Shepherd’s pie is one of those classic comfort foods that pretty much everyone can appreciate. This spin on the original version uses lentils and beef to provide a hearty filling, while cutting back on the grocery bill. (And amping up the nutrition!)
Lentils are a powerhouse of nutrition—full of fiber, important minerals, and protein. By combining just a small amount of beef with cooked lentils, the end result is a healthy and affordable rendition of Shepherd’s pie that even the big meat eaters in your life will love.
Serve this Penny Pincher’s Shepherd’s Pie up on a cold night with a side salad (and maybe a bit of red wine) and you will be feeling full, satisfied, and cozy in no time.
For the Filling:
- 1 cup green lentils
- ½ pound grass fed ground beef
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1-2 stalks of celery, very finely chopped
- 1 smallish yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¼ cup Coconut Aminos or low sodium soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1-2 bay leaves
- About 2 cups beef broth
- Olive oil
For the Topping:
- 2 to 2.5 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Splash of coconut milk or cream
To make the topping:
- Add cubed potatoes to a pot of boiling water with a few generous pinches of salt. Cover and boil for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.
- Drain potatoes and reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
- Add potatoes back to the pot along with the butter and splash of coconut milk or cream. Mash until you achieve your desired consistency, thinning with reserved cooking liquid and adjusting seasoning to taste. Reserve.
To make the filling:
- Rinse the lentils and add them to a pot along with 3 cups of water and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cook uncovered for about 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, add ½ cup of the beef broth and ¼ teaspoon of salt and cook covered for an additional 5-10 minutes, until lentils are tender but not mushy.
- While lentils cook, add carrots, celery, onion, and garlic to a pan with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until vegetables are quite soft, 15 minutes or so, adding broth to the vegetables to deglaze the pan as necessary.
- Add tomato paste, paprika, and Coconut Aminos or soy sauce and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Stir in frozen peas during the last minute of cooking and remove vegetables from pan and reserve.
- Bring the same pan back to medium high heat and add olive oil and ground beef. Brown the beef and season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked lentils to the beef along with ½ to 1 cup of broth and a generous glug of olive oil.
- Add the cooked vegetables back into the pan with the beef and lentils and stir everything to combine, adding more broth if necessary (you want the filling to be saucy but not soupy). Taste and season to your preference.
Assembling the pie:
- If using a skillet for the pie (as pictured above) simply add the mashed potatoes to cover the pie filling and spread evenly.
- If using another serving dish, transfer filling to the dish, add the mashed potatoes to cover the pie filling and spread evenly.
- Bake the pie in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and serve with a side salad and feta cheese, if desired.