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Healthy Vegan Cottage Pie

By Thepickyeater @pickyeaterblog

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I'm excited to share my comforting vegan cottage pie, which combines a hearty mix of lentils and chickpeas, tender vegetables, and a topping of fluffy mashed potatoes. I have made sure that this easy recipe delivers bold, savory flavor and the perfect plant-based meaty texture! Ready in under one hour, this is an ideal meal for busy weeknights, holiday gatherings, or anytime you crave comfort food. If you have been looking for something nutritious that the whole family will love, give my vegan shepherd's pie recipe a try!

Healthy Vegan Cottage Pie

I am a big fan of cottage pie but as a vegetarian I have struggled to find a version that meets all my requirements for texture, taste, and healthy plant-based ingredients. So I did what I do best and headed to the kitchen to come up with the ultimate vegan cottage pie!

While recreating a meat based dish with only vegan ingredients can be a challenge, I have managed to capture the flavor and texture of this classic comfort food perfectly! By using a blend of chickpeas, walnuts, and lentils, I was able to achieve that meat-like consistency I had been craving.

This veggie cottage pie is basically the English equivalent to my Greek vegan moussaka. It's a labor of love but the end result is outstanding! Not only does my entire family enjoy this dish, but it even received a thumbs up from my non-vegan friends!

🥘 Ingredients

No meat, no dairy, no problem! This recipe uses only real plant-based whole foods. Here's what you need for my ​​healthy vegan cottage pie:

Healthy Vegan Cottage Pie

Mashed Potatoes: I like to make my own healthy mashed potatoes with Russet potatoes or Yukon Gold potatoes. You can also use a store bought mix to make it super easy, just check the label to make sure it's vegan if you need it to be.

Onion: A yellow, brown, or sweet onion is ideal. I tend to avoid using red onions as their taste is stronger and can overwhelm the other flavors.

Lentils: These offer some protein and fiber. Feel free to use all lentils instead of a blend of chickpeas and lentils, but I prefer the variation in texture.

Chickpeas: I love using these as another plant based source of protein to recreate the meaty texture. You can use canned chickpeas instead of dried, soaked ones, but the texture will change a little. White beans would also work - vegetarian shepherd's pie with beans is so delicious!

Chopped Walnuts: Walnuts are a surprising meat substitute but I find they works so well! Their texture and flavor is excellent!

Umami Seasoning: Use any savory, salty liquid seasoning like tamari, soy sauce, or Yondu vegetable umami seasoning. Yondu has a rich umami flavor that it gets from fermented soybeans and a concentrated broth made from 8 vegetables. I have been loving using it in so many things, including this vegetarian cottage pie! It also happens to be gluten-free! Note: if you use soy sauce or tamari instead of Yondu, start small and taste as you go (you may need less than the amount of Yondu this recipe calls for).

Vegetables: I use a combination of peas and carrots here. Peas are a classic in cottage pie, and also a good source of plant based protein. Adding extra nutrients and flavor, carrots are a must in this recipe!

Spices & Herbs: Freshly minced garlic cloves are best for the most incredible flavor, but I have also used jarred minced garlic in a pinch. Parsley and thyme give this recipe some excellent flavor. Depending on the broth that I use, I sometimes add in some sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Veggie Broth: I prefer to use broth as the liquid of choice to give an extra boost of flavor. You can use a low sodium option if needed.

Tomato Paste: I have found that this ingredient is critical for achieving the rich, deep flavor I was after!

🔪 How To Make Vegan Cottage Pie

Follow along with my step by step directions to make the most delicious vegan chickpea cottage pie!

Preheat Oven & Chop: I start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit / 205 degrees Celsius. Then, I chop the chickpeas and walnuts into smaller pieces by pulsing in my food processor. Note, you can also chop the whole mixture in a food processor after cooking, but I prefer the easier clean up option (not as sticky/messy).

Saute Onion & Garlic: Now, in a large skillet, I sauté onion, garlic and salt with olive oil, or vegetable broth if oil free, over medium heat until the onion is soft. About 5 minutes.

Add Other Ingredients: Next, I add the lentils, chickpeas, walnuts, parsley and thyme and stir until just browning. About 3-5 minutes.

Healthy Vegan Cottage Pie

Add Broth Ingredients: Then, I add 2 cups of the broth, Yondu and tomato paste and cook covered for about 8-10 minutes.

Healthy Vegan Cottage Pie

*If you opted to chop the entire mixture after cooking, then chop now in a food processor. Make sure to pulse slowly so it doesn't turn into mush. It helps to do it in small batches. Add back to the pan when done.

Healthy Vegan Cottage Pie

Add Veggies: Now, I add the carrots, peas and the rest of the broth into the pan and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated but it still has some sauce.

Healthy Vegan Cottage Pie

Assemble: Finally, I spread the mixture at the bottom of a square casserole dish and top with my mashed potatoes.

Healthy Vegan Cottage Pie

Bake: I bake the cottage pie for 25 minutes, until the top is browning at the edges. Allow to cool so it sets better and serve!

Healthy Vegan Cottage Pie

📖 Variations

Enjoy my vegan cottage pie with your own unique spin on it! Here are some of my favorite ways to change things up:

More Veggies: You can fill this cottage pie with just about any extra vegetables you have on hand. While I wanted to make this vegetarian shepherd's pie with no mushrooms, feel free to add in some if that's your style! Peppers or celery are great too, as they add texture and flavor. My family also loves when I make a vegan cabbage and chickpea pie, adding in chopped green cabbage to the mix!

Mashed Potato Flavors: For just a slight variation, I'll sometimes just add new flavors to the mashed potatoes! I love adding in extra garlic, chives, or onion powder.

Other Herbs: Parsley and thyme are my go-to herbs for this recipe, but oregano, dried basil, or even rosemary will taste great too!

Lentil-Free: If you prefer your vegan shepherd's pie with no lentils, swap them out for additional chickpeas and walnuts. On the occasions where I am out of lentils, I've made it this way and it is still super yummy!

🍽 Serving Suggestions

My cottage pie with vegetables can serve as a complete meal any night of the week, but is also great for holidays like St. Patrick's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. No matter the occasion, it pairs nicely with the following side dishes:

Veggie Dishes: I love keeping things light and easy, pairing my lentil shepherd's pie with veggie-forward sides like my apple walnut salad, roasted green beans and potatoes, or air fryer brussels sprouts.

Comfort Foods: Whether it is the winter months or not, I really enjoy the flavor combinations of these comforting classics. Try this veg cottage pie served alongside my healthy mac and cheese, homemade biscuits, or stewed beans.

Holiday Classics: I know you'll love my healthy cottage pie recipe paired with Thanksgiving and Christmas classics, regardless of the time of year! Try it out with my vegan sweet potato casserole, air fryer carrots, and cornbread gluten free stuffing.

🫙 Storage Instructions

Fridge: Once cooled, I store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Freeze: When I need longer lasting storage, I place the cottage pie in an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. I have found that freezing it unbaked is best, but it can also be frozen after cooking. Potatoes run the risk of changing texture when frozen, so if you prefer, wait to top with the mashed potatoes until you're ready to bake.

Reheat: You can either bake the frozen whole foods vegan shepherd's pie covered in foil, or thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before baking and then warm it in either the oven or the microwave. I have tested out both methods and either will work well!

❓Recipe FAQs

How do I know when the pie is fully cooked?

A golden brown crust and bubbling filling are good indicators that the pie is done, but I also like to test with a skewer or toothpick. When inserted into the center of the pie, it should come out hot, indicating the filling is heated all the way through.

How do I prevent the mashed potato topping from becoming soggy?

The key to a mashed potato topping that has the perfect texture is to use the right type of potatoes! I like Yukon Golds or Russets for this filling. I also recommend making homemade mashed potatoes instead of store-bought - they just tend to be fluffier and turn out better overall. Another great tip is to use a potato ricer which helps achieve a smooth consistency without overworking the potatoes (which can release excess moisture).

Healthy Vegan Cottage Pie

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