Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Rustic Parsnip Crust

My family eats mashed potatoes at every holiday meal, and as a kid I never liked them, except as a bowl for gravy, which I adored. Imagine my surprise when I learned that you could add other things to mashed potatoes to make them good—such as roasted garlic, leeks, and, as in this dish, parsnips.

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By Del Sroufe,


  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced small
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced small
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1½ cup green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 medium red-skin potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 parsnips, peeled and chopped


  • Place the onion, carrot, and celery in a large saucepan and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add water 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time to keep the vegetables from sticking to the pan. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the rosemary, lentils, bay leaf, and enough water to cover the lentils by 3 inches. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  • Add the tomato paste to the saucepan and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf and rosemary sprig, and pour the lentils into a 9 × 13-inch baking dish.
  • Meanwhile, add the potatoes and parsnips to a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Remove the potatoes and parsnips from the heat and drain all but ½ cup of the water. Mash the vegetables until smooth and creamy, then season with additional salt and spread the mixture evenly over the lentils.
  • Bake the casserole for 25 minutes, or until bubbly. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Comments (8)

(5 from 3 votes)

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Are green lentils the same as French green lentils?

Megan Edwards

Hi Jan, French lentils are a variety of green lentils and have a different texture, taste, and nutrient density than standard green lentils. You would be welcome to use standard green lentils in this recipe, but French green lentils will add a bit more of a meaty texture and stronger peppery flavor. So if you decide to use standard green lentils you may want to add an extra crack of black pepper and salt. Let us know how it turns out!


Made last night and it was really good. Loved the addition of parsnips to the mashed potatoes. Used up an old sweet potato on one half which is also really good on shepherds pie.

Leah Stolar

This recipe is very similar to the Shepherd’s Pie that I adapted from my childhood. I include a package of sliced/chopped mushrooms and a can of chopped tomatoes. It’s important to drain or absorb all the liquid so the bottom stays intact. I sprinkle smoked paprika on top of the potatoes. I’ve also included frozen peas and corn in the lentil mix.


I make my Vegan Shepherds Pie with mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes. I also mix together lentils and quinoa. A slight variation on yours.


Delicious! I added mushrooms and used Penzey's Northwoods seasoning plus some half sharp paprika. Also, I cooked the lentils in an oven safe skillet then put the mashed potatoes and parsnips right in the skillet and put the whole thing in the oven, saved myself a pot to clean!


Could I make the whole dish up until the baking step, refrigerate it overnight, and then bake it the next day?


I think that would work, but I would maybe add additional liquid. I think the filling would dry out some overnight in the fridge as the lentils continue to absorb moisture. When I put mine in the oven there was almost a gravy, but by the end of the evening when I was putting leftovers away it had dried out quite a bit.

About the Author

Headshot of Def Sroufe

About the Author

Del Sroufe

Chef Del Sroufe is co-owner and executive chef of Wellness Forum Foods, a whole-food, plant-based meal delivery and catering service in Columbus, Ohio. He is the author of Forks Over Knives - The Cookbook and Better Than Vegan. Del teaches cooking classes and helps people transition to a healthy plant-based diet.
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