The many Shepards pies I ate during my childhood have nothing on this vegetarian version, which is packed with nutrient-filled ingredients like spinach, sweet potato and quinoa. Co-conut oil is the trendy new health ingredient but, fads aside, I use for its exotic sweet flavour and the silky texture it lends to the sweet potato mash.


  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1 celery stick, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
  • 3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
  • 500g mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 75ml red wine
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 250g quinoa
  • 2 x 400g tins Puy lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 250g spinach
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 red onions, finely sliced


  1. Melt the coconut oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and thyme and cook for 4 –5 minutes, or until softened.Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 2–3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour in the wine, vegetable stock, quinoa and lentils and simmer for 15 minutes until reduced. Stir in the spinach until just wilted.Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Steam the sweet potato in a metal steamer set over a pan of simmering water until it is tender and can be pierced easily with a fork.
  4. Melt half the coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the red onions.Turn the heat down low, season with salt and pepper and cook gently, strring occasionally until softened and caramelised, about 8 –10 minutes. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan).
  5. Place the sweet potato in a bowl with the remaining coconut oil and mash until smooth. Season to taste and then stir through the caramelised red onions.
  6. Transfer the lentil mixture to an ovenproof baking dish and add the sweet potato mash over the top in dollops and spread out evenly across the pie. Place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes until lightly golden. Serve warm from the oven with a green salad.