This Beef and Lentil Shepherd’s Pie is big time comfort food! I took a tasty twist on the traditional filling by adding lentils, barley and lots of veggies. I’m all about simple cooking with nutritional impact, and lentils in particular, pack a punch of protein, fiber and minerals.
I discovered my love for lentils at a food conference a few years ago when I saw how versatile they were. (That’s why I’m so happy to be working with Canadian Lentils on this #LoveALentil campaign. Their lentil quesadilla samples changed my life.)
Lentils can go way beyond the soups and stews, y’all. Think salads, smoothies and even desserts! But for now, they’re going into this yummy beef and lentil shepherd’s pie recipe, and it’s delicious!
The lentils you see most often on grocery store shelves are whole green lentils and split red lentils. Split lentils have their seed coat removed, and the inner part of the lentil has been split in half. Here’s a pic of the lentils in my pantry, so you can see the difference in thickness. (It takes split lentils about half the time to cook.)
Pssst, packaged lentils should be stored in airtight containers in a dry, dark cool location (like in a pantry or on a cupboard shelf) for up to a year.
Lentils are simple to cook (rinse, simmer, serve), but here’s a tip to make preparation even easier. You can puree and freeze lentils in specific quantities, so the next time you need some for a recipe, just thaw out the needed portion. Smart, right?
I love them because in spite of their tiny size, there’s a whopping amount of protein and fiber. In a 100 gram serving of whole green lentils, there are 26 grams of protein, and in the same size serving of split red lentils, there are 18 grams of fiber.
Now you can see why I used them in my shepherd’s pie recipe. Lentils don’t mess around!
To make the filling for the beef and lentil shepherd’s pie, I sauteed some carrots, onion and garlic, and separately browned some ground beef. I added everything to a big stockpot along with beef broth, lentils, barley, tomatoes, peas, corn and seasonings and let all those flavors simmer together for 30-40 minutes.
While that was simmering, I made some homemade mashed potatoes for the topping.
The filling went into the bottom of a large casserole dish.
And the mashed potatoes were smoothed over the top.
The whole shebang went into the oven for 30 minutes. I stuck mine under the broiler for just a couple minutes at the end to brown the potatoes too, and then I let the meal sit on the counter for about 15 minutes before serving.
It was oh, so yummy!
Tip: Individual servings can be frozen and reheated.
Beef and Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1/2 sweet onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup split red lentils rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup pearl barley
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 14.5- oz can whole kernel corn drained
- 1 14.5- oz can green peas drained
- 1 10 oz can diced tomatoes w/ green chiles
- 4 pounds golden potatoes peeled and quartered
- 1/3 cup milk
- 2 Tbsp butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan over medium high heat, saute carrots in 1 Tbsp olive oil about 4 minutes. Add onions and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
Transfer to large stock pot and add beef broth, lentils, barley, thyme and soy sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in corn, green peas and tomatoes; continue simmering another 10 minutes.
While lentils are simmering, brown ground beef, and cook potatoes. Place potatoes in large stockpot; add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover loosely and boil gently for 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain well. Mash. Season with butter, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Add ground beef to beef stock mixture.
Lightly grease a 3 quart baking dish and pour lentil mixture into dish. Use a spatula to spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the ground beef/lentil mixture. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Bake 30 minutes, or until potatoes are lightly browned on top. Let stand about 15 minutes before serving.
To make a vegetarian shepherd's pie recipe, omit the ground beef and use vegetable broth in place of beef broth.
I hope this beef and lentil shepherd’s pie recipe gets you thinking about all the possibilities of cooking with lentils. They’re easy to cook and eat, heart smart and rich in nutrition- perfect additions to your pantry!
What are your favorite lentil recipes?