A decidedly comfort-food dinner, lentil cottage pie is one of the best things to make for a chilly evening. With a rich lentil base flavoured with herbs and red wine, topped with creamy mashed potatoes, there’s nothing better. This version doesn’t include mushrooms and is made with simple, staple ingredients.
I often make this in the winter months, because though it’s a little more time intensive than a quick soup or pasta, it makes plenty. Since it reheats so spectacularly, it’s an excellent dish to make with leftovers in mind.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Potatoes: this is essentially my dairy-free mashed potatoes recipe. You’ll need starchy potatoes, salt, and water (no milk).
- Vegetable broth: this is a recipe where a good broth is a staple ingredient. Water just doesn’t cut it. You can use homemade or store-bought.
- Lentils: use brown, green, or black lentils, but not red.
- Red wine: if you don’t use wine, substitute one tablespoon balsamic vinegar for the wine and add extra broth to make up for it.
Step by Step
This is a little bit time consuming – about an hour – but it’s well worth it, and makes a big portion. Cottage pie is excellent the next day.
Step 1: fry the onions for a few minutes, then add the carrots and garlic and cook a couple minutes longer. Stir in the spices and rosemary cook for another minute, then add the wine.
Step 2: stir in the broth and bring to a boil before adding the lentils. Cover to simmer.
Step 3: boil the potatoes in salted water until soft.
Step 4: mash the potatoes with some reserved cooking water, oil, and spices.
Step 5: simmer the lentil base for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
Step 6: thicken with the water and cornstarch mixture. Stir in the thyme.
Step 7: optionally transfer the lentil base to a baking dish (see below) and top with the potatoes.
Step 8: bake for another ten minutes, and serve.
Don’t worry about peeling the carrots or potatoes, it just creates unnecessary food waste. Keeping the peel on reduces landfill and emissions as they are often improperly disposed of (not composted) and they’re tasty in any case. A good scrub does the trick.
I like to broil the pie for just a couple of minutes to give the top a nice golden sheen and slight crispy texture. This is completely optional.
How to Store
Storage: keep the cooled pie in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three days. I usually store it in an oven-safe lidded pot, and recommend reheating in the oven. You can store the unbaked, assembled pie in the same way and bake when ready.
Freezing: transfer to an airtight container and freeze for up to two months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating as usual.
- Season to taste: be sure to taste both the base and the topping before assembling the pie, as it’s harder to add extra salt after baking (you’d have to mix everything together).
- Use the potato water: you can use milk if preferred, but the starchy cooking water is an excellent way to make a creamy vegan potato mash, granny style.
- Use an oven-safe pot: if you want less dishes, you can use an oven-safe pot to make the lentil base in. Simply top with the mash and pop it right in the oven rather than transferring to a separate dish.
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Lentil Cottage Pie
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 2 medium carrots diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 sprig rosemary leaves only, minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper to taste
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 50 ml dry red wine
- 600 ml vegetable broth
- 200 grams brown lentils
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 1 kilogram starchy potatoes
- 200 ml cooking water reserve before draining
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Sea salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Heat a large pot over medium. Once hot, add the olive oil. Add the onions and stir, then cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and fragrant. This should be 7-8 minutes.2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 medium onion
- Stir in the carrots and garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the rosemary and spices and cook for another 30 seconds.2 medium carrots, 2 cloves garlic, 1 sprig rosemary, 1 teaspoon sea salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Add the red wine and let it cook down until reduced by half. This should take just a minute or two.50 ml dry red wine
- Add the vegetable broth. Cover and increase the heat to bring the filling to a boil, then add the lentils. Reduce the heat to simmer for about 20 minutes, covered, or until the lentils are tender.600 ml vegetable broth, 200 grams brown lentils
- While the lentils are cooking, prepare the topping. Scrub the potatoes well and cut them into rough chunks, then add to a pot and cover with plenty of water. Season well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer until the potatoes are fork-soft, about ten minutes.1 kilogram starchy potatoes
- Reserve 200 ml (scant 1 cup) of the cooking water before draining. Add the oil and spices, then add the cooking water as needed while mashing to get the consistency you like. Season to taste.200 ml cooking water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, Sea salt to taste, Black pepper to taste
- Once the lentils are cooked, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Use a fork to mix the two tablespoons of water and cornstarch in a cup. Add to the lentil mixture and stir well, letting it simmer for another minute to thicken. Stir in the thyme. Taste and season as needed.2 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons corn starch, 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- Transfer the lentil mixture to a baking dish (or use the pot, if oven-safe). Top with the mashed potatoes in an even layer.
- Bake for about ten minutes, or until the base is bubbling up around the edges of the dish. Serve hot. Leftovers will keep well, refrigerated, for up to three days.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.