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Shepherdess Pie with Lentils

Shepherdess pie or shepherdless pie is a vegetarian shepherds pie, mine has a glorious red lentil & fennel ragu under a crispy mashed potato lid.

Close up portrait image of a spoon full of vegetarian shepherds pie or shepherdess pie being taken from a whole pie

What is a Shepherdless Pie?

I often mock our need to assert control over what dishes are called and what they contain.

It is amusing and often quite daft. However, I am equally susceptible to these urges on occasions.

That occasion is shepherds pie, cottage pie, Cumberland pie, and this vegetarian lentil pie.

I feel myself getting all sorts of peeved and occasionally even tut out loud when these names are inappropriately used. Raging I tell ya, raging lol!

Shepherds pie contains lamb, cottage pie contains beef, Cumberland pie contains either meat but has a cheese and breadcrumb topping on top of the mash.

The latter used to be a game pie but the name seems to have been hijacked in some time during the 20th century.

Then we have this barnstormer of an offering that is occasionally named shepherdless pie which makes me giggle.

It is a relative newbie to the stable of ultimate British comfort food recipes. But it is essentially a meatless version of the shepherd’s pie.

Portrait overhead image of a vegetarian shepherds pie or shepherdess pie served in a white gratin dish

Ingredient Advice.

This vegetarian shepherdess pie needs a stonkingly good mashed potato topping.

That needs you to choose the right potatoes, something floury or mealy like King Edwards, Maris Piper, Russet or Idaho.

Then you need to add a not inconsiderably amount of butter at them. I go for nigh on 20% of the weight of potatoes in this recipe.

You need not pipe them on, I like to do this as it increases the surface area. That means more ridges, more ridges means more crispy bits and the crispy bits are the best bits!

Aside from that the other ingredients are pretty self explanatory.

I use red lentils for this recipe but you could easily swap them out for green or brown lentils in much the same way as you can in my lentil bolognese.

Portrait image of individual vegetarian shepherds pies or shepherdess pies served in white gratin dishes

Making In A Single Baking Dish

This recipe makes two individual pies.

I use two gratin dishes that are 15cm by 10cm by 3cm deep, they hold around 450ml of water. For my American readers that is 6″ by 4″ by 1.5″ which is a capacity of just under 2 cups.

You can cook this in a single baking dish if you like, although I would try not to increase the depth too much.

You could use a 25cm by 15cm dish (8″ x 10″) of the same depth to get the same ratio of filling to mash.

If you wanted to go round you could use either a 20cm (8″) diameter dish that is 3cm (just under 1.25″) deep or a 15cm (6″) dish that is 4cm (just over 1.5″) deep.

Close up square image of a spoon full of vegetarian shepherds pie or shepherdess pie being taken from a whole pie
Yield: 2 Servings

Vegetarian Shepherdess Pie Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes

A shepherdess pie is a meatless shepherd pie, mine uses red lentils and sweet anise flavoured fennel under the perfect mashed potato topping and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.


  • 175 g (1 Cup) Red Lentils
  • 75 g (1/2 Cup) Onion
  • 75 g (1/2 Cup) Celery
  • 75 g (1/2 Cup) Carrot
  • 150 g (1 Cup) Fennel
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 50 g (1/4-1/3 Cup) Sun-Dried Tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Oil From Sun-Dried Tomato Jar
  • 250 ml (1 Cup) Red Wine
  • 1 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 250 ml (1 Cup) Vegetable Stock
  • 150g (1 Cup) Frozen Peas
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 400 g Potatoes
  • 75 g (2/3 Stick) Butter
  • 25 g (1/4-1/3 Cup) Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste


  1. Chop the onion, carrot, and celery into a 2-3mm dice.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat.
  3. When hot add the diced vegetables and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  4. Mash the garlic.
  5. Slice the sun dried tomatoes into ribbons as finely as you can.
  6. Cut the fennel into 1cm cubes.
  7. Add the fennel, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and tomato puree to the pan and then stir well.
  8. Turn the heat up to high and pour in the red wine and add a generous seasoning of salt and pepper before cooking to reduce for 5 minutes.
  9. Reduce the heat to low, add the bay leaf, vegetable stock, and lentils then simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally.
  10. Whilst the ragu is cooking bring a large pan of water to a rapid boil.
  11. Peel and cut the potatoes into a 5cm-7.5cm (2-3") cubes
  12. Season generously with salt and then throw in the potatoes.
  13. Boil until tender to the tip of a knife.
  14. Defrost the peas by running under cold water.
  15. Mash or pass the potatoes through a potato ricer and then mix through the butter and set aside.
  16. When the ragu is cooked stir through the defrosted peas, then separate into two 15 x 10cm (6 x 4") gratin dishes.
  17. Pipe over or spoon over the mashed potato and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.
  18. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 200°C or 400°F.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 926Total Fat: 43gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 1468mgCarbohydrates: 98gFiber: 20gSugar: 23gProtein: 24g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!


Tuesday 28th of June 2022

Good to see someone else who understands that the names of these pies is important.

If I go into a restaurant and order a Shepherd's Pie, I damn well expect it to have lamb in it.

Brian Jones

Monday 11th of July 2022

It is definitely a bit irrational and daft but it is the food hill that I am prepared to die on... well maybe not die, but certainly whinge endlessly on ;)

Sue R

Monday 21st of December 2020

I'll give this a try after a week of doing close to zero at the beach in our caravan so I can recover from Christmas. I do like lentils. Not sure the meat eating guys here will complain or not but eh I'm cooking!

Brian Jones

Wednesday 30th of December 2020

lol, chefs choices, if they want someone to cook owt else they should do it themselves, enjoy :D

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