This vegan tempeh shepherd’s pie features mushrooms, red wine, and lots of wintery aromatics. Works as well for weeknight dinners as for festive gatherings. (This article has been updated from its original October 2017 version).
Shepherd’s pie (also known as ‘cottage pie’ in the UK or hachis parmentier in France) is a traditional peasant dish designed to repurpose leftover meat – like ground beef, lamb, or duck. The meat is typically combined with peas, carrots, and broth to create a rich gravy, then layered into a casserole dish, topped with fluffy mashed potatoes, and baked.
The result: a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meal perfect after a day of strenuous shepherding in the windy mountains. (Or for just binging Netflix on the couch.)
This vegan version of shepherd’s pie replaces meat with mushrooms and tempeh. For the gravy element, I take a nod from the French and spike the broth with red wine, which gives the pie a festive, warming quality. (It’s also a great way to use leftover wine that’s been lingering in the fridge for a while).
What’s In This Tempeh Shepherd’s Pie
This dish has 2 elements: the “meaty” filling and the potato topping. The filling primarily consists of ground tempeh and sliced mushrooms – along with onions, carrots, and celery (collectively known as mirepoix), plus peas, tomato paste, red wine, and veg broth. The topping consists of potatoes mashed with vegan milk and olive oil.
Start the Potatoes: Peel and chop the potatoes, place in a pot, cover with water, and season with salt. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Then simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
Cook the Mushrooms: While the potatoes are doing their thing, cook the mushrooms until golden brown – about 10 minutes – then remove from the pan and set aside. (It’s important to cook them separately for proper browning; if you cook the mushrooms with the mirepoix, they will steam instead of caramelizing and won’t develop flavor.)
P.S. If you have a large cast iron skillet, you can cook the filling and then bake the pie in it.
Start the Filling: In the pan where you cooked the mushrooms, combine crumbled tempeh with a bit of water and cook just until it evaporates; this step steams the tempeh, which reduces its natural bitterness and helps it absorb other flavors. Then add oil, the mirepoix, garlic, and dried herbs. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.
Finish the Filling: Lastly, add the wine, broth, and peas, as well as the cooked mushrooms.
Finish the Potatoes: Scoop out a bit of the starchy water right before draining the potatoes, then return the potatoes to the pot. Add warm milk, olive oil, and the reserved water, and mash until smooth.
Layer and Bake: Transfer the filling to a deep-dish pie pan or casserole dish. Dollop the mashed potatoes on top and gently spread to cover the surface in an even layer. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top is lightly golden.
Ingredients + Substitutions
- Potatoes: I like to use white or Yukon Gold potatoes because they’re less starchy. If you can’t find them, Idaho will work fine.
- Milk: Full-fat oat milk and unsweetened cashew milk have the richest texture and most neutral flavor that’s fit for savory cooking. Avoid almond milk here.
- Tempeh: Look for it in the refrigerated section near things like tofu, hummus, etc.
- Red Wine: This is a great place to use leftover wine. Anything dry – like malbec or pinot noir – will work. Never use “cooking wine.” If you don’t drink, substitute the wine with an equal amount of extra broth and compensate for the acidity with a splash of balsamic vinegar.
If you don’t eat soy or just aren’t a fan of tempeh, use 1 1/2 cups cooked green lentils in the filling instead; you can add them at the end of step 6 along with the mushrooms.
For a lower-carb version, swap out half of the potatoes for cauliflower: start cooking the potatoes alone first, then add the cauli after the water starts boiling.
If you like tempeh shepherd’s pie, check out…
- Cauliflower Pot Pie
- Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
- Brown Rice Congee
- Creamy Polenta with Mushroom Ragù
This vegan tempeh shepherd’s pie features mushrooms and red wine. Works as well for weeknight dinners as for festive gatherings.
For the Potatoes
- 4 medium white or Yukon Gold potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into small chunks* (see note below)
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened unflavored oat or cashew milk, warmed
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or vegan butter
For the Tempeh Filling
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
- One 8-ounce package tempeh, crumbled
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 large or 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 large or 2 small celery stalks, diced
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence (or another hardy dried herb, like thyme, rosemary, or oregano)
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine*
- 1 cup mushroom or vegetable broth (low-sodium, if possible)
- 1 cup frozen shelled peas
- Place the potatoes in a medium pot with 1 teaspoon salt and enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer with the lid ajar until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- Meanwhile, start the filling. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the mushrooms. Cook until they’re browned, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- To the skillet where you cooked the mushrooms, add the tempeh with 1/2 cup water. Simmer over medium heat until all the water is evaporated, about 5 minutes.
- Add 2 tablespoons oil, the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, 1 teaspoon herbs, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and lots of pepper. Cook until the vegetables are softened and starting to brown, stirring occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Add 2 tablespoons tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add 1 cup wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Simmer for about 2 minutes to evaporate the alcohol. Then add 1 cup each broth and peas, and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat off, add the mushrooms back in, and taste to adjust the seasonings if needed.
- When the potatoes are ready, reserve 1/4 cup of the starchy water, drain them, and return to the pot. Add the reserved water plus 1/2 cup warm milk and 2 tablespoons oil. Mash until smooth. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
- Transfer the tempeh mixture to a deep-dish pie pan or casserole dish. Dollop with the potatoes and spread in an even layer. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top is lightly golden. Serve immediately.
- I like to use these potatoes because they’re less starchy. If you can’t find them, Idaho will work fine.
- This is a great place to use leftover wine that’s been lingering for a while. Anything dry – like malbec or pinot noir – will work. Never use “cooking wine.” If you don’t drink, substitute the wine with an equal amount of extra broth and compensate for the acidity with a splash of balsamic vinegar.
- Serving Size: 1/8 of the recipe
- Calories: 280
- Fat: 12.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 30.2 g
- Fiber: 4.8 g
- Protein: 10 g
Keywords: tempeh, mushrooms, potatoes, shepherd’s pie, vegan shepherd’s pie