soft. Add carrot, mushrooms and tomatoes; cook, covered, for 10 minutes or until carrot softens. Stir in paste; cook for 1 minute. Add stock; bring to the boil. Cook for 3 minutes or until thickened slightly. Stir in lentils and spinach; season. Cover to keep warm.
  • 3
    Make polenta topping.
  • 4
    Preheat grill (broiler) on high. Place lentil mixture in a 2-litre (8-cup) ovenproof dish; spread with polenta topping. Grill for 15 minutes or until golden and crisp.
  • 5
    Season; serve topped with thyme.
Polenta topping
  • 6
    Bring stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Gradually add polenta and thyme to stock, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until polenta thickens. Stir in oil and yeast flakes; season to taste.


French-style green lentils, related to the famous French lentils du puy, have a nutty, earthy flavour and a hardy nature that allows them to be rapidly cooked without disintegrating. Nutritional yeast flakes are available at health food stores.

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