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Shows vegetable cottage pie made from Irish recipe

Irish Vegetable Cottage Pie

This is a fantastic vegetarian version of a traditional shepherd's or cottage pie. Instead of lamb or beef providing the protein, lentils and quinoa do. Nutritional yeast helps add umami instead of Worchestershire sauce. If you don't have butternut squash on hand, use acorn squash, sweet potato, or any other winter squash. And best of all, you can simultaneously prepare the four main ingredients (lentils, squash, mushrooms, and potatoes) to save time.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine British, Irish
Servings 6 people
Calories 397 kcal


casserole dish
Chef's knife
cutting board
iron skillet
measuring spoons
measuring cups
Potato masher or ricer


  • 1 cup Brown lentils
  • 1 small Butternut squash
  • ½ cup Quinoa
  • 1 medium Yellow onion
  • 1 cup Cremini mushrooms
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Cracked black pepper
  • 1-2 cups Vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp Nutritional yeast
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 lbs. Starchy white potatoes (russets or Idahos)
  • 4 tbsp Butter
  • ½ cup Half & half or light cream
  • ¾ tsp Kosher salt
  • ¾ tsp Cracked black pepper


  • Simultaneously prepare the lentils, butternut squash, potatoes, and mushrooms:
  • Pick through the lentils to remove debris, then rinse them thoroughly.
  • Cook the lentils in a saucepan with water until just done, about 35 minutes.
  • Peel and cube the butternut squash.
  • Put the squash cubes in a saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil, then simmer until just barely soft, about 15 minutes.
  • At the same time, rinse, peel, and chop the potatoes.
  • Put the potatoes in the larger pot, cover with water, and cook until done but not falling apart. The amount of time needed depends on the size of your potatoes chunks.
  • Simultaneously, rinse the quinoa thoroughly, then put it in a saucepan with twice as much water as quinoa, bring to a boil, lower heat to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes, remove from burner, and let sit (covered) for 10 minutes.
  • Put cooked lentils, squash, and quinoa in a bowl, and mix thoroughly.
  • Small dice the onion, and slice the mushrooms.
  • Heat the iron or other skillet over medium-high heat, adding enough oil to cover the bottom (about 1 tbsp for a 10-inch pan).
  • Sauté the onion in the oil until it softens, approximately 4 minutes.
  • Add the sliced mushrooms to the onions and continue to sauté until the mushrooms start to soften, about 3 minutes.
  • Mince the garlic, then add to the onion-mushroom mixture and continue to sauté for about 30 seconds-1 minute, or until the garlic is fragrant.
  • Add the tomato paste, lentil mixture, and enough vegetable broth to keep mixture from sticking.
  • Sprinkle the nutritional yeast, as well as 1 tsp of both salt and pepper, on the mixture, then mix well. If the mixture is very soupy, leave on simmer to reduce the sauce.
  • Drain the potatoes, then mash well. Warm the milk and butter in the microwave or on the stove, then add to the mashed potatoes along with ¾ tsp each of salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
  • Put the lentil mixture in the bottom of the casserole dish, then layer the mashed potatoes on top.
  • Finish in a 400F/200C oven for about 20 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned.
  • Serve with a simple green salad and garden peas.


Mashed Potatoes: white starchy potatoes like Idaho or russet make the best mashed potatoes. But don't overcook them. They will lose their starch and absorb too much water, which perversely makes the resulting mashed potatoes too dry. Cook until a knife or fork inserted into a piece meets no resistance. Then remove from heat and drain quickly. 
Nutritional yeast: "Nootch" is generally easy to find at grocery stores (it's usually kept with the spices). If you have difficulty, it is also available on Amazon (the link above).
Quinoa: It's important to at least rinse quinoa to avoid the bitter taste sometimes associated with it. A fine mesh colander or sieve works best. If you plan ahead, soak the quinoa in 3-4 times the amount of water overnight, or from breakfast to dinner prep time. Then drain, rinse, and use as normal.
Baking dish: You can also leave the lentil mixture in your iron skillet, add the mashed potato layer, and bake in your iron skillet. I use my iron skillet so frequently, I prefer to bake in a casserole dish so I still have use of my skillet.


Serving: 1gCalories: 397kcalCarbohydrates: 76gProtein: 17gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 893mgPotassium: 1659mgFiber: 18gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 13512IUVitamin C: 60mgCalcium: 144mgIron: 5mg
Keyword Cottage Pie, Savory Pie, Traditional Irish
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