Vegetarian shepherd's pie (with vegan option)

Shepherd’s pie with pumpkin mash topping

Has autumnal weather reached you in your part of the world? In Malta, the weather is slightly cooler but still fairly warm … typical! Having said that, at the farmers’ market, pumpkins and squash are in abundance.

Do you find pumpkins aesthetically pleasing? Could it be their connotations with jack-o’-lanterns? Or is it their rich, warm colour which makes them appealing to look at?

In my mind, pumpkins (oh, by the way, pumpkins are a type of squash) project an image of warmth and comfort.

The soup season in Colette’s kitchen is invariably inaugurated with a pumpkin soup of sorts. This year it was a curried roasted butternut squash soup which I promise to bring to this blog next time I’ll cook it.

Pumpkin makes for a perfect ingredient in sweet and savoury dishes alike. You can use it in muffins, cookies, soups, pies, salads, casseroles and tagines.

Pumpkin is relatively inexpensive and a pumpkin-based meal is usually kind to your pocket.  Above all, pumpkin provides you with a good source of dietary fibre, vitamins (A, E, B6, riboflavin, niacin, thiamine and C), minerals (iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese) as well as folate.

In the recipe below, I used mashed pumpkin as a topping for my vegetarian shepherd’s pie. I added two potatoes to the pumpkin to help bind the consistency as pumpkin tends to be watery.

This recipe is my contribution to The Recipe ReDux community. Please check out the linky at the bottom of this page for plenty of delicious recipes shared by other bloggers.

Shepherd's pie with pumpkin mash
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 30 mins
Resting time
30 mins
Total Time
2 hrs

Pumpkin is a versatile vegetable which lends itself suitable for both savoury and sweet recipes. In this vegetarian version of shepherd's pie, I used pumpkin mash to give my pie a warm, seasonal feel.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: fusion, Plant-based, vegetarian
Keyword: grains, pie, pulses, pumpkin, quinoa
Servings: 6 people
Author: Colette Cumbo
  • 1400 grms pumpkin
  • 2 potatoes (medium sized)
  • pumpkin spice
  • 150 grms feta cheese (optional)
  • 3/4 cup green lentils (rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa (trio - white, red and black) (rinsed)
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley (rinsed)
  • 1 onion (large) (chopped)
  • 2 carrots (chopped)
  • 2 zucchini (chopped)
  • 1 cauliflower (small) (cut into florets)
  • 3/4 cup garden peas (frozen - slightly defrosted)
  • 1 red chilli pepper (ribs and seeds removed)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (ribs and seeds removed)
  • 4 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder (mild)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  1. Prepare the grains and pulses: bring a medium-sized pot of water to the boil and put in the lentils and barley. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

  2. After 10 minutes increase the heat again and add the quinoa. Bring back to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and drain in a colander. Put the cooked grains and pulses to one side.

  3. Next prepare the mash. Cut the pumpkin into wedges, then cut further into chunks. Remove the strings and the seeds and peel. Rinse and pat dry. 

  4. Scrub the potatoes under running water (do not remove the skins) and cut into chunks.

  5. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes. Boil for 8 minutes then add the pumpkin chunks. (You may add a teaspoon of cooking salt - I prefer not to). Cover and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Pierce chunks with a fork to check if they're cooked (do not over-cook cause they fall apart). When  potato and pumpkin chunks are soft, turn off the heat and drain the water. Leave  to drain for at least 30 minutes.

  6. In the meantime, prepare the rest of the pie filling. In a large skillet or similar, heat the oil and saute the chopped onion until translucent and slightly soft. Add the chopped chillies, crushed garlic, chilli powder, ground cumin and cayenne pepper (if using). Stir gently to avoid sticking. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant.

  7. Add the chopped carrots, zucchini and cauliflower florets. Stir well so that the vegetables are coated with the onion mixture. Add one cupful of vegetable broth, stir, bring to the boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes, or  until carrots are cooked. (Do not over-cook. Vegetables will cook further during baking).

  8. Add the grains, pulses and garden peas to the skillet and mix well to ensure the grains are thoroughly coated with the spicy onion and vegetable mixture. Leave uncovered and simmer gently for further 8-10 minutes or until the broth is  completely absorbed. When the grain and vegetable filling is dry, turn off the heat and leave to rest until you prepare the mash for the topping.

  9. Gently squeeze out excess water from the pumpkin and put it in a food processor, together with the potato chunks. Whizz until smooth. Add the pumpkin spices (1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp ground cloves) and whizz again to make sure the spices are blended into the pumpkin mash. (If your mash is a bit watery add I tsp of cornstarch blended into 1 tsp water and stir into the pumpkin mash. This helps the mash to thicken).

  10. Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Prepare a large casserole dish (3.85 ltr). Brush the inside of the dish lightly with olive oil and spread the grain and vegetable mixture evenly across the dish. Top the vegetable mixture with the pumpkin mash and even out on the pie filling. If you are using feta cheese, crumble on top. (For a vegan version, omit the feta cheese). 

  11. Bake in a hot oven for 30 minutes or until a crust begins to form. When you turn off the oven, leave the pie to rest in the oven for a further 30 minutes for the pumpkin mash to dry and set completely.

Recipe Notes

This pie can be eaten warm or at room temperature. You will notice that the cooler it gets, the easier it is to cut without the filling falling apart.

The pie contains enough vegetables. Unless you really want to add a side of veg or salad, the pie has all the nutritional value of a full meal. 


Published by

Colette Cumbo

Welcome to my little corner on the world wide web from where I share my cooking experiences with you. My home country is Malta – a tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean. In 2016 I created this space as part of a web writing course assignment. But, in no time, it evolved into a little place from where I share with you nutrition tips as well as recipes for you to try out and enjoy. Read more…

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