vegan lentil shepherd's pie
Main dish

Vegan lentil shepherd’s pie (pâté chinois)

This vegan lentil shepherd’s pie is so delicious with the addition of an extra creamy corn layer to the classic dish. Plus, it’s nutritious, freezer-friendly and a kid’s favorite.

As you probably know, I am from Quebec, Canada. This means I grew up eating lots of classic French Canadian dishes, often containing meat, like meat pies (tourtière), beef meatball stew, boeuf bourguignon, chicken pot pies, etc. I think us, people from Quebec, are pretty darn experts in very cozy comfort food!

So, to help me feel like I’m home, I work very hard on trying to reproduce those classic dishes in a healthy plant based way. Pâté chinois is a staple in our house so I wanted it to be one of my first recipes I share!

This dish has quite a funny French name though as it has no chinese flavor at all. Pâté chinois was a common dish that was made by chinese cooks for the Canadian workers that was building the North American railroads in the 19th. century. The Chinese cooks were instructed to prepare this meal as it was an inexpensive, filling and easy. The Canadian workers kept the recipe as a traditional meal that they brought back to their families and it is now a common dish French Canadian eat.

A pâté chinois looks a lot like a shepherd’s pie, but with an additional corn layer in between the base and the mashed potatoes.

There are a lot of vegetarian pâté chinois recipes out there, but this is my personal version I often make for my family. It’s always a hit when having guests over and kids love it!

What is in this vegan lentil shepherd’s pie

The base
The beef bottom layer is often replaced by cooked lentils for a vegetarian version as it mimics well the crumbly texture of meat.

I like to also add mushrooms, chopped pretty small, for extra chewy feeling. Then, all sort of vegetables and spices can be added, but I prefer the classic onion-carrot-celery that often find its way in classic Quebec meat mixtures.

The middle
Well, what else could be better than creamy but also crispy sweet corn for this in between layer?

In Quebec, we eat corn by the dozen, as a single ingredient meal. Talk about easy meal planning! I still remember my sister when we were teenager who would eat 10 cobs in one meal. We also gather all together during what we call “Épluchette de blé d’inde”, then cook corn often outside in the yard in an enormous pot that is heated with fire. And thats usually all we eat (although more recently often combined with BBQ grilling). We are very simple people, you know.

Anyway, corn in this case is totally a star as it brings all the dish together. Let me tell you, the sweetness and unique texture of this middle layer will make all the shepherd’s pies in your future quite unexciting.

The top
A classic creamy silky mashed potatoes is a must here. The idea is to make it as smooth as you can, using a mixer if you want. I like to use a bit of butter to make it extra decadent and a touch of nutritional yeast to get a tiny cheesy richness.

If you have extra time and want to make this dish extra special, cover the potato layer with a homemade BBQ ketchup before putting the dish in the oven.

Also, this meal freezes perfectly! I ALWAYS make double batch, cook both dishes in the oven, and freeze the second one in individual portions after it has cooled down. Then, I use it for lunches or quick dinners and it feels like I just made it.

I hope you will love this meal as much as we do! If you try it, please leave a comment to let me know how it was.

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Vegan lentil shepherd’s pie (Pâté chinois)

Vegan adaptation from a famous sheperd's pie from Quebec, this nutritious dish is a perfect cozy crowd pleaser. Freezer-friendly and kids love it!
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French canadian
Keyword: Vegan
Servings: 4
Author: plantbasedjess

Ingredients

For the base:

  • 1 cup dried du puy (french) or green lentils
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 8 oz mushrooms chopped
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder (or corn starch)

For the middle layer:

  • 16 oz frozen sweet yellow corn thawed
  • 1/4 cup water

For the top layer:

  • 8 yukon potatoes peeled
  • 2 tbsp nutritionnal yeast
  • 1/2 cup almond milk or to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter optional

Instructions

For the base:

  • In a small pot, combine the dried lentils with 3 cup of water, bring to a boil then turn down the heat enough to keep it simmering for about 20 minutes. You want to cook the lentils through, but still keep them in their shape (avoid mushy texture).
  • In a large pan, cook the onion, carrots and celery on medium heat until the vegetables are tender. Use a bit of oil or water to keep the vegetables from sticking to the pan.
  • Add the mushroom and garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the cooked lentils, frozen green peas and oregano to the pan and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, combine together the broth, the soy sauce and the arrowroot powder. Mix gently until you don't see any clumps anymore.
  • Add the broth mixture to the pan with the vegetables and mix well for 2 minutes until the mixture thicken. Adjust the seasoning.
  • Remove from the heat and set aside.

For the middle layer:

  • Blend half of the corn with the water in a blender until it become creamy.
  • Mix the creamy corn with the whole kernel (the other half of the corn) in a small bowl and set aside.

For the top layer:

  • Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling water until they become tender but before they fall apart (about 20 minutes).
  • Drain with a colander and make sure to remove as much water as you can. Put the potatoes back in the pot.
  • Add the vegan butter, nutritionnal yeast, almond milk, salt and pepper to the pot with the potatoes and mash well until creamy.

Build the pâté chinois:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°.
  • In the bottom of an oven safe dish (I like to use individual dish but a larger container works well too), distribute the base mixture on an even layer.
  • Top with the corn mixture making sure to spread it around up to the corners.
  • Top with the mashed potatoes, also spreading it to the edges.
  • Cook, uncovered, in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the dish is bubbling on the edges and the top seems a bit caramelized.

You can cover the shepherd's pie with an easy to make homemade BBQ ketchup before putting the dish in the oven.

    2 Comments

    • nancy

      5 stars
      This is so good. I made it for the third time tonight. I divide it into 2 dishes as there are only 2 of us. I freeze the second dish and it is just as good as the first one when I take it out later and cook it.

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