Today is all about comfort. Again. Are you catching on here? It’s all. about. comfort.
For so many reasons. The most obvious one being: it’s December. And it’s cold AF here in Minnesota. Second: the holidays are here. Third: today was the last day of school/teaching/work until 2018 and that is EVERYTHING.
It’s been a crazy week already (and yes, I’ve only successfully made it through Monday as of now). Any of you fellow teachers out there can probably relate… or you moms… or those of you who work with little humans… or really any of you humans going to work in general.
Don’t we all just want to be cozied up at home this time of year, with candles, and Christmas lights, and ELF!? And now this Healthy Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie for a soul-warming vegetarian dinner.
While comfort is high on my priority list these days, so is balance. I try to live a balanced life, even though that’s SUPER DUPER hard sometimes. Ya feel me?
So before the holidays are in full swing, and I head into the weekend of final cookie preparations, I’m workin’ on that balance thing.
Shepherd’s Pie IS comfort – it’s full of flavor, a tiny kick of spice, creamy potatoes, and loads of texture. I know you might be asking yourself – or me – what is Shepherd’s Pie without meat?
It’s just as amazingly delicious, if not more, than your meat-filled Shepherd’s Pie. 90% of the time I don’t eat meat.
Quite frankly, I would just rather not have it in most things. For example, Shepherd’s Pie – I’d much rather just not have meat *shrugs shoulders*.
Whether you’re 100% vegetarian, eat meat all the time, or are a mostly-vegetarian, this healthier Shepherd’s Pie will satisfy all your comfort food needs!
What makes it healthier?!
On that healthier note… there aren’t potatoes in this one! I’m a potatoes girl through and through, and you could still go ahead and use potatoes if you just HAVE to have them with Shepherd’s Pie. Lemme tell you though… you won’t even know the difference with this cauliflower mash! And your body will thank you.
Cauliflower is blended with a tiny bit of butter, milk, and plain yogurt (creaminess without too much of the nonsense). The texture is just like mashed potatoes, and you can hardly tell a difference in the flavor. Especially when they’re spread on top of your veggie-lentil-flavor-packed filling.
If you’re completely vegan – feel free to substitute a dairy-free yogurt and milk, and olive oil in place of the butter.
Ok – and here’s a little balance/indulgence secret: I put a little parmesan cheese in the cauliflower mash. YES, I HAD TO, OK?!
You don’t have to though if you really want to be sure you’re on the healthy train. But for me, a little parm = a lotta comfort, so the tradeoff is worth it. Moving on…
All the vegetables!
I’ve hinted to the number of veggies in here, but we’ve hit a whole new level…
…cooked together with garlic, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, thyme, oregano, and a pinch of cayenne for heat!
Mix in your cooked lentils and you have a protein, fiber, nutritious, veggie-tastic meal!
I’ll leave you here, ready to go make a healthy, guilt-free, satisfying dinner!
Healthy Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
- 1 cup dried lentils, cooked
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 cup celery, diced (~2-3 stalks)
- 1 cup carrots, diced (~2-3 medium-large carrots)
- 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 Tablespoons red wine or vegetable stock
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 Tablespoon Worcestershire, vegetarian version!
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- 1 cup frozen pearl onions
- 1 small head cauliflower, 4-5 cups, chopped
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
- Prepare lentils according to package directions (generally 1 cup dried lentils to 3 cups liquid – I like to use vegetable stock and add a little extra salt!). Set aside once cooked and drained.
- In a large stock pot, add cauliflower and water to top. Bring to a boil and cook for 4-5 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
- In a cast iron skillet (or other oven-safe skillet), melt butter over medium heat. Add celery and carrots, cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cooke for 2-3 minutes. Add in wine/stock to deglaze pan. Stir in tomato paste, Worcestershire, parsley, oregano, thyme, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in frozen peas, corn, and pearl onions. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add drained lentils, stir to combine.
- Add yogurt, milk, and butter to cauliflower. Using an immersion blender (or blender, or food processor to blend together until no lumps remain. Stir in parmesan. Add salt to taste.
- Spread cauliflower mash on top of vegetable mix in the oven-safe skillet. Use the back of a spoon to add any desired designs. Bake for 30-35 minutes until bubbly and golden brown. Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes if you want the top darker.
- If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, use another oven-safe pan, or transfer to a casserole dish.
- You may need to add a little extra liquid to your cauliflower mash, depending on the size of the cauliflower you use. You want it to be moist, as it will dry out a bit during the baking process.
- *Look for cheese specifically labeled vegetarian, if needed.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided for this recipe is only an estimate. The accuracy of the facts listed is not and cannot be guaranteed.
This looks sooooo good! Being a vegetarian, I totally appreciate this meat-free version 🙂 And omg, I never would’ve guessed in a million years that was mashed cauliflower on top, that’s so genius! And I don’t blame you for adding in parmesan, everything is better with a little (or a lot of) parmesan 😉
Also YES to ELF!!
Thanks, Shannon! 🙂 Couldn’t agree with you more on the parmesan, it’s a MUST!
Gahhh this is my kind of dinner! Love the mashed cauliflower on top— such a great, healthy substitute!
Couldn’t agree more, Liz! Thank you! 🙂
It can be so hard to find vegetarian substitutes for (typically) meat-based dishes. This is such a hearty, tasty recipe — even my meat-eating family members prefer this version over the meat version. The best part? I don’t feel guilty after devouring it!
YAY! I love hearing that! Thanks so much, Anna!