Think of it: You don’t have to use potatoes in Shepherd’s Pie

January 20, 2017

Healthy Shepherd's Pie from Providence Health

By Kay MacInnis, Registered Dietitian

Stepping outside the box and trying something different to improve your health is not always easy. But just make up your mind and go for it!

Whether it’s exercising or eating healthy, it requires a certain amount of experimentation and learning what you are willing to live with. Be adventurous: Try some new or different ingredients in an old favorite. Modify one or two ingredients at a time until you have a healthier option.

This recipe substitutes lentils and rutabagas in place of the meat and potatoes that everyone assumes a Shepherd’s Pie must contain. The lentils are a great source of fiber and protein, while low in Calories and fat. One cup of cooked lentils provides about 230 Calories – try using them in other old favorites!

Shepherd’s Pie


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ cup shallots, diced
  • 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 cup green lentils, dry
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp. parsley, chopped
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 4 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 medium rutabagas, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch


  • In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat until hot.
  • Add shallots and sauté about 2 minutes until translucent and lightly golden.
  • Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, stirring frequently for about a minute.
  • Add lentils, carrots, celery leaves, peas, parsley, thyme, black pepper and vegetable stock to the Dutch oven. Stir with spoon to combine.
  • Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1 hour, or until lentils are tender.
  • While the lentil mixture is simmering, place rutabaga in large saucepan and cover completely with water.
  • Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes, until tender.
  • Drain the rutabaga using a colander and return to the saucepan.
  • Add salt and mash rutabaga until smooth. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and about 4 tablespoons of lentil cooking liquid until completely combined.
  • Add the cornstarch slurry to the lentils and boil for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.
  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
  • Using a clean large spoon, scoop and spread mashed rutabagas on top of the cooked lentil mixture in the Dutch oven, creating a thick layer that completely covers the lentils.
  • Place on middle oven rack and cook for about 30 minutes, until lentil mixture is bubbling and mashed rutabagas are slightly crispy.

Nutrition information: 218 Calories, 4 grams fat, 0 mg. cholesterol, 347 mg. sodium, 37 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams protein.

Recipe developed by McKenzie Hall.


This is another in a weekly series of healthy recipes from Kay MacInnis, registered dietitian at Providence Health in Columbia, S.C.

Kay promotes health and wellness, helping cardiac and diabetes patients eat their way to healthier lives. She works in consultation with the trained chefs at Providence, combining her nutrition knowledge with their food prep know-how to create delicious, healthy dishes for patients and the public. She also conducts a number of health and wellness events for the public, including the monthly Providence Cooks! classes.

"She doesn't just give you the fish, she teaches you how to cook it."

 – a Kay MacInnis fan and Providence Cooks! regular.