It's that time of year again where vegans who come from omnivore families will inevitably have to answer the "where do you get your protein" question, get made fun of for eating like a rabbit, and explain that "no, you really don't miss meat". Yes it's true, the holiday season is quickly approaching.
When I first went vegan it was in the month of December, so I had just a few weeks of vegan experience before I had to face my entire family at Christmas dinner. I was confronted with all of these questions and jokes and unfortunately wasn't very informed. I desperately tried to recall facts, and bumble my way through answers. I wasn't confident and I highly doubt I was at all inspiring. Le sigh...
Fast forward three years and I am happy to say the holiday season will be amazing! Not only is my fam jam used to me being vegan, but I have since recruited awesome family members to the veggie side (hi awesome cousins!) and I have long since figured out how to answer these questions with more information and enthusiasm than any curious individual could possibly handle. Did someone say vegan!?
Whether you are lucky enough to be in a vegan family or not, we all gotta eat. Last year I posted my recipe for Puff Pastry Wrapped Lentil Loaf, which makes a spectacular main dish for the holidays. Hello gorgeous braided dough!
This year, I wanted to give you something a little easier to whip up, but no less delicious or beautiful. Welcome to my Pumpkin & Lentil Shepherd's Pie. That's right, I took Shepherd's Pie and went all fancy pants with it. The bottom layer is a hearty mix of lentils, mushrooms, carrots, and sun-dried tomatoes, and the top layer is garlic mashed pumpkin with maple syrup! Move over potatoes, pumpkin is the new kid in town.
This recipe comes together ridiculously easy and quickly. You can choose to use canned lentils and canned pumpkin so you can whip this dish up in no time, or if you are feeling like really going for it, feel free to cook the pumpkin and lentils from scratch first.
Either way this dish comes out hearty, flavourful, festive, and totally photogenic. Serve this with any combo of traditional vegan side dishes, and you will win the bellies of vegans and omnivores alike.
To make this glorious dish, chop the carrots, onions, slice the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes, and finely mince the garlic.
In a large pan sauté the onions and carrots until they start to get tender, about 5 minutes.
Add in the mushrooms and continue to cook until they have decreased in size, about another 5 minutes. Now add the sun-dried tomatoes and garlic and sauté one minute more. So colourful!
Stir in the lentils, vegetable broth, and spices and heat through.
Make the pumpkin mash by melting vegan butter in a pot, and then sauté the minced garlic for a minute until soft and fragrant. Add the mashed pumpkin, maple syrup, salt, and heat through.
Spread the lentil mixture in a casserole dish.
Top with the pumpkin mash and pop it in the oven, to heat it through.
In the meantime toast the pumpkin seeds in a small pan, by putting them over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until the pumpkin seeds brown and start to pop. When the Shepherd's pie is hot all the way through, remove from the oven, sprinkle the pumpkin seeds across the top and serve hot.
Pumpkin & Lentil Shepherd's Pie
For the lentil layer:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion,, chopped
- 2 carrots,, peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic,, minced
- 8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 19oz cans lentils (or 4 cups cooked), drained and rinsed
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes,, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
For the pumpkin layer:
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 796ml canned pumpkin purée, (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds, (also called Pepitas)
- Preheat your oven to 425F (220C).
- To make the Lentil Layer: in a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic and sauté until the onions turn translucent and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms decrease in size, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lentils, vegetable broth, sun-dried tomatoes and all the spices. Heat through until everything is hot and bubbling, about another 5 minutes.
- To make the Pumpkin Layer: melt the vegan butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute until soft and fragrant. Add the pumpkin, maple syrup and salt, stir to combine and health through.
- To assemble the Shepherd's Pie: Spread the lentil mixture on the bottom of an oven-safe casserole dish. Pour over the pumpkin mixture on top and spread evenly. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until the Shepherd's pie is heated through. Garnish with the toasted pumpkin seeds before serving.
I made this dish as plan B after wanting to make a dinner recipe (something totally different) that called for tofu, only to discover that I did not have any tofu in the fridge... Lol. I have never had savory pumpkin so was definitely curious how this was going to turn out.
I cooked lentils from scratch (used 3 different kinds for more color), and since I had a big batch of pre-sautéed and frozen mushrooms and onions, I simply thawed it out, and sautéed some carrots and garlic to go with the pre-made onion and mushroom mix. I added about a 1/2 cup of broth only, since my frozen onion and mushroom mix released some extra water.
Discovered that I did not have any maple syrup, either, so simply skipped it in the pumpkin layer. Everything went together very nicely but it turned out that I made much more than what could fit in the 9x9 baking dish, so I used a 9x13 lasagna dish. Did not feel like toasting the pumpkin seeds, so I sprinkled the raw seeds on the top of the pie and baked as directed.
I must say that while the lentil mixture had this hearty wintery dish flavor that I enjoy, the pumpkin layer was... different. However, the flavors of the pumpkin layer were literally growing on me with every single bite and by the time I polished off my plateful, I was super happy about the whole experience. Bonus, I have a ton of tasty leftovers!
This was very easy to put together (even with cooking the lentils from scratch) and next time I will make sure to add at least a bit of maple syrup to the pumpkin mix. But even without the syrup, I really liked the garlicky pops of flavor throughout the pumpkin layer.
Thank you, Sam!
Sam Turnbull says
So happy you enjoyed it, Beata!!
Hilde Broeckx says
This is the perfect dish for after a beautiful autumn walk.
Also good for a lousy autumn day 😀
Hi Sam! This looks so easy and I am definitely curious about the savory pumpkin taste. I do have a question about the lentils though. You say 4 cups cooked lentils - is that AFTER they are cooked or is that 4 cups of dry? Methinks after they are cooked, because I've made the Korean lentils already (yummy, BTW!) and 1 cup of dry lentils made a LOT in that recipe, but if I were to use dry lentils in the Shepherd's pie recipe, how much dry lentils would I need? Google says that 1 cup dry lentils equals about 2.5 cups cooked - what is your experience with this?
Also, if using dry, do I still use the 1 cup of broth when finishing up the lentil layer?
Thank you so much in advance - love your blog and your recipes are really convincing me that being vegan can be easy! I especially appreciate what you said (I think it was in one of your videos I watched) that the vegetables can and should be prepared and seasoned just like meat to make the vegan meals interesting and scrumptious. What a concept! 🙂
Sam Turnbull says
4 cups already cooked lentils. That would be about 2 cups dry. And yes, you would still add the vegetable broth. So happy you are enjoying my recipes! 🙂
Just came across your blog and everything looks great! I’m new to the vegan life and my family thinks I’m crazy, so I wanted to bring this dish to Christmas so they can taste it. I want to use an Instant Pot to use and cook the lentils, but was wondering if I should cook the lentils all the way or most of the way, because I know you’ve also got to cook the dish in the oven for a while and didn’t want them to be over cooked, if that’s even a thing.
Sam Turnbull says
Hi Tiffany, you can cook them all the way, as long as you are using brown or green lentils they shouldn't get overcooked. Enjoy!
Also, if I wanted to freeze this for later would I bake it and then freeze it or would I just assemble it then freeze and bake when ready to eat?
Very yummy, swapped the mushrooms for eggplant & served it along your onion gravy as suggested by another commenter. Thanks!
Sam Turnbull says
DK's Mama says
I used this concept and subbed in ingredients I had last night and it was -epic-. White potato spread in place of the pumpkin spread, bell pepper instead of mushrooms, canned diced tomatoes instead of sundried, water because I didn't have broth and no syrup. It was more similar to the traditional Shepherd's flavor, I guess. Thank you, thank you for the inspiration!
Sam Turnbull says
You're very welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it and were able to make it your own 🙂
This looks delicious! I'm thinking about making this sometime next week, but I'm wondering what size of dish I should use? I have an 8x8 dish, and I don't know if it will be large enough...
Can't believe I didn't include that in the post! Silly me. My dish was 9" x 9" and 2" deep. So 8 x 8 may be a little tight. Hope you enjoy the recipe!
Found a larger casserole dish and made it tonight - it was absolutely delicious! I was never a fan of traditional shepherd's pie, but this was amazing! I'll definitely be making this again. Thanks for the recipe!
Oh yay!! So happy you loved it Alyssa 🙂
Served this up at a Thanksgiving meal on Oct.12. It was sooooo yummy and super easy using canned pumpkin. I tried to be extra mindful of the amount of maple syrup since I didn't want it to taste like dessert. It's hard... maple syrup is AWESOME and I wonder if one can ever have too much! 🙂 Anyway, rave reviews from the vegans and omni's alike. I served it with your stuffing and quick onion gravy (which was SUPER SIMPLE!). Thanks for the inspiration, Sam.
Yay!!! So happy you loved it and so did your dinner guests. That sounds like a delicious dinner feast, and I agree, can you EVER have too much maple syrup? This Canadian says no. Haha
Made this dish yesterday, it formed the basis of a family dinner today. Used half a huge 'Crown Prince' squash (oven roasted) as the pumpkin part of the dish, and Puy lentils in the base. It was super-savoury (the way I like it).
Bought the squash at a pumpkin festival yesterday.
Thanks for the recipe inspiration,
That's great! So happy you loved the recipe Jim, and that you were able to make it your own. 😀
Thank you for the site - only discovered it two days ago, lots of good looking recipes to try and I like your style.
You're most welcome! So happy you are enjoying it so far 😀
Just cooked it again, these are the UK metric versions of ingredients that I've used:
1 Medium Onion
2 Medium Carrots
250g punnet of closed cup mushrooms
25g Sun-dried Tomatoes
4 Cloves of Garlic
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2x400g cans or 450g cooked lentils
250ml of vegetable stock
2 teaspoons Dried Thyme
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
½ teaspoon Salt
Pepper to Taste
500g cooked and mashed butternut squash (half a big one)
3 Cloves of Garlic
3 Tablespoons Vegan Butter
3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
½ teaspoon Salt
2 Tablespoons Pumpkin Seeds (also called Pepitas)
Thanks for sharing Jim!
Samantha Pérez says
(It's me again! jaja)
If I'm sincere, I have to admit I've never eaten pumpkin before, even in desserts. First, because pumpking isn't a ingredient we usually use in mexican food and because I never look for new recipes, but this is a great opportunity to cook a different sauce and share it with my family.
And, I'm completely agree with you about "Where do you get your protein?" question. I repeat; I'm not vegan, I'm vegetarian, but still the "curiosity" from people (sadly, most of them don't change their mind, didn't get pleased with my answer and think I'm crazy).
Oh, I love pumpkin, both savoury and sweet!
Haha, yes my family thought I was crazy too, some of them still probably do, but they don'y say so when they are devouring my dishes! Woo 'em with deliciousness. 😉
All the best! Sam.
Anne E. McGuigan says
What an interesting idea. I have only ever used pumpin to make desserts. And I love lentils. I will certainly try this. thank you!
Thank you Anne! I love pumpkin in savoury dishes! I hope you enjoy 🙂