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Ready in 1 hour, 40 minutes
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March can be the cruelest of months. It can be so warm and sunny and gloriously beautiful that you want to pack away all your sweaters and boots and scarves and hats and just run your toes through the newly green grass while sipping mojitos.
And then the next day, it’s so bone-chillingly cold and rainy (or even snowy) that you can’t imagine ever being warm again. Oh Mother Nature, why are you such a tease?
After weeks of warmth and sunshine, right now, the weather in my area is doing a bit of a regression back to December (hellloooo, gray and rainy and cold Southern Indiana winters), and that means I’m back in the kitchen focusing on comfort food.
I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point in our collective food history, the idea of “comfort food” became synonymous with “unhealthy food.” I’m sure it has something to do with the butter and cheese and heavy cream and sugar and all that goodness that most people associate with comforting eats. But I’m here to tell you, comfort food can be totally, completely, 100% healthy (and not just the emotional, “I really need this chocolate chip cookie today” kind of healthy—like, literally healthy—nourishing, even).
This Sweet Potato Lentil Shepherd’s Pie is healthy comfort food epitomized. It’s 100% whole food, plant-based—seriously, it’s nothing but plants—but it’s so hearty, so filling, so soul-warmingly awesome that you’ll never miss the butter or cream or meat. This is the dish I serve to people who are healthy eating skeptics. Because it’s somehow both totally satisfying and totally health food.
The key to getting this not-so-classic twist on a classic casserole to taste so rich is my current favorite ingredient—raw cashews. I’ve been ordering raw organic cashews by the case lately because I use them in everything. I have a whole post coming up next week about it, but this Lentil `Shepherd’s Pie is a good little preview to wet your whistle.
Raw cashews are fatty, oily, and just a tiny bit nutty, but mostly mildly-flavored. And when soaked in water (either overnight or a quick soak with boiling water), they can be blended into the dreamiest, creamiest of plant-based sauces. It’s like a gosh darn Mother Nature miracle. Here, I mix cashew cream with mashed sweet potatoes to make a seriously rich and fluffy topping for this lentil-based casserole.
I can’t claim credit for the original idea to do a Lentil Shepherd’s Pie. I first saw Ashley from The Edible Perspective do it ages ago, and her recipe is wonderful (really wonderful) – I’ve been making it and tweaking it into my own version ever since.
I know some folks out there aren’t the biggest fans of lentils (hi, Dad!), but I think you’ll come to the lentil side of life if you try them in this dish. The lentils are packed with so much flavor and they have just the right texture to feel meaty and hearty in the filling.
And hey, mushroom haters, I know you see mushrooms in the filling down in the recipe and are immediately dismissing them, but trust me on this one—you want those mushrooms in there to give the filling a savory, earthy flavor that can be sometimes hard to replicate using only plants. I have you dice the mushrooms really finely, so if your issue with mushrooms is textural, you won’t even notice they are there.
Lentil Shepherd’s Pie is one of those dishes that you don’t really need a side dish to go along with —talk about the original one pot wonder. But if you do want to serve up some sides, my favorite way to serve this dish is with a nice garden salad and the biggest basket of warm Irish soda bread around. And probably a dark beer. Maybe winter still being around isn’t so bad. Enjoy!
5 from 1 reviews
Sweet Potato Lentil Shepherd’s Pie is healthy comfort food epitomized, and the ultimate one pot wonder.
If you don’t have a Dutch oven, prep the filling in a large stockpot, and then pour it into a 9″ x 13″ casserole pan. Top with the sweet potato topping and almonds, and bake as directed.
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Yuck! Hoping for something better next week. :)
Every recipe can’t appeal to everyone! As always, some people will love this, and others will take a pass – sounds like you’re in the latter category!
What a gracious response to a rude comment, Julie. I’m not sure I could have been this friendly. Very impressive! :)
While this recipe, and the previous one, aren’t flavors or textures I enjoy, I agree there could be better ways to communicate that.
This looks so. good.
My husband has recently decided to be a vegetarian so, I love all these meatless wonders you’ve been posting! I can’t wait to try this!
I’m a big meat eater, but this looks so delicious that I might just have to ignore my convictions for once… :)
Great recipe and what a fun vid! :D
Have you tried freezing this? It looks amazing but I’d like to make it and freezer in smaller portions. Would you assemble (minus the almonds) then back from frozen or bake, cool, then freeze? Thanks! I can’t wait to try it and make it for a few friends with new babys.
I haven’t tried freezing it, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! I would do exactly what you suggested, assemble, freeze before baking, and then bake from frozen. It’ll obviously take longer to bake from frozen, so maybe 50-60 minutes in a 350° oven?
I’m in the “not a recipe I’ll try” category — however that in no way takes away from the excellent content and amazing photos you’ve taken for this post! Lovely as always. Welcome back — you were missed.
We are vegetarians and I love when my favorite bloggers post veggie friendly recipes! We are definitely trying this yummy one out this week! Thank you for sharing!
Good Lord that video was satisfying to watch. 20/20, amazing job!!! Also, I would love to give this beauty of a recipe a try!!
Thank you! :)
As a vegan, I don’t go for every recipe, but I read every post because I love your creativity! The video was great and this is one recipe I will be making this week. Loved the veggie burger post too!
In the process of making… one might not call it a “one pot wonder”…. quite a few bowls and utensils required to make this! The kitchen is smelling wonderful though! Very excited :)
My filling was very watery at the time I put it in the oven and when it was done in the oven. Otherwise great recipe but I’m not sure where I went wrong!
So I tried this and the flavors were quite good. However I hesitated at only adding one tsp of starch as it seemed like it wouldn’t be enough. The entire dish turned out extremely, extremely watery. I would either cut the broth down or use a whole tablespoon of starch. I even sautéed the onion and mushrooms before adding everything to help with the liquid and boiled with the lid off.
I did make minor changes though. I used fresh corn off the cob and my peas were freezer burnt. My boyfriend is a meat eater but he’s okay if I only cook meat every so often. So this time around I added a about half a cup of shredded chicken and used chicken broth instead. Changes aside, the ratios, seasonings, and core veggies were all the same and there was definitely not enough starch. :( was this a typing error? Thank you for your wonderful recipe though! It could be suitable for veg heads and meat eaters alike.
I am way late on this comment but I feel compelled to write because I think many of the comments do not do this recipe justice. I followed it almost exactly (couldn’t get raw cashews so boiled/soaked roasted cashews, upped the cornstarch to 1 tbsp, and sauteed the onions/garlic/mushrooms first). While I too had too much liquid, I simply used a slotted spoon to transfer the veggies to a casserole dish and topped it with the sweet potato mixture per the recipe. All that liquid left in the pot? Turns out it makes a GREAT soup broth–I paired it with noodles. And the whole dish is even better the second day once all the ingredients get a chance to dance together for a while. Yum.
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