Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie and Wedding Traditions


A vegetable forward twist on a classic winter dish, this vegetarian shepherd’s pie features leeks and white beans with cabbage and carrots. All topped with garlic and chive mashed potatoes.

There are few things I appreciate more than food, really nerdy things, and the intersection of the two. I’d draw you a Venn diagram but I’d rather focus on one specific intersection: pie and π. We got married on pi day, which meant we fully embraced all the possibilities of pie. To be honest, we both like pie a whole lot more than cake so banana cream pies were a no brainer for dessert. But we also had pizza pie pinwheels, mini quiche, pot pie and shepherd’s pie. It was glorious.

We always have dessert pie for our anniversary. In fact, last year we had an impromptu sharing of pies at the climbing gym with other people celebrating pi day. But this year I wanted to incorporate something savory. The vegetarian shepherd’s pie from our wedding was so good, I decided to recreate one for pi day.

The filling in this vegetarian shepherd’s pie features leeks and white beans. When using leeks, trim off the dark green parts and use the white and light green parts only (the part that is the most cylindrical). Be sure to wash them thoroughly; lots of grit tends to accumulate in the neck of the leek due to how it grows. I slice the leeks first, then soak them in a bowl of water before draining.

Cabbage, mushrooms, and carrots round out the the savory filling. (If you  need other cabbage ideas, this roasted cabbage wedge salad is fantastic.) This stuffing does not have as much gravy as other recipes. As a result, it is lighter, with more texture and just as delicious. My favorite part of this pie, however, is the mashed potato topping. We don’t make mashed potatoes often (sometimes not even for Thanksgiving!) but these are so good. They’re rich without needing heavy cream or a lot of butter. The key is to cook the garlic in butter and milk before incorporating into the cooked potatoes. The chives add a lovely flavor and a beautiful green speckle to the potatoes.

Happy pi day to all the other squares like me celebrating specific attributes of circles (thanks, SomeEcards)! And happy anniversary to my constant whose love is irrational and unending <3.

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

A vegetable forward twist on classic shepherd’s pie, this vegetarian version features leeks and white beans with cabbage and carrots. All topped with garlic and chive mashed potatoes.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings


Mashed Potato Topping

  • 2 to 3 russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives

Shepherd’s Pie Filling

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 whole leeks, trimmed, chopped and washed
  • 1 1/2 cup diced mushrooms
  • 1 cup finely shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 14.5-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth


Make the Mashed Potato Topping

  1. In a medium saucepan, add diced potatoes and salt and water until potatoes are just covered. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to simmer and cook 10 to 15 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add garlic and milk and let cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Or, place butter, garlic and milk in a microwave safe container and microwave for about 30 seconds to melt butter and slightly cook garlic.
  3. When potatoes are cooked, drain them and return the potatoes to the medium sauce pan. Mash with fork or masher, and stir in warm garlic mixture, pepper and fresh chives until well combined.

Make Shepherd’s Pie Filling, Assemble and Cook

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. While potatoes are simmering, melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onion, salt and pepper. Stir well and cook 3 to 5 minutes until onions are slightly translucent.
  3. Stir in leeks and mushrooms and let cook 5 to 8 minutes until leeks are wilted and mushrooms are browning.
  4. Add in cabbage, carrots, thyme, white beans and broth. Simmer 5 to 8 minutes until carrots are just tender. Remove from heat and transfer to a deep pie pan or baking dish.
  5. Spoon mashed potatoes over the filling, and spread to create an even crust over the filling.
  6. Bake in the oven 15 to 20 minutes, until potatoes begin to brown.
  7. Let cool slightly before serving.

Recipe Notes


Baby those potatoes! Over boiling and quick mashing from mixers can cause them to be gluey rather than light and fluffy due to the breakdown of starches. Peeling the potatoes is entirely optional, depending on how you prefer your mashed potatoes. But if you do peel them as suggested in the recipe, save the potato skins for a delicious snack and reduce food waste.


Swap the butter for olive oil or a vegan butter and the milk for a plain nut milk such as almond milk.


Use a homemade chicken or vegetable stock instead of store bought or make your own vegetable bouillon. You can make your own white beans on the stovetop or in a slow cooker.


Other greens such as kale or collards can be used in place of the cabbage in this shepherd's pie. Parsnips or rutabaga would easily replace the carrots but you may need to adjust the simmering time. Don’t have white beans? Veggie protein crumbles or vegetarian sausage would be a good replacement. Or try it with cooked chickpeas or lentils.

Let me know if you try this recipe! Leave a comment below 🙂



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