Vegan Italian “Shepherd’s” Pie

This ain’t your mama’s Shepherd’s Pie. Well, hold on, Fact: an actual Shepherd’s Pie is filled with lamb. Another Fact: This recipe is filled with lentils, in Fact it is also flavored with Italian spices and herbs which is (Fact) not in an actual Shepherd’s Pie. Hence the quotation marks in the recipe; hence the vegan/Italian part. Let us agree that it’s not really the name of the recipe but what is inside the recipe that counts most. Do we have a deal? I mean, if I were an Italian vegan, this is the kind of Shepherd’s Pie I would want to indulge in. Heck, I’m neither but I still want in so let us eat! (<–the truest fact of the paragraph).

Vegan Italian Shepherd's Pie - Fork & Beans

All these baked goods recipes as of late and I almost forgot how to cook. Truth of the matter is, cooking is an easier task for me than baking. I rarely follow a recipe when I cook because it’s much easier for me to throw a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and poof! Food is formed. Baking is a more methodical procedure for me. It’s almost like an architectural project: Tons of blueprints, formulas, pontifications, and finally execution.

Vegan Italian Shepherd's Pie - Fork & Beans

I can actually relax when I cook. When I bake, I’m sweating through my shirt, biting my nails while praying to gluten-free vegan gods that they hear my prayers. Ready at any moment to sacrifice my life for one beautifully-domed muffin.

Vegan Italian "Sherpherd's" Pie
Serves: 4
  • 1 c. green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. fresh thyme (or 1 tsp. dried thyme), I recommend using fresh
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ¼ c. green bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • ¼ c. red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, preferably BPA and salt-free
  • ¼ c. fresh parsley, chopped
  • ½ tsp. salt (adjust to preferences)
  • 1 18 oz. tube of premade Polenta (I got mine at Trader Joe's)
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 2 qt. dish, 8x8 dish, or 4 large (no larger than 14 oz) ramekins.
  2. Bring the lentils in the water to a boil. Simmer covered on low-medium heat for 15 minutes or until tender.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the shallot and garlic together until translucent. Add the herbs and red pepper flakes.
  4. Add the bell peppers into the mix and sauté for another minute.
  5. Toss the can of tomatoes, parsley and salt. Mix until well-combined and heated through.
  6. Place in your dish of choice (see above). Pour the cooked polenta on top of the lentil mix. You should have a nice thick layer.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until the polenta is nicely heated through.
  8. Season with salt if needed and garnish with fresh parsley.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 large ramekin Calories: 456 Fat: 4g Trans fat: 0g Carbohydrates: 75g Sugar: 3g Sodium: 300mg Fiber: 17g Protein: 17g Cholesterol: 0mg

 Thankfully this Vegan Italian “Shepherd’s” Pie recipe comes together in a quick 35 minutes and no prayers are necessary, except maybe to thank the Universe for such a tasty meal. And that my friends, is a Fact.

Vegan Italian Shepherd's Pie - Fork & Beans


Happy cooking, friends!




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  1. This looks good, and I like that the prep doesn’t take too long. I’ll have to give this one a try!

  2. At what point do we put the lentils in the pot?

  3. Shepherd’s pie, not shepherd’s pie. Either way, this looks amazing!

  4. Christi says:

    2nd batch of lentils was a success! Made this dish & entire family devoured it (no left overs *sniff sniff*). My 5 & 7 yr old said it’s their new favorite meal!!!

    • That makes me a very happy camper to hear, Christi! Glad it worked out the second round AND that the kiddos loved the meal too–Score 😉 xo

  5. Love Shepherd’s Pie! Also, I totally agree. Baking is…intense! :) Cooking is much more relaxed for me as well.

  6. Millie Kemrer says:

    Cara we love your posts/blogs and this is so funny. We went to Grass Valley, CA and they had shop with Pasties. Wasn’t sure what it was but didn’t go in to see, but surmised that it was like a pocket or shepherd’s pie. Viola, here is how to do it. Thanks. (Didn’t research pasties, but will and see what they are).

    • Hi Millie! Thank you for the good laugh–I could only imagine the look on your face when you saw a store dedicated to pasties. hehe. Much love!

  7. Thank you for posting a meal!!!! This looks divine! However, I can’t believe I’m even going to admit this…never had lentils & never cooked lentils and just burned my batch:( I poured 1 cup of lentils into 2 cups of boiling water, covered and simmered 15 min. They still seemed kind of hard so I simmered another 5 min. Since I’ve never had lentils I don’t really know what they should look and feel like but I’m pretty sure burnt isn’t the texture we’re going for. Any help would be great!!!!

    • Hi Christi :) Welcome to the new world of lentils! They are actually supposed to be a little hard and chewy (not mushy at all) and so I have a feeling they were perfect at 20 minutes simmered after they absorbed all the water. Hope this helps and better luck next time. xo

  8. I’m vegan, Italian, and have a stockpile of lentils I’m working my way through… seems like the perfect recipe for me! 😉 I can’t wait to try this!

  9. Clever girl.

  10. This looks yummy! I love lentils in the place of meat – their texture and flavor are so good! And the polenta is such a fun idea of the topping!!

  11. Cooking is so much easier for me, too! Also, there’s not a ton of mystery, no waiting to see if the cake rises correctly or if the bread is done in the middle — when cooking, what you see is kind of what you get, and you can usually fix mistakes on the fly. If your cake falls, you’re starting over.

    This looks amazing, by the way. I have a jar of lentils in the pantry waiting to be used…maybe this is the way to do that :) Thanks for sharing!

    • You understand my pain, Kate :) Sometimes it seems like it is effortless for everyone else, doesn’t it???

  12. Cool idea with the polenta! I love how easy it makes this dish!

  13. What beautiful little pies! I only made my first lentil shepherd’s pie (crustless too) recently, and absolutely loved it. We’re just getting into the cooler months now so I’ll definitely be trying this on a chilly night soon.

  14. This looks really good, once I had a chickpea pot pie and it was amazing. Beautiful pics!

    • Mmmmmm I LOVE pot pies! Perfect for those winter nights (too bad LA has had a long run of warm weather otherwise I would make them tonight!)


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