{Lazy} Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

The way we keep track of and catalogue recipes has changed remarkably over the last twenty odd years. When I was younger – and for generations preceding mine – recipe boxes were the standard system of organization. I distinctly remember the one in our household, made of a vintage plastic and stuffed to the gills with well worn index cards and recipes clipped from newspapers and magazines. The recipe box method offered a tangible, phsyical artifact – but this artifact was at the mercy of being lost, destroyed or stolen. When a recipe box disappears, a lot of history and tradition necessarily disappear with it.


These days things are different – with more people going online to source recipes, the recipe box has become somewhat obsolete. Larger sites like Epicurious and Martha Stewart allow you to save favourite recipes to a digital recipe box, which is handy (unless you’re like me and can never remember the password for your account). But what if you visit a number of different sites and blogs to access recipes? What’s the best way to stay organized then?


Pinterest offers a decent solution – whenever I come across a recipe I like I automatically pin it to one of my boards. But seeing as all it takes is a click of a button to pin a recipe, I tend to go overboard – meaning I have hundreds (possibly thousands) of recipes pinned, and the ones I’ve tried and liked tend to get lost in the morass. And what to do with the recipes my mum emails to me – the ones I intend to try at some point in the future? With so much of our recipe-sourcing happening online, how do our favourites – the tried and true recipes we go back to time and time again – get passed along to subsequent generations now that handwritten recipe cards are mostly a thing of the past?


I suppose we could print our favourite recipes and store them somewhere for posterity – a nice idea, but one that smacks of something I’d probably never get around to doing. I’m not particularly technologically inclined, so maybe a solution already exists to these questions and I’m just not aware of it. Regardless, in the coming years it will be interesting to see how recipes get passed down through generations, and whether this happens as regularly as it once did.


I bring all this up because a variation of this shepherd’s pie recipe once existed in handwritten form – likely copied from a newspaper or magazine and mailed to me by my mum 10 or so years ago. This is probably the last time I recall receiving a hard copy of a recipe from anyone – after that the Internet took over and we began emailing recipes back and forth. It’s for this reason that this recipe is a favourite of mine – that and the fact that it’s relatively quick and easy to prepare, and a consistent crowd pleaser for vegetarians and omnivores alike. I’ve made several changes to the original recipe over the years – specifically, adding veggies where there once were none – but the secret ingredient has remained unchanged: a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup – fancy, I know – but it does a winning job of moistening up and adding flavour to the veggie ground round base. With a smashed potato topping this shepherd’s pie is the ideal mid-Winter dish. Serve with a side salad and/or sourdough rolls and you’re good to go 🙂

Recipe: {Lazy} Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Makes 6 servings


For smashed potato topping:

  • 18-20 white and/or red mini potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the ground round base:

  • 340g package of vegetarian ground round
  • 284ml can of condensed cream of mushroom soup (I used the low fat variety)
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (plus more for garnish)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Prepare smashed potato topping: Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are tender all the way through, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and return potatoes to saucepan. Using a potato masher, mash potatoes until broken into small pieces. Put saucepan over low heat and add butter/margarine and milk. Stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare ground round base: In a casserole dish (the one I used is about 9″ in diameter and 5″ deep), heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot, carrot, celery and green pepper and saute until tender. Add garlic and saute just until garlic is golden brown. Add paprika, cumin, coriander and cayenne and stir until spices coat other ingredients. Add crumbled ground round and fresh parsley and fold to combine. Add water and stir until everything is thoroughly combined.

Finish shepherd’s pie: Preheat oven to 350F. Spoon smashed potato topping on top of ground round base and spread out evenly. Sprinkle grated cheese on top of potatoes. Place casserole in oven until warmed through and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Set oven to broil and cook for another 10 minutes, or until cheese on top has browned. Remove from oven.

Serve, topping each portion with fresh parsley and freshly ground black pepper. Eat!

24 thoughts on “{Lazy} Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

  1. I love going through my mom and grandma’s recipe boxes! They are/were meticulous organizers with tidy handwriting and noted who the recipe was from. Wonderful family history. For me, I know I will lose all those little cards no matter what, so I have a notebook I copy favorite recipes into, or sometimes print them out and paste them it. I am terrified of having my computer in the kitchen with me!

    • Wow, that’s cool your mum and grandma are so organized. It’s particularly nice knowing where each recipe came from! I like your notebook idea – I used to print out recipes and put them in a binder but I stopped doing that a few years ago. Now I just use my laptop in the kitchen – keeping it a safe distance from the stove and sink of course! I still manage to get dirty fingerprints on it though 😦

  2. I am going to try and make a vegan version of this over the weekend. I am currently in Q-end hell and didn’t have time to food shop last week so I made a slap-dashed Chickpea Vindaloo with Brown Rice and Rye Berries… I have enough to cover me through tomorrow and then I’m out of luck for meals. 😦
    To that end, I need something warm and satisfying because temps here in Boston are freezing!!!!!!! Today was 11 degrees in Boston and tomorrow it is supposed to be even colder (yikes!). Not sure about next week’s weather — however, with all that said, Q-end won’t end for me until 1/31… so I need to make something quick, easy to carry me through the remaining Q-end hell. 🙂
    Wish me luck and thanks for sharing such great recipes. 🙂

  3. Hi Hannah, This looks heavenly! Thanks for putting words to a common, but generally unspoken, generational shift, and for putting your family recipe here for us to enjoy this sophisticated twist on a comforting dish, hopefully for generations to come!

  4. AHHHHH! I have to try this! See, I really wish I could be a vegetarian, as my taste and desire for meat has dwindled as I get older. This looks like something even my meat-loving family can enjoy! And if it says lazy, I’m all in! I was thinking on going to school in British Columbia, or possibly living there in general… any recommendations or anything to say about the area? It looks like one of the most beautiful places to be on this planet! Again, lovely post! ~ nerdwithtaste.wordpress.com

    • A lot of people I know say the same thing – that as they get older they want to eat meat less and less. This recipe is definitely a good one for both herbivores and carnivores – my boyfriend is a meat eater and loves it, so I make it for him regularly 🙂

      There are lots of great things about BC! I just lived in the Okanagan (in the interior of the province) for 6 months and loved it. There are tons of lakes to take advantage of in the Summer, and in the Winter there are a couple of big ski hills, if you’re into that sort of thing. Now we’re back in Vancouver – it’s a great city but the cost of living is very high, especially downtown.

      Is there anywhere in particular you’d like to live? What are you planning on studying at school? Your blog is lovely, by the way 🙂

  5. Your dishes look wonderful and healthy you will have to teach me. I am strongly thinking of dumping the wheat and trying to cut out meat.

  6. Pingback: Vegan [no oil] Train Wreck Shepherd’s Pie (?) | GiRRL_Earth

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