Lentil Vegetable Shepherd's Pie with Purple Cauliflower Mash + Homemade Brown Gravy
I’m ready for fall, y’all. I’m tired of sweating, I miss my chunky sweaters and I can’t wait to come home to a steaming, bubbling crock pot full of chili (great recipe here, btw). Who’s with me?
Shepherd’s pie would generally be considered a fall dish, but man have I been craving something stewy. A veggie-loaded, oven baked lentil pie was just the ticket, and to make things interesting, we topped it with a bright and beautiful purple cauliflower mash.
Fun fact: purple cauliflower gets its color from anthocyanin, the same antioxidant that’s found in red cabbage and red wine. If you can’t find purple cauliflower, the regular ole white kind will do just find. You could also take a more traditional route and go for mashed red potatoes or sweet potatoes!
Just for fun, we cooked the pies in 8 in. round cast iron skillets so my husband and I could each have our own (no way you’ll finish it, though). If you don’t have cast iron skillets and/or don’t want to buy them, a regular 9 in. x 13 in. glass dish will work too. We also whipped up a killer vegetarian gravy to tie the whole dish together (if you’re a gravy fan, check out my recipe for Vegetarian Poutine). To make the pies vegan, swap out the butter for vegan-friendly butter.
This recipe is not difficult by any means, but it is a bit time-consuming. Plan your time wisely so you’re not spending hours in the kitchen. Here are some tips:
The vegetables for the gravy take an hour to roast. While they’re roasting, prepare/measure out all the other ingredients so they’re ready to go.
When the gravy has been cooking for 20 minutes, start on the pie filling.
Once you’re on Step 4 (see below), start boiling the water for the cauliflower.
If anything gets cold, no worries — you’ll end up baking it all anyway.
This is one of my favorite dishes and is guaranteed to be a staple in our house this fall. Hope you enjoy!
INGREDIENTS - PIE
1 T. olive oil
1 1/2 c. uncooked brown lentils
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 oz. button mushrooms, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
4 c. vegetable stock
1 1/2 t. dried thyme
1 1/2 t. dried rosemary
Salt & pepper, to taste
10 oz. bag frozen mixed veggies (corn, peas, carrots and green beans)
INGREDIENTS - MASH
2 heads purple cauliflower, cut into florets
1 t. olive oil
1/4 t. white pepper
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. dried sage
3 T. butter
INGREDIENTS - GRAVY
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
5 celery stalks, roughly chopped
5 large carrots, roughly chopped
6 whole garlic cloves
1 T. butter
2 t. dried rosemary
2 t. dried thyme
2 t. freshly cracked black pepper
2 t. salt
1 c. vegetable stock + 3/4 c.
1 heaping tablespoon of all-purpose flour
1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. You’ll need a 9 in. x 9 in. glass dish for the gravy. Place the carrots, yellow onion, celery and whole garlic cloves into the dish. No need to peel anything! Sprinkle the veggies with the thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Slice the butter and place the pats evenly on top of the veggies. Pour one cup of the vegetable broth into a corner of the dish so the broth fills in the spaces under the veggies. Roast, uncovered, for one hour.
2) Moving on to the pie! Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes.
3) Add the lentils, rosemary, thyme and vegetable stock to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
4) After 20 minutes, add the frozen veggies and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook another 20 minutes or until the mixture thickens, then remove from heat.
5) To prepare the cauliflower mash, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the cauliflower florets and cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until the florets are fork-tender but not mushy. Drain the cauliflower into a colander, then use a bowl to press as much water as possible out of the cauliflower.
6) Add the cauliflower to a food processor along with the olive oil, butter, white pepper, nutmeg and sage. Blend until smooth.
7) Scoop the pie filling into the cast iron skillets and spread it evenly, leaving room for a layer of cauliflower mash.
8) Use a spatula to scrape the cauliflower mash into a large plastic bag. Make about a 1 in. cut in one of the bottom corners of the bag so you’re able to pipe the mash on top of the pies. Bake the pies in the oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
9) Don’t forget about the gravy! Grab the pot you used to boil the cauliflower and place a sieve over the pot. Pour the gravy into a sieve and use a spoon to press out as much liquid as possible. Discard the vegetables if you’d like, or you can save them to snack on (they’re super tasty). Our dogs loved them!
10) Add the pot of gravy to the stove over medium-high heat. Pour in a heaping tablespoon of flour and the remaining 3/4 c. of vegetable stock. Use a whisk to stir constantly; the gravy is done once it comes to a rolling simmer. Once the pies are done, ladle the gravy over the top.