Make this Tempeh Shepherd's Pie on St. Patrick's Day or anytime you're in the mood for vegetarian comfort food.
Phew. These last few days have been wild. I had to cancel a trip I've really been looking forward to, my yoga studio is closed, the grocery store is fresh out of tofu, canned beans, and oat milk (literal staples!), and all of the restaurants in the state are only offering carryout orders.
In reality, these are pretty small problems to be dealing with. I’m grateful for my health and that of my friends and family above all else. It's all completely necessary, but you know, still a period of transition.
Even with all of this uncertainty, one fact is undebatable. I’ll never stop craving hearty, vegetarian comfort food dishes like this Tempeh Shepherd’s Pie, which is made with simple ingredients that are almost always stocked in my kitchen.
What is Shepherd’s Pie?
A shepherd's pie (also known as a cottage pie) is basically a savory meat pie.
All good shepherd’s pies start with mashed potatoes. I like to add plenty of garlic for flavor. The mashed potatoes are layered over a meaty “filling” usually made of ground beef. In this vegetarian version, I’m using crumbled tempeh instead.
How to Make Tempeh Shepherd's Pie
1) Make Mashed Potatoes
I like to use gold potatoes for the topping, but any type works. Quarter the potatoes and boil them for about 20 minutes, or until you can easily pierce them with a fork.
Turn off the heat, drain the liquid, and return the cooked potatoes to the pot.
Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes. (I like to keep some chunks for added texture.) Stir in a few cloves of garlic and a half-cup each of whole milk and plain Greek yogurt. This is where you get all of the flavor and creamy texture.
2) Cook the Tempeh Filling
While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the tempeh filling. I like to use a Dutch oven for this step since we’ll be finishing the tempeh shepherd’s pie in the oven. You can also use an oven-safe skillet with raised edges, such as one made of cast iron or stainless steel. (if you don’t have either, you can still make this recipe with a skillet and baking dish instead.)
Heat a little oil in your Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté the veggies—onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms. Stir in a cup of frozen peas, crumbled tempeh, vegetable broth, and tomato paste. Place a few sprigs of thyme, rosemary, and sage on top.
Increase the heat to high, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Remove the herb sprigs and spoon the mashed potatoes on top of the tempeh filling. Transfer the pot to the oven and cook 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown. I like to broil during the final five minutes to get even more browning.
How can you make this Tempeh Shepherd’s Pie vegan and dairy-free?
This recipe is naturally vegetarian, but you can also make a couple of simple swaps to make it vegan and dairy-free. Instead of whole milk, use any type of plain, unsweetened plant milk. My favorite is oat, which you can make yourself. (Just omit the strawberries, sweetener, and vanilla from this recipe.)
Instead of Greek yogurt, use a dairy-free yogurt alternative, such as coconut, soy, oat, or almond-based varieties. Any type that’s plain and unsweetened will do the trick.
Can you substitute another ingredient if you don’t have tempeh?
Instead of tempeh, try this with cooked lentils or green split peas. Any type of bean works, too.
Other potential substitutions:
- Use any type of mushroom in place of the portobello caps, even dried mushrooms can be used here (soak them in water first)
- Use frozen or canned veggies instead of fresh for the filling
- Use any type of potato in place of the gold potatoes. Even sweet potatoes would be delicious here.
- Stir dry herbs into the filling instead of using fresh sprigs
- Use garlic powder instead of fresh cloves (substitute ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder for each clove)
- Use water instead of vegetable broth, or make your own
What if you don’t have a Dutch oven?
If you don’t have a Dutch oven, sauté the vegetables and cook the tempeh filling in a large skillet. Then, transfer the filling to a baking dish and spoon the potatoes on top. Bake until the potatoes are golden brown.
Can you make Tempeh Shepherd’s Pie ahead of time?
Store leftover shepherd’s pie in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
- 6 medium yellow potatoes, cleaned and quartered
- 3 cloves garlic, grated
- ½ cup whole milk or plain unsweetened milk of choice
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt or plain unsweetened yogurt of choice
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or as needed to coat the pan
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced (reserve carrot tops for garnish if desired)
- 1 rib celery, diced
- 2 portobello mushroom caps, chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 (8-ounce) packages tempeh, crumbled
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 sprig fresh sage
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh thyme leaves
- Cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add potatoes to a large pot of boiling water and cook 20 minutes, or until you can easily pierce them with a fork. Turn off the heat, drain, and return cooked potatoes to the pot. Mash with a potato masher until potatoes reach desired consistency. (I like to keep some chunks for added texture.) Stir in garlic, milk, Greek yogurt, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash again with a potato masher to fully mix the ingredients if needed.
While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the tempeh filling. Heat grapeseed oil in a Dutch oven or oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion and cook 4 minutes, or until translucent. Stir in carrots and celery and cook 5 minutes, or until carrots begin to soften. Stir in mushrooms and cook 3 minutes, stirring often, or until the mushrooms turn dark brown. Stir in frozen peas, tempeh, vegetable broth, and tomato paste. Place sprigs of thyme, rosemary, and sage on top of the tempeh mixture. Cover, increase the heat to high, bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low-medium and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until most of the broth is absorbed.
Remove sprigs of thyme, rosemary, and sage. Taste the tempeh mixture and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Spoon the mashed potatoes on top of the tempeh mixture. Transfer to the oven and bake uncovered 30 minutes, or until the potatoes turn golden brown. To promote more browning, broil on low during the final 5 minutes of cooking if desired.
Serve with fresh thyme and cracked black pepper if desired.
Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
Vegan variation: Use plain unsweetened oat milk (or any type of dairy-free milk) instead of whole milk. Use a plain, unsweetened dairy-free yogurt alternative (such as coconut, soy, oat, or almond-based varieties) instead of Greek yogurt.
If you don’t have a Dutch oven or an oven-safe skillet, you can transfer the tempeh filling to a baking dish right before you add the potatoes and bake.
I prefer to leave the potato skins on, but you can also peel them before boiling if desired.
Recipe tested with 5% Greek yogurt.
Recipe adapted from Downshiftology.
Looking for more vegetarian comfort food?
Try these recipes:
- Slow Cooker Irish Stout Stew
- Vegan Blackberry Cobbler
- Skillet Mac and Cheese
- Vegan Corn Chowder
- Black Bean Taco Bake
- Tomato Barley Soup
- Tempeh Sheet Pan Nachos
Did you try this recipe?
Rate and leave a comment below or tag me (@GratefulGrazer) on Instagram. I'd love to hear how it went!