Lentil Butternut Shepherd's Pie

Hold onto your tastebuds! Because this casserole is just loaded with flavor. And the best part about it? It is SO EASY to make and has very few ingredients. In fact, the butternut topping is just… butternut squash. Naked and wonderful. Butternut squash has so much flavor all on its own that I really wanted it to stand out in this dish. And stand out it did. I puréed it for this recipe but I think next time I will just mash it because it was rather loose. Mashing would give it more substance, like the traditional mashed potatoes that usually adorn a Shepherd's Pie.

The history Shepherd's Pie dates back to the introduction of potatoes in England. Potatoes were first introduced to Europe in 1520 by the Spanish and were not popular in Britain until the 18th Century. Shepherd's Pie was traditionally made using lamb, while Cottage Pie is made with beef. Both are topped with mashed potatoes and this was probably invented sometime in the 18th Century by frugal peasant housewives looking for creative ways to serve leftover meat to their families. It is generally agreed that Shepherd's Pie originated in the north of England and Scotland where there are large numbers of sheep—hence the name.

Believe it or not, I still have a horde of butternuts in my basement from my garden last year! They are storing well down there. But it was great to be able to use a few of them for this dish. Here is the easy recipe:

  • 2 cups lentils
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 diced onion
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 TBS Spike salt-free seasoning
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 TBS nutritional yeast
  • 6-8 cups roasted butternut squash (about 2 medium-sized squash) The measurement here need not be exact. You just want enough to cover the lentils in the casserole dish you will be using.

  1. Simmer the lentils with the water, onion and spices until all the water is absorbed. I covered mine to start, then removed the lid when the lentils were tender to allow the excess water to cook off.
  2. To roast the squash: Preheat oven to 425° F. Slice squash lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Place into a baking dish, cut side down, and roast until tender. A fork should glide easily into the squash when it's done. Mine took about 45 minutes. 
  3. When it's cool enough to handle, scrape out the flesh of the squash and mash it well. 
  4. Remove the bay leaves from the lentils, add the nutritional yeast and stir well to combine. Spread the lentils in the bottom of a lightly oiled casserole dish. Top with the mashed squash. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350° F until bubbly.

Serves 6. Enjoy!

LOVE me, don't eat me!

Healthy trails,

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