Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Polenta and Lentils

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  • Makes one 9x13-inch casserole
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With a mouthwatering mushroom and lentil filling and a browned polenta topping, this rustic shepherd's pie is sure to satisfy. It’s gluten-free as long as you use gluten-free oat flour. 



  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups unsweetened, unflavored plant-based milk
  • 2 cups dry polenta
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 lb. mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 7 cups)
  • 1 medium onion, diced (2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
  • 12 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1½ cups vegetable stock
  • ¼ cup oat flour
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans brown lentils, rinsed and drained (3 cups)
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag of frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (plus more for garnish)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Hot sauce (optional)


  • For topping, in a large saucepan combine vegetable stock and milk. Bring to boiling over medium-high. In a medium bowl mix polenta, nutritional yeast, salt, baking soda, and black pepper. Slowly add polenta mixture to saucepan, whisking constantly to break up any clumps. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring frequently for 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and polenta is creamy.
  • For filling, in a separate saucepan combine mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook over medium-low, stirring occasionally, until the liquid released by the mushrooms has cooked off, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add bay leaves, oregano, thyme, and 1½ cups vegetable stock. Cook over medium-low 20 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Using an immersion blender, pulse to break mushrooms into smaller pieces.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together oat flour and ¼ cup of water; add to mushroom mixture. Add lentils, frozen vegetables, vinegar, parsley, and salt and pepper. Mix well. Cook until mixture thickens.
  • Spread mixture evenly into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Top with a smooth layer of polenta.
  • Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until polenta begins to turn golden brown. Garnish with parsley. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.

Comments (13)

(4 from 8 votes)

Recipe Rating

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I looked at other people's comments before making this & it was very helpful! I skipped the plant milk and the baking soda when making the polenta. I didn't have enough lentils so I doubled the mushrooms and I think that worked well. I used about 50% more of each seasoning than the recipe called for because of some reviews saying it was bland, and I think it came out very well seasoned (but not overly so). I skipped the oat flour, and I didn't have parsley so I skipped that too. Added vegan worcestershire sauce and I think that was definitely worth doing! Only thing is that the filling did end up being just a little more liquidy than I'd planned, which is probably a result of the extra mushrooms and the frozen veggies added late in the game; still tasted great though!


I altered the recipe according to the reviews I had read. I would definitely make the polenta without the baking soda after the filling is cooked and spread out in the pan. I added NO vegetable stock to the filling, not necessary. There’s plenty of liquid from all the veggies. Delish….my husband & I loved it. Will be making this again!


Also, do people test the recipes before publishing? Why place baking soda in the polenta? Totally necessary. The polenta should be made last. By the time I made the filling, the polenta was hard and unspreadable.

Rene G

Too bland and filling too watery.

Rene Garcia

Some ingredients are just unnecessary. You don't need the milk (just use extra broth) and you definitely don't need baking soda. Just use the typical polenta recipe. Second, the filling is too watery and too bland. You don't need to add the 1.5 cups of broth into the mushroom mixture, but do season it well. Thirdly, rather than using canned lentils, it is better to buy dry lentils and cook them so that they are tender but stiff and clumps together, that way you will not need to add the oat flour to thicken.


This is the second time I’ve made it. I make a few small adjustments to the filling, depending what is available, but the results look the same and are very delicious and enjoyed by all. Certainly a dish I would be confident to serve to all types of eaters (Love the Forks over knives App,)

Sylvia Russell

Can't wait to try


Sounds fabulous

Tracy Pearce

I made this last week. I frankly found the filling bland. If I make this again, I am going to add some vegan Worcestershire sauce and some red wine.

Cecilia Stonebraker

Is yellow corn meal the same as polenta?


This is so good! Will definitely make again.


Corn meal is not a substitute for polenta. Corn meal is a finer grind while polenta is a coarser grind with regular grits often being slightly less coarse than polenta-grits can come in different grinds. You can usually substitute grits for polenta. Often white grits are found in stores, while polenta is yellow. You might be able to find yellow grits, but I haven't seen them in stores where I currently live. Years ago, there were both finely ground grits or creamy grits and coarsely ground grits sold in the US South and in both could come in either the yellow or white color, but I haven't lived there in nearly 50 years, so that may have changed. Mostly it will be a color issue as polenta and grits are very nearly the same product.


This recipe is delicious. As I was making it, I wasn’t sure if it would turn out. I was afraid it would be pasty and dry. Wow, was I wrong! The polenta crust was crispy on top and creamy in the middle and the filling was hearty and just right. I will add this to my regular recipe list.

About the Author

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About the Author

Darshana Thacker Wendel

Darshana Thacker Wendel is a whole-food, plant-based chef and former culinary projects manager for Forks Over Knives. A graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, she is the author of Forks Over Knives: Flavor! She created the recipes for Forks Over Knives Family and was a lead recipe contributor to the New York Times bestseller The Forks Over Knives Plan. Her recipes have been published in The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook, Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health, and LA Yoga magazine online. Visit and follow her on Instagram for more.
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