Shepherd’s pie often requires two pots cooking on the stove at once, but the Instant Pot makes this dish super streamlined. This vegetarian version is loaded with comforting vegetables and protein-packed lentils, which are then topped with fluffy mashed cauliflower for a lighter meal. Because red lentils cook so quickly, they dissolve and naturally thicken the gravy for the filling—without the need for flour or butter.
Prep: 15 minutes
Pressurize: 6 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Natural Release: 10 minutes
Total: 36 minutes
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
½ cup red lentils
1 cup water
1½ cups cooked chickpeas , or one 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound cauliflower, cut into small florets
Fresh rosemary or thyme sprigs, for garnish
1 Combine the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, mushrooms, red lentils, water, chickpeas, thyme, rosemary, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of pepper in the Instant Pot and give it a stir.
2 Arrange a 2.5-inch trivet over the vegetables and place a 7-inch oven-safe bowl on top. Add the cauliflower to the bowl. Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing . Select Manual/Pressure Cook to cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.
3 When the cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then move the steam release valve to Venting to release any remaining pressure. When the floating valve drops, remove the lid and use oven mitts to lift the trivet and the bowl out of the pot.
4 Stir the filling at the bottom of the pot. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. The lentils should dissolve into the sauce as you stir, thickening it. Pour the cooked cauliflower into a large bowl and use a fork or potato masher to mash it until smooth. Generously season the mash with salt and pepper.
5 To serve, spoon the warm filling into bowls and top each with mashed cauliflower. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs and a final grind of pepper. Store leftovers in two separate airtight containers—for the filling and the cauliflower mash—in the fridge for 5 days.