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'Neeps and Tatties' Shepherd’s Pie A new plant-forward recipe for a favorite St. Patrick’s Day classic

Feb 29, 2024 ● By Veronica Hinke
Plated Shepherds Pie.

Photo by Veronica Hinke

St. Patrick’s Day wouldn’t be the same without shepherd’s pie. For so many years, lamb or beef was practically a requirement in this traditional dish. Those choosing not to eat meat may have had to improvise on many classic holiday dishes. But that’s all changing. Now there are more and more recipes for plant-forward meals for events of all kinds including the celebration of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

In this new plant-based recipe, lentils are the key to a savory shepherd’s pie, as they get simmered low and slow in a “jammy” tomato broth. The traditional topping of mashed potatoes also gets a new plant-forward twist with creamy and nutritious turnips blended in with the spuds.

Photo by Veronica Hinke

Potatoes and turnips—or “neeps and tatties”, as the customary Scottish side dish is called—is a delicious blend of flavor and nutrition. Potatoes are full of health benefits. Not only do they provide fiber, they are high in potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, niacin, folate and vitamins B6 and C. Turnips provide potassium, magnesium, fiber, iron, calcium and vitamins B6, C and D. What’s more, with their soft and delicate yet vibrant hues of lavender, turnips add a delight to food shopping and presentation.

From bright red bell peppers to cheerful yellow corn kernels, there’s plenty of color in the filling of this shepherd’s pie. This recipe also includes the traditional shepherd’s pie vegetable mix of peas, beans and carrots. If available, fresh pearl onions are a perfect addition. Add other favorite vegetables like chopped fresh sweet potato, butternut squash or fennel for even more flavorful and nutritional goodness. Cumin, dry ground mustard, paprika or other favorite seasonings add depth to the flavor complexity.

Using a large star-tipped pastry bag to pipe the neeps and tatties onto the vegetable and lentil base in star-shaped dollops adds interest when serving. The little potato and turnip puffs cover the top of the shepherd’s pie almost like tater tots on a casserole.          

A sprinkle of tiny leaves of fresh thyme on top adds bits of flavor and a fresh pop of green color.

Photo by Veronica Hinke


'Neeps and Tatties' Shepherd’s Pie

Yield: 12 servings

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped

1 cup pearl onions, peeled and left whole

5-oz tomato paste (or 1 tube)

½ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt

½ tsp freshly ground multicolor peppercorns 

1 cup corn, frozen or cut from a cob

1 cup frozen or fresh peas

1 cup carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup frozen French-cut green beans

2 large red bell peppers, trimmed and chopped

½ cup fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped

2 cups raw brown or green lentils, rinsed

2½ cups vegetable broth

¼ tsp cumin powder

¼ tsp dry ground mustard

¼ tsp paprika

2 small turnips

3 medium russet potatoes

2 Tbsp vegan butter

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

In a large (15-inch) cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil.

Add the onions and garlic and sauté them until they are just lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomato paste. Add all of the vegetables except the turnips and potatoes. Stir the ingredients in the skillet until they are covered with the tomato paste. Add the salt and pepper.

Add the broth and lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat a little and add the cumin, dry ground mustard and paprika. Simmer until the lentils become tender, about 35-40 minutes. Stir occasionally.    

While the base is simmering, make the neeps and tatties. In a large pot over high heat, boil the turnips and potatoes until they are tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.

When the turnips and potatoes are fork-tender, drain them and set them aside to cool. When they are cool enough to touch, peel and chop them into 1-inch pieces.

Add the vegan butter. Using a potato masher, mash the turnips and potatoes together with the vegan butter until the mixture is well blended. 

Using a large star-tipped pastry bag, pipe the neeps and tatties onto the vegetable and lentil base in a pretty, inviting pattern of star-shaped dollops.

Bake in the oven until the tops of the potatoes are browned, about 40-45 minutes.      

Veronica Hinke is an author, speaker, journalist, coach and expert on early 20th-century drinking, dining and style. She is the author of The Last Night on the Titanic: Unsinkable Drinking, Dining and Style; Titanic: The Official Cookbook; Harry Potter: Afternoon Tea Magic; and The Great Gatsby Cooking and Entertainment Guide. Learn more at