This lentil cottage pie with mushrooms is a firm family favourite. It's packed with lentils, mushrooms and vegetables in a rich and flavourful sauce. Topped with perfect mashed potatoes and cheese this is our kind of comfort food!
Cottage pie or Shepherd's pie is classic winter comfort food and I make it a lot. So when we went veggie, over three years ago now, I didn't want to miss out on such a great pie.
When I wanted a vegetarian cottage pie I started out by making my Quorn Cottage Pie which is a really great recipe for beginners if you're just starting out on a vegetarian diet. That progressed into this mushroom and lentil cottage pie. And ended up being a firm family favourite. This is a really great pie for when you have more time to cook.
This lentil cottage pie is packed full of flavour, with the chestnut (brown) mushrooms, puy lentils, parsnips and a deliciously rich and tasty gravy, this is truly delicious. It's perfect for batch cooking, or for making ahead and the leftovers freeze well too. Let get stuck in!
📝What Do We Need?
- Lentils - I use cooked puy lentils as they're lovely and rich and add that extra flavour to this pie. You can use other lentils such as canned green or brown lentils.
- Mushrooms - Chestnut mushrooms are great for this pie as they are have a little more flavour than plain white button mushrooms. Chestnut mushrooms are similar to crimini mushrooms. You can use regular white mushrooms if that's what you have.
- Vegetables - Other vegetables that are used in this pie are parsnips, carrots, celery, onions and frozen peas. The parsnips add a little sweetness to the pie which we love but you can omit them if you want.
- Herbs - I add fresh thyme and some dried bay leaves to the sauce.
- Sauces/stock - I made the stock using a vegetable stock cube. To add more flavour to the gravy part of this pie I add Henderson's Relish and soy sauce. Henderson's Relish is an English sauce, it looks like Worcestershire sauce, but is a relish, not a condiment. It has a distinctive sharp, spicy, yet sweet taste. If you can't find this you could use vegan Worcestireshire sauce, or mushroom ketchup.
- Red Currant Jelly - also known as red currant sauce, this balances the richness of the pie so try not to skip this if you can.
🔪 How To Make It
1. Start by cooking the onion, carrot and celery. It will need at least 20 minutes. then add the garlic, butter and chopped mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms release their juices.
2. Then add the flour and tomato puree (paste). Stir the tomato puree and flour into the vegetables then cook for a couple of minutes.
3. Next add the stock and sauces and stir in the lentils. Add the thyme and bay leaves. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes and make the mash.
4. Once the sauce is a nice thick consistency remove the thyme and bay leaves and pour the mixture into a large casserole dish. Then add the frozen peas and stir them into the mixture.
5. Add the mashed potatoes on top of the vegetable mixture and using a fork spread the mash evenly over the vegetable mixture. Top with some grated cheddar cheese.
6. Bake in the oven for 20 - 30 minutes until the sauce is bubbling up at the side and the top is golden. Leave to cool slightly before serving. Add a garnish of finely chopped parsley if you like.
👩🍳 Top Tips
- Cooking the onions, celery and carrots for at least 20 minutes adds so much more flavour to this dish so don't skip this bit.
- Puy lentils are great in this pie but you can use green or brown lentils if you want. Red lentils don't work as well as they tend to disentegrate.
- Don't skip the sauces. The soy sauce and the Henderson's relish are essential for a really good depth of flavour in this recipe.
- Fresh herbs are best for this pie so if you can please use fresh thyme, dried thyme doesn't work as well.
- The red currant jelly adds another level of flavour to this pie so I recommend not skipping it!
- Don't over mash your mash! Your mash should be smooth and fluffy but not gloopy or too wet as it will just sink into the filling. You want a definite layer of mash on top. I always add some grated mature cheddar on top of this cottage pie but that's totally up to you. For more tips on making the best mashed potatoes check out my recipe for Fluffly Mashed Potatoes.
- Add some greens to your cottage pie, spinach or kale is really good in this pie too. I cook the spinach or kale before adding it to the vegetable mixture.
- Level up the mashed potatoes by using my cheesy mashed potatoes or my colcannon mash instead!
- Swap the potato for mashed sweet potato, or for an even lighter option try mashed butternut squash.
- Add some spices to your pie, a little curry powder added to the onions, celery and carrots adds a lovley warming flavour to this pie!
- Make it vegan! This is so easy to make vegan, just make sure your stock is vegan and swap the butter and milk in the mash for a plant based butter amd milk. You can omit the cheese and brush the potatoes with a little olive oil to get that golden top. My red currant jelly was vegan but just check the label.
🍽 How To Serve It
We love this on its own but I often serve this with more veggies, steamed broccoli or Brussels sprouts go very well with this. You could also serve this with some good crusty bread!
Yes, you can. I freeze this once it is topped with the potatoes. Leave it to cool, don't bake it, don't add the cheese. Cover then pop in the freezer. Use within 3 months.
For best results, I thaw this before cooking. So thaw in the fridge overnight then bake as per the instructions. Don't forget to add the grated cheese before you pop it in the oven.
Yes! This is great for making ahead. Just prepare the pie up until you add the cheese. Leave too cool completely then store in the fridge covered until you are ready to use it. Add the grated cheese before baking.
If you have any leftovers you can store them in the fridge and use them within 3 days. Reheat, covered, in the oven for best results. Microwaving can dry out cottage pie so do bear that in mind.
👩🍳 More Delicious Comfort Food
If you need more tasty comfort food then I have some really great ideas for you! Like this Creamy Vegetarian Pot Pie, packed with veggies in a creamy sauce and topped with puff pastry, this is so good! Another great winter warmer is my Vegetarian Toad in the Hole, the batter for this is delicious, all you need to do is pick your favourite veggie sausages! And if you love sausages, my Vegan Sausage Casserole is one of the most popular vegan recipes on my blog!
Lentil Cottage Pie
For the filling
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium brown onion finely chopped
- 3 stalks celery finely chopped
- 3 medium carrots peeled and chopped
- 2 medium parsnips peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic put through a garlic press or finely minced
- ½ tbsp butter
- 300 g (3½ cup packed cups chopped) of chestnut/brown mushrooms roughly chopped
- 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree (paste)
- 1 heaped tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour
- 500 ml (2½ cups) vegetable stock made with 1 vegetable stock cube and boiling water
- 250 g (2 cups) Puy lentils pre-cooked
- 1 tbsp Henderson's Relish or vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 heaped tbsp red currant jelly (sauce)
- 4 or 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 100 g (1 cup) frozen peas
- 1½ level tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the mashed potato topping
- 1 kg (just over 2 lbs) of floury potatoes I used Maris Piper, peeled and cut into quarters
- 50 g (3½ tbsp) butter I use salted butter
- 150 ml (⅔ of a cup) of semi skimmed milk
- 1½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 40 g (⅓ of a cup) of mature (sharp) cheddar grated using the large grater side of a box grater.
To make the filling
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large sauté pan.Add the chopped onion, celery and carrot along with a pinch of salt.Cook over low to medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring often to avoid the onion burning.
- Once the onion has softened add the garlic and cook for a minute.Then add half a tablespoon of butter, all the chopped mushrooms, a pinch of salt and a small pinch of freshly ground black pepper.Cook for about 10 minutes, until the mushrooms release their juices. Stir often.
- Add the chopped parsnips and cook for a few minutes.Then add one heaped tablespoon of tomato puree (paste) and one heaped tablespoon of plain (all-purpose) flour. Stir the paste and flour into the vegetables and cook for a minute or two.
- Now pour in the stock one ladle at a time, stirring the stock into the vegetable mixture each time. The sauce will be thick to start off then will end up being slightly thin.Add all the lentils to the stock and stir well.
- Stir in one tablespoon of Henderson's relish, two tablespoons of soy sauce and one heaped tablespoon of red currant jelly.Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.Add the thyme sprigs and bay leaves.Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. Stir often to avoid sticking at the bottom of the pan.The filling is done when the sauce is nice and thick.After 20 minutes transfer to a large casserole dish and stir in the frozen peas.
To make the mashed potato topping
- Put the quartered potatoes into a saucepan. Cover with cold water and add a good pinch of salt.Bring the water to a boil then reduce to a fast simmer.Cook until the potatoes are tender. Test with a knife, the knife should go through the potato easily and should fall off the knife.Drain the potatoes, return the cooked potatoes to the saucepan and put them back on the heat for a minute to dry out.
- Mash the potatoes using a potato masher or ricer. They should be lump-free.
- Add the milk and butter to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the butter has melted.Pour the warm milk and melted butter into the mashed potatoes. Do this in stages, about a quarter at a time. Beating the liquid into potatoes with a wooden spoon.Once all the milk and butter has been added and you have a smooth mash season with sea salt and black pepper.
To assemble the cottage pie
- After you have added the peas to the vegetable mixture, use the back of a tablespoon to make sure the mixture is evenly spread out in the casserole dish.
- Add one heaped spoon of the mash to the vegetable mixture.Start in one corner and keep adding the mashed potatoes until they fully cover the vegetable mixture.Use a fork to spread the potatoes evenly over the vegetable mixture. You can make a criss-cross design with the fork if you like.
- Top with the grated cheese.
- Place the pie on a baking tray then place it on the middle tray in the oven.Bake in a preheated oven at 170°C (335°F) Fan/ 190°C (370°F) conventional oven.The cottage pie is cooked once the topping is a light golden brown and the liquid is bubbling up at the edges.Leave to cool slightly before serving.Add a sprinkling of chopped parsley as a garnish if you like.
- Casserole dish - I used a 26cm/10-inch square casserole dish and it was 6 cm/2 and a half inches deep.
- Lentils - I use pre-cooked Puy lentils for this dish, you can use canned brown or green lentils if you prefer.
- Mushrooms - Chestnut mushrooms are similar to crimini mushrooms and generally have more flavour. You can use white mushrooms if you like.
- Potatoes - floury potatoes are best for the mash, I used Maris Piper, Yukon Gold is very good too.
- Freezing - this dish can be frozen, leave it to cool, don't add the cheese and don't bake it. Cover it and place it in the freezer. Use within 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight before reheating. It is best to reheat this, covered with foil, in the oven. Microwaving will dry out the cottage pie.
- Nutritional Information - is calculated using an online tool and is approximate. It is based on one serving of 6.
- Weights and measurements - For US readers, I use Cuisipro measuring cups and spoons, and a Pyrex measuring jug for liquids. These are the industry standard. Cup/spoon volumes can differ from brand to brand, for accuracy, I recommend weighing all ingredients if possible for best results.