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Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

vegetarian shepherd's pie
Vegetarian shepherd's pie- gluten-free comfort food.

Why I've been craving mashed potatoes lately, I don't know. Spring has arrived here in the high desert. The days are longer and kinder. Apple trees are blooming. And all I can think about is a mound of soft creamy mashed potatoes. This means something.

Yeah. What it means is I am craving some serious comfort food in the form of a baked shepherd's pie- only my version is vegan and brimming with fresh vegetables. Forget the meat. And forget the lentils (so 1970's). And fake meat- er, I mean, highly processed soy protein or vital wheat gluten? I don't think so. Seitan is evil.

That's why they call it seitan.

No, my shepherd's pie has to satisfy not only my potato comfort craving, but my hankering for vegetables, spice and flavor. You know what that means. I live in New Mexico after all. It's gotta have some green chile in it. It's gotta have a little heat. Comfort food - for this gluten-free goddess, anyway- has got to have a little kick. Something to stir the taste buds awake after a long winter.

Bland is so, well, yesterday.

I like my shepherd's pie spicy- but if you prefer it less so,
leave out the chiles and red pepper flakes.

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie Recipe

Veggie lovers, if you like your vegetable pie less spicy, use regular diced tomatoes and leave out the red chile flakes. But if you want a killer combo of heat, tang and sweet, try my version. It's not your mother's shepherd's pie, Darling. Promise.


For the mashed potato crust:

3-4 large gold or white potatoes, peeled, cut up
Vegetable broth or your favorite non-dairy milk or cream, as needed
Vegan buttery spread or olive oil, to taste
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh chives, to taste

For the filling:

1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon mild curry spice
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets (about half a smallish head), cut to bite size
3 medium-large carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
1 zucchini squash, sliced and cut into quarter moons
1 yellow summer squash, sliced, cut into quarter moons
1 heaping cup shredded cabbage or slaw mix
1 14-oz. can Muir Glen Organic Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles, with juice
2 tablespoons chopped roasted Hatch chiles or jalapenos
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1-2 tablespoons low sugar apricot jam, to taste- to balance the heat
1 tablespoon rubbed sage
Hot red pepper chile flakes, to taste (or use hot pepper sauce)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 14-oz. can butter beans, drained and set aside


Place the cut potatoes in a large pot and cover with salted cold water; bring to a boil and simmer until the potatoes are fork tender, about twenty minutes.

In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet and add the cumin or curry, and garlic. Stir one minute and add the fresh chopped vegetables. Stir and cook about five minutes or so.

Add the canned diced tomatoes with green chile, the chopped Hatch chiles or jalapenos, vegetable broth, vegan Worchestshire sauce or balsamic vinegar, apricot jam, sage, pepper flakes, sea salt and pepper, and stir to combine.

Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce begins to reduce. You want the vegetables to be tender-crisp, not too done, and the sauce to be thickened and not too thin [if, by chance, you need a little more liquid to cook the veggies, add a splash more broth or water]. When this has been achieved, taste test the sauce for seasoning adjustments; then remove from heat, and gently add in the butter beans. Set aside.

Mash the cooked potatoes with a little liquid and Smart Balance or olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper. Add chives if you like. Taste test. Don't add too much liquid or over-mix the potatoes or they'll get gluey. Gluey spuds = not so good.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Assemble your pie:

Spoon the vegetables into a casserole dish. Top with mounds of mashed potato. I like to leave a few peaks (they get a bit golden). Sprinkle with chopped chives or parsley. Bake in a moderate oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the pie is bubbling and heated through.

Serves 4 as a meal, 6 as a side dish.

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  1. I've never met a vegetarian shepherd... :-)

  2. It's 12:30 here, and now I'm hungry for dinner! This just looks divine!

  3. I was all set to have my husband make dinner tonight, when I checked in for my daily dose. Then I had a bad day, it started snowing, and I suddenly got the urge to nestle into my kitchen for an evening of comfort food making. As always, Karina seems to know just what I want! Thank you!

  4. Wow that looks delicious! I never would have guessed that it was gluten free. :)

    Ari (Baking and Books)

  5. Looking yummy. I don't like shepherd's pie, but I might actually enjoy yours!


  6. I'm loving all your food photos. Makes me wanna go buy a better camera! Yum!

  7. Made your version of Shepherd's Pie last evening, it looked so delicious in the photos. Didn't have the cauliflower on hand, so I used a handful of green beans. The dish was super scrumptious. I did cut down on the "hot stuff" a little. :-) Its my age, my dear.

  8. Karina,

    This is precisely what I could use for dinner on this not-quite-Spring day in Toronto! It looks delicious!

  9. Cyn~ Do vegetarian shepherds wear wool? ;-)

    Hi Susan! Thanks, amiga.

    Hey CrumChic~ Thank you - how sweet. Nestling is good.

    Ari~ Thanks!

    Heya Slacker Mom~ You might like mine - it's one of my own "just wing it" creations.

    Hi Allergy Free! Honestly? I use a relatively inexpensive Canon point and shoot [I have a "much better" Canon Rebel, but I can't seem to get the hang of it [and it doesn't like low light].

    Hi Mom! Glad you liked it. :-) Green beans sound good!

    Hi Cream Puff! Sending you some warm New Mexico sunshine>>>>>



  10. Hi Your food blog looks great, I will be back to visit you.

    Jeena xx

    visit jeenas blog for healthy recipes
    updated daily !

  11. 2 words - MMMMmmmmm Yummmy!

  12. Thanks, Jeena!

    Hi Kleja! It was yummy. Guess what we're having tonight. ;)

  13. Krissypoo21:58

    Yes, I know this is an old post but I don't care! I made this for one of my weekly meals and it is amazing!

    Yes, I altered it. *insert rolling of eyes* Sweet potatoes instead of white, extra veggies by way of green beans, and honey instead of apricot marmalade. It's a winner!

  14. I'm not a big fan of traditional shepherd's pie, but this one I can fall in love with. Thanks for sharing. Bookmarking this one now.

  15. Made this over the weekend. YUM. I'd never even eaten shepherd's pie (pot pie, to be sure, but not shepherd's) and your scrumptions pictures (good enought to lick the screen) inspired a use for the piles of produce congregating in my kitchen. YUM.

  16. Thanks for this flash of inspiration Karina. I am enjoying my vegetables these days and your idea of a vegetarian pie really motivated me to bake this for lunch today! It tastes perfect!

  17. I just tried this recipe last night and it was amazing! I've been gluten free since March and now my boyfriend has had to go vegan so finding food to keep us both happy can be challenging. This dish hit the spot, and I'm so glad we didn't have company so we can have leftovers ;) Also, we subbed in some spaghetti squash instead of summer squash. Yum!

  18. Krissypoo- Your changes sound delicious! Thanks for sharing your ideas.

    JS_ Thanks and hope you like it!

    Cassidy Lee- Great! Glad you enjoyed it.

    Soulchocolate- Excellent- I love it when we help each other feel inspired in the kitchen.

    Kristy- Yay- so happy. You do have a challenge in a mixed household- have you checked my Vegetarian & Vegan Index? Lots of recipes tucked in there.

    Take care and thanks, everyone!



  19. I have had a real hankering for some nice mashed potatoes. This recipe sounds great. I plan on making it this evening. I found some nice smoky gouda cheese to put over the mashed potatoes for a meater flavor. The veggie base will be mushrooms, onions, peas and carrots. I will let you know how it turns out. Great recipes. Thanks

  20. It was a hit. I used mushrooms, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, tomatoes plus tomato paste and Worchestershire Sauce. I had added a little mushroom soup to make a little sauce. The biggest hit was also a tiny bit of chipotles in adobo sauce. The chipotles are too hot for me usually but I took a slice of chili and mashed it up. This I added to the vegetables. It gave it a good heat but not too much. I cheated on the mashed potatoes by using Whole Foods Instant Mashed Potatoes with garlic. They were very easy and tasted much better than I expected. Topping the potatoes with smoky gouda cheese before backing was wonderful.
    Thank you Karina for the inspiration.

  21. Melinda22:02

    As a vegetarian that works for a gluten-free company, I have grown to love looking at the recipes here.

  22. Anonymous12:58

    I'm not vegan, but I love vegetables. This dish is delicious! The spiciness is lovely with the sweetness in this recipe. Shepherd's Pie can be pretty plain, but this is so flavorful.

    Thanks for such a wonderful veggie recipe. (and thanks to above commenters for the helpful and delicious substitution suggestions)


  23. This was my Christmas dinner yesterday. I had a friend who doesn't like the heat, so I made it without the chilis. It was a huge hit. Only problem was I made so much I didn't have a big enough dish to put it in! My friend brought over a 9 x 13 lasagna dish and that worked out just great. I served it with a mixed lettuce salad and the tomato/garlic focaccia bread. For dessert we had an array of fresh fuit and chocolate.

  24. Anonymous22:44

    I just made this and it was wonderful. I'm not a vegan, so I sprinkled some aged cheddar over it at the end and let it brown - it was fantastic and I will be making this for years to come - thank you.

    And another thank you for changing my life. I originally found your site because I just loved the way you thought about food - having no idea that the intestinal problems (as well as depression, anxiety, anemia, etc, etc) I had suffered all of my life might have an explainable cause. When I started to have really severe symptoms last summer, culminating in a totally unnecessary appendectomy, I started to connect the dots and wonder if I might have celiac disease.

    That turned out to be the case, and I am in the process of recovering from a lifetime of illness and learning to live a new reality. Very exciting (to finally have an answer) very daunting (to try to live in a society that is just beginning to understand our problem) frustrating, isolating, yet liberating.

    I have found real support through your site - I can feed myself and my family and be joyful in doing so. No one in our house feels deprived, because we are eating such wonderful food and everyone is happy to make our home gluten free to protect my health ( and theirs ;)

    So thank you - you are reaching a lot of people out here - far more than you probably know.

  25. Melody21:30

    Thanks so much for this recipe! Now this gluten-free vegan girl knows what to take to the in-laws this Thursday. I have been vegan for 10 years but have only been gluten-free about six months and your website has been a great resource. Every recipe I've made has been excellent and I love knowing that I will always have success with your recipes. As long as your blog is around, I don't think I will ever need to buy a cookbook again!

  26. I've been craving shepherds pie for years, but the only way I ever knew how to make it was with ground beef, corn and mashed potatoes (Quebec's version of it, where I grew up). I saw this recipe a couple of days ago, and had almost all the ingredients on hand, so I went and got what I was missing and realized when I came home that I forgot the beans. So I got the beans and made it tonight (for tomorrow), just assembled it all literally a couple of minutes ago, and it hit me: forgot to add the beans to it anyways! LOL. I taste tested it though, and it's still going to be amazing!

    Thanks for sharing!

  27. Hi there, can this be made the day before? And what size dish?

  28. Thank you all for your lovely comments. xox

    Anthea, no I wouldn't make it the day before. It's best assembled and baked. You'll need a casserole dish that accommodates 4-6 servings. Mine (pictured) is an art pottery dish- I don't know the exact size, volume wise.