Chuck Hughes’s Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

At my restaurant Garde Manger we have a staff meal every night, and we all sit down together before the restaurant opens. The vegetarians sometimes used to get a rough deal, so this is one of the recipes I made with them in mind.

By using lentils instead of meat, you can pack in a good amount of protein and give the dish a heartiness that both meat eaters and non-meat eaters really enjoy. The ketchup on the side is a Quebec classic-all good Quebecois grandmothers make homemade fruit ketchup in the fall and it goes perfectly with shepherd’s pie.

Chuck Hughes (Host of the Food Network show Chuck’s Week Off and chef-owner of Garde-manger and Le Bremmner in Old Montreal)

Number of servings : 8

Prep time: 3+ hours

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Type of meal : | Main Courses | Main Courses

Special diet : | Vegetarian


Roasted Squash and Roasted Garlic:
1 head garlic
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 spaghetti squash (2 ½ lb/1.25 kg)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bread Crumbs:
2 cups (500 mL) dry bread crumbs
1 cup (250 mL) milk 1/4 cup (50 mL) pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp (15 mL) each fresh basil, thyme and flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Mashed Potatoes:
6 unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes (2 lb/1 kg), boiled
1 cup (250 mL) 35% whipping cream
1/2 cup (125 mL) soft goat cheese
1/4 cup (50 mL) butter, melted salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Vegetable Mixture:
2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots (8 oz/250 g), chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
9 cups (2.25 L) mixed and wild mushrooms (such as cremini, lobster, morel, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms), sliced
1 cup (250 mL) dried Du Puy lentils, cooked

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fried shallots for garnish, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
  2. For the roasted squash and roasted garlic: Trim off top of garlic to expose cloves; drizzle with 1 tsp (5 mL) of the olive oil. Wrap in foil and set aside. Cut spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds. Drizzle with remaining 2 tsp (10 mL) olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Place the squash on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet, flesh-side down and bake for 2 hours, adding garlic to tray halfway through baking. Let both cool enough to handle. Using a fork, scrape spaghetti squash strands into a bowl. In a separate small bowl, squeeze out garlic cloves. Set both bowls aside.
  3. For the bread crumbs: In a medium bowl, mix bread crumbs with milk. Let stand for 5 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Mix in pine nuts, eggs, basil, thyme and parsley. Set aside.
  4. For the mashed potatoes: Mash the potatoes with the cream, goat cheese, butter and roasted garlic purée until smooth; season with salt and pepper.
  5. For the vegetable mixture: Heat 2 tbsp (25 mL) oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté onions, carrots and celery over medium heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and mushrooms and continue cooking until golden brown, with most of the liquid evaporated, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cooked lentils and bread-crumb mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  6. Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C). In an 8 x 11-inch (1.5-L) baking dish, spoon in mushroom mixture, spreading evenly. Layer with spaghetti squash, followed by a layer of mashed potatoes, and smooth top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbling and top is slightly browned. Garnish with fried shallots, if using, and serve with homemade ketchup.

For Grandma’s Homemade Ketchup

2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 peach, peeled and diced
6 vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 2 lb/1 kg)
½ cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar
½ cup (125 mL) cider vinegardash of Tabasco sauce
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
½ tsp (2 mL) chili flakes
salt and pepper to taste


In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, apples and peach, frying until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar, Tabasco sauce, cinnamon, cloves and chili flakes. Season with salt and pepper; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered and stirring often, for about 1 hour, or until thickened and reduced by half. Let cool.

(Photo: Hans Laurendeau/, Food and Props Styling: Gabrielle Dalessandro)

Nutritional information: