It only took near exactly 365 days.  Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.  Fifty-two weeks.  Myriad daylights, sunsets, midnights, cups of coffee…however you want to measure.

But my brother has finally come around to the vegetarian thing.

And by that I mean, the last time I saw him (on my birthday) he only brought it up with disgust and disdain a mere less-than-ten times! That’s a world record for him.  Usually we’re in the triple digits.


And…he bought me a vegetarian cookbook.  A real one.  With exactly zero meat in it.

Sure, it has the word “meat lover” in the title…but that is the only place where any animal products or references appear in the entire book.

I’m so proud.


To celebrate his transition from conscientious objector and disapprover to enabler extraordinaire…I obviously had to make something from the cookbook.  (Positive reinforcement, etc.)

And since, last time I checked (i.e. a mere 24 hours ago) it was 30 degrees outside and still, in fact, winter (not that today’s weather reflects that….), I flipped open the cookbook to the “winter foods” section.  Closed my eyes.  And pointed.

(My recipe selection process is highly scientific and definitely not left up to chance at all ever.)

(Except for…all the time.)

Fate (and my pointer finger) led me to this shepherd’s pie with chard-lentil filling and I couldn’t be happier.  The wine-braised lentil/swiss chard filling was tasty enough that you just don’t even think to miss the beef, and the mashed potato topping hit all those comfort food notes without being overly heavy.

And then there was the onion gravy.  I could write an ode to that gravy.  Even if you don’t make a single other component to this recipe…make that gravy and eat it while standing over the stove, straight out of the pan.  All of it. In one sitting.  And then do it again.  That’s the highly scientifically proven right way to do it.  I swear it.


Eat.Live.Be. Update

I was on a first date this Saturday (!!!) (yes, there will be a second date) (yes, I’m smiling about it) when the guy I was out with asked me if I was obsessive about running.  He’s a runner also, so I knew he meant it in a “are you the kind of runner who is going to have a total mental breakdown if you can’t get a run in during the week” kind of way and not a “do you love running with every ounce of passion in your soul” kind of way.  Because if you’re a runner, the latter is kind of a given.

I said no.  And I meant it.  But only because I don’t not get runs in.  I postpone runs.  I reorganize my workout schedule to fit them in.  I work them around the rest of my life.  But they get done.  Always.

To some, that may sound obsessive, but I think of it as dedication – I am dedicated to doing something good for myself every day.  And I think once you consider it in that light.  Once you take away the negative connotation of “obsession” and put a positive spin on it with “dedication”, it sounds more desirable.  It makes you want to get out there and be passionate and dedicated about something in your life.

After all, who doesn’t want to have something they give their all to, something that they love, day in and day out?  So tell me, what are you dedicated to?  It doesn’t have to be healthy living related, just something that makes you happy!

The WINNER of the Saucy Mama mustard giveaway is VERONICA of Veronica’s Cornucopia! I’ll be emailing you for further details!  Also, this is your LAST DAY to vote for my recipe in the contest so please head over and do so! You can vote once every day, so let’s all get one last chance vote in, shall we?


Shepherd’s Pie with Chard-Lentil Filling
Serves 6, adapted from The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook


Wine-Braised Lentils

    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
    • 1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
    • 1/2 cup dried brown or green lentils
    • 2 tbsp sherry or any red wine you enjoy
    • 3/4 to 1 cup water
    • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt


Onion Gravy

    • 3 tbsp butter (I used Land O Lakes olive oil butter)
    • 2 cups onions, sliced thinly into half moons
    • 1 or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp water
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • pinch of sugar
    • 1 tsp soy sauce

Shepherd’s Pie

  • 1 recipe wine-braised lentils
  • 1 recipe onion gravy
  • 2 lb medium potatoes (I used yukon gold), quartered
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
  • ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp almond milk or lowfat/skim milk
  • 3 to 4 cups swiss chard (from 1 bunch), washed, stemmed and chopped/torn into ribbons
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese



  1. For the lentils: in a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, carrot and thyme.  Cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly softened.  Add the lentils and stir to cook.  Add the sherry or red wine and bring to a lively simmer.  The wine will reduce a bit.  Add 3/4 cup of the water.  Return to a lively simmer, then lower the heat, cover and cook until fork tender, about 40 minutes.  Add water as needed while cooking so that lentils don’t dry out completely.  Stir in 1/4 tsp salt, taste, and add more salt if necessary.
  2. For the gravy: in a deep skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onions and thyme.  Toss to coat the onions with the butter and cook over medium-low heat until softened, reduced, and jamlike, about 25 minutes.
  3. Add the balsamic vinegar, stir, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Add the water and bring to a lively simmer.  Reduce by half, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  The gravy will continue to reduce.  Stir in the salt and sugar, and taste.  Finish with soy sauce.
  5. For the pie: grease a 9-inch pie plate.  Fill a medium-size sauce pan with 4 cups of water.  Add the potatoes and salt.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Add the whole garlic. Return the lid and cook until fork-tender, about 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350.
  7. With a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes and garlic to a large mixing bowl and mash with a hand mixer.  Stir in the reserved cooking liquid as necessary to moisten the potatoes.  Add a bit of milk and stir in vigorously with a wooden spoon.  Taste for salt, pepper, and texture and season and stir accordingly.  Mashed potatoes should be smooth and well-seasoned.
  8. In a large skillet, spray with cooking spray and, over medium heat, cook the chard with the chopped garlic until wilted, 3 to 5 minutes, regularly tossing with the tongs to coat evenly.  Stir in the nutmeg and season with more salt to taste.  Transfer to a medium-size bowl.
  9. Stir the lentils into the chard.
  10. Assemble the pie: transfer the chard mixture to the greased pie plate.  Top with the mashed potatoes and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.  Top with grated parmesan cheese.
  11. Place the dish in the oven and heat through, 20 to 25 minutes.  During the final 2 minutes of cooking, set the oven to broil and brown the cheesy mashed potato topping.  Remove from the oven, slice into wedges and eat hot with a ladleful of onion gravy.

I am submitting this to My Legume Love Affair, which is being hosted this month by Girlichef and to the Allergy-Free Wednesdays Blog Hop (it’s gluten-free when using GF soy sauce)!


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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101 Responses to Shepherd’s Pie with Chard-Lentil Filling and Onion Gravy {Eat.Live.Be.}

  1. Johanna GGG says:

    sounds delicious – great warming winter flavours and yet it doesn’t look as stodgy as so many winter casseroles! And yay for dates that make you happy.

  2. I’m such a lentil lover… and this vegetarian shepherd’s pie looks so so so good! My mom makes one with TVP, which I love, but this looks like it’s even healthier and more satisfying.

    Glad your brother is coming around. It takes time 😉

  3. This cookbook is a serious win! Can’t wait to see what else you make from it.

  4. london bakes says:

    Oh this sounds absolutely delicious – I’m always looking for meat alternatives and this is a great way to enjoy one of our favourite comfort foods but with the added benefit of being a bit good for you!

  5. Sam says:

    This looks *really* good. It’s exactly what I’ve been craving this week.

  6. Lynn says:

    How could I not make this now? Especially after that onion gravy description. This looks yummy and I love cooking vegetarian the most.

  7. I am lovin’ that you closed your eyes and pointed to choose a recipe…and I’m glad that this is what resulted! What a delicious looking veggie alternative to a classic comfort dish.

  8. Lora says:

    That onion gravy looks to die for. Yum!

  9. Beth says:

    The more I look at this recipe, the more delicious it looks.

    As for what I’m dedicated to, and what makes me happy? Seriously, my family. I know it sounds mushy, but they’re terrific! (Oh, and traveling. I’ll go without all kinds of material possessions if I can just keep taking my trips.)

  10. Amy says:

    Years ago when I stopped eating meat and told my family (and on Thanksgiving, no less…great timing, eh?), they were horrified. Then years later when I started eating meat again, they seemed indifferent. I was expecting excitement! A party! Money! What a let down. I still love lentils…

  11. Youpee on the second date! And youpee for such a fabulous cookbook. I can’t wait to try that gravy although Swiss chard + lentils sounds totally up my alley. 🙂

    Earlier this month, I started rejigging my workouts to after work if I didn’t feel up to it in the mornings. It worked but since I would get home so late, I remember why I didn’t do it before. Now it is back to mornings for me with breaks when my body tells me so. 🙂 Now, what am I dedicated to? Blogging! (kind of, in a totally non-stressful way) 😉

  12. Elizabeth says:

    YES, dedication, not obsessive. So true.

  13. “Once you take away the negative connotation of “obsession” and put a positive spin on it with “dedication”, it sounds more desirable.”
    I have another perspective – when its not obsession and dedication, its simply part of life, something you do regularly because its normal. You eat breakfast everyday without dedication, its part of life, you can exercise everyday without dedication, its part of life. You do it without thinking and if its missed, so be it, like we can miss breakfast once in a while
    The meal looks good but I didn’t realise shepherds looked after chard and lentil. Maybe sheep eat chard? What about farmers pie???

  14. Shepard’s pie was my FAVORITE thing growing up, but go figure, I have a live-in vegetarian boyfriend. I’m so exited to make this and make us both happy 🙂

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. Loving this hearty meets healthy hybrid!

  17. Suzi says:

    This really does sound delicious, wine-braised lentil, yum, Onion gravy, yummy yummy and top it off with potatoes what could be better. This is fantastic, great cook book from your brother, how cool that he has come around to the veggie life style.

  18. Oh my goodness, those onions look so sticky and shiny and delicious! I’ve never tried making a vegetarian shepherd’s pie but I love lentils, onions and mash so I honestly can’t think why I’ve never tried…

  19. Epicurea says:

    the onion gravy does sound perfect and probably goes well with nearly everything. nothing compares to sweet, creamy onions! my dedication/ obsession actually is – surprise! – food. i try to cook something nearly every day and sometimes i do schedule other things around that! best of luck for your second date :-)!

  20. That Girl says:

    Your brother has come a long way!

  21. You always make my mouth water. Love these scrumptious, comforting, vegetarian meals!

  22. Shannon says:

    yay for a second date and a smile 🙂 this looks great… but i’m seeing that onion gravy over biscuits. is that bad? i don’t even like gravy, haha.

  23. Amy says:

    Mmmm. This looks like a really tasty and comforting dish. I love the gravy!

  24. Mary says:

    YAY for the second date and how cool that your brother actually bought you a veg cookbook!! Those onions look absolutely delicious in the photograph. Wow. You did a heck of a job describing that gravy. I need to taste it now!

  25. Jenna says:

    Yay! I’m a dedicated (not obsessed =) follower of Veronica’s blog, so I’m glad to hear she won! You couldn’t have picked a more deserving lady.

  26. Pam says:

    You had me at onion gravy – the whole dish looks amazing! I am so glad your brother is coming around to support your vegetarianism. I am so glad the first date went well… looking forward to hearing the second date did too :).

    What am I dedicated to day in and day out? This one is probably silly to you but I love to turn down my kids beds every night and turn their bedside light on. It makes their room cozy and comfy and they love it. I’ve done it since they were born and I will continue to do it until they say otherwise. It not only comforts them it comforts me. Strange huh?

  27. Mary says:

    It is good to hear off-hours are more getting more interesting :-). Your shepherd’s pie sounds wonderful. Did your brother also enjoy i? Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  28. Camila Faria says:

    Oh, I love your recipe selection process! When you have so many cookbooks and so many choices, it’s the best way to go!

  29. Dana says:

    Yay on the date, yay on your brother beginning to see the light. The author of that cookbook lives in Seattle and I see her around town a lot. It’s a great book but one I don’t use all that much – need to change that. She is coming out with a holiday version!

  30. Pam says:

    Yay for first dates, and a big yay for second dates!

  31. Kristen says:

    This was a stellar week for you, what with a great date and a brother conversion! I love the shepherd’s pie.

  32. I grew up eating Shepherds pie, but that’s the last I’ve seen of it. I love how they turned a classic Shepherds pie into something healthy and flavorful. Something I would absolutely make. Wine braised lentils. Hello, come to mommy!

  33. Claudie says:

    The shepherd’s pie looks amazing!!! And I believe to know exactly which cookbook your brother got you… to which I also say congrats on both your brother and the date, that’s a double win! 🙂

    By the way, I also love your answer concerning the obsessive-about-running question. I think that’s really a great way to look at it!

  34. Great pie! Lovely ingredients, would make it here at home too. I feel the same way about swimming as you do running.

  35. Jenn Kendall says:

    this sounds wonderful! it really looks delicious 🙂

  36. that looks really good. i wonder if i could get my hubs to eat it… Hmmm. He’s such a meat man sometimes. 🙂

  37. Karen says:

    This sounds so good. It’d be good with kale, which I love. Date? Did she say date?? Off to vote…

  38. Natalie says:

    This is full of so many delicious-sounding things! I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an onion gravy before but I’ll have to try it!

  39. Sara says:

    Wow, this looks amazing! I’m eating vegetarian for Lent, and so I definitely need to try this out…I especially like that the wine braised lentils just take a teeny amount of wine…perfect for using a bit of the bottle and serving the rest with dinner!

  40. Memória says:

    How is this a shepherd’s pie if there’s no lamb in it? Hahaha *scratches head* This is definitely not one; it still looks like a dish my mother would love. Anyway, I am not dedicated to anything anymore. I’ve lost all ambition and hope in life. Pretty depressing but true.

    Congrats on your pending 2nd date! I hope there’s a third.

  41. Katie says:

    I will certainly make that gravy, and the rest of the pie too. I’m glad to hear that your brother is opening up to the whole vegetarian thing. A cookbook purchase is a step in the right direction.

  42. Yay! Maybe next you will have your mum buying a vegetarian cookbook 🙂 This looks amazing. I’ve never had a vego shepherds pie but it looks fab! What a great alternative

  43. Megan says:

    I feel like that onion gravy must totally make the dish!

  44. tigerfish says:

    Oh yes, the onion gravy is the one pulling everything together 🙂 It’s like the mashed potatoes + onion gravy …I won’t miss the fillings at all! :O

  45. Christine says:

    I voted (again)! Hope you win!!
    Normally Shepherds pie seems to heavy but this sounds scrumptious and not nearly as artery clogging. This will be going on my “to-make” list.
    Congrats on your brother! That took some work on everyone’s part!

  46. Love the idea of the veggie shepherd’s pie! Such a healthy and delicious dish!

  47. Reeni says:

    I’m happy 1. that your brother’s coming around 2. for your second date 3. that you picked this pie! Completely comforting and delicious in I don’t have to loosen my pants after I eat it kind of way!

  48. Dining Alone says:

    Very awesome about your date, and future dates 🙂 The onion gravy does look ridiculously good.

  49. Daniel says:

    What, I only get half a post?

  50. elly says:

    This sounds so good! I love every part of this meal but yep, the onion gravy looks the best. Hope to make this one soon!

  51. Hmm… what is the best way to low-carbocise this?

  52. JasmyneTea says:

    You know it never registered with me until now that your blog is vegetarian – I guess that shows how you really don’t miss meat in the recipes you post.

  53. Ashley says:

    Looks delicious! Just bookmarked this page so I can come back to this and make it. Can’t believe I’ve never had Swiss Chard before!

  54. First, you’ve got me daydreaming about onion gravy. What is this world coming to? 😉 Second, I admire and respect your dedication to healthy living and running. I’m dedicated to God and my husband. Third, YAY, I’m so excited I won! The odds were in my favor with all my blogger buddies offering the sauce, I figured I’d make out like a bandit! lol. Thanks, Joanne! If you sent and email, though, I don’t think I got it.

  55. So glad the date went well! and the gravy sounds great 🙂

  56. Hi dear. The picture on the food looks delicious : ).

  57. daphne says:

    I am so glad that your brother came around and how cute that cookbook sounds! Ps- date sounds great!!! I’m thinking 2 runners going on a running date! 😉

  58. Swiss chard, how I love thee..Looks grand, definitely on my to-make list.

  59. what a wise choice! Shepards pie is one of those dishes which I can eat anytime of the day. Its satisfying and with chard healthy! Cute from your brother to gift u this book. =)


    Keep Produce Fresh Longer, The Environmentally Friendly Way

  61. Nice that your brother came around, great gift. That shepherd’s pie looks so good. I’d serve that to my meats and potatoes guy and he’d love it!

  62. Katerina says:

    I am so happy for you and the second date! Try to feed him with this gravy and I am sure there will be third, forth and multiple dates!

  63. Yum! Even as a meat eater I could appreciate this 🙂 And congrats on the first-to-second date! 🙂

  64. vianney says:

    glad your brother is coming around, so sweet of him to buy you a cookbook!! second date (hell ya) currently I’m dedicating alot of time to reading, quiet time. i must try the gravy!!

  65. kelsey says:

    those onions look SO good.

    YAY for your second date!!! sooo excited! 🙂

  66. Hannah says:

    Okay, that’s it- I’m making the onion gravy tonight, end of story. I have no idea what I’ll serve with it yet, but I’ve gotta find one way or another to make it work, because that stuff looks incredible!

  67. Barbara says:

    I like my meat, as you know, but love and adore dishes like this.
    Yea on your second date! Love that sign…going to pin it.

  68. susan says:

    this is right up my alley! cannot wait to make this hearty dish!

  69. kyleen says:

    I think dedication is defintiely the way to put it. I wish I was as dedicated as you!
    This vegetarian shepherd’s pie looks amazing. I’m thinking about trying vegetarianism for a week to see how it goes. Defintiely going to try this!

  70. Faith says:

    Oh my God, I could swim in that onion gravy. This sounds seriously fantastic, Joanne…and yay for your brother coming around and for your second date!!

  71. Gorgeous photos! And onion gravy…that sounds just terrific!

  72. Maureen says:

    One peek at the photos and I was ready to sign on!

  73. Catherine says:

    Dear Joanne, Great looking Shepard’s Pie. I just love lentil’s so I don’t think I would miss the meat.
    BTW~Happy Birthday!!! We are birthday buddies!!
    Thank you for your kind birthday wishes. You are one of my first and truest blogging friends. I am grateful and blessed to know you.


  74. Miriam says:

    The pie looks awesome (and your brother cracks me up 🙂 ), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  75. The wine-braised lentils in your pie sound wonderful! Good luck with date #2 🙂

  76. I love lentils but am always a little stymied for things to do with them other than soup or lentil stew. I must try this. Thank you!

  77. ha ha ha…sounds like something my brother would do (the constant mentioning)…but how sweet that he gave you this book =). That onion gravy does sound fantastic. Delicious dish, actually!

  78. Hotly Spiced says:

    I love your styling and your photographs. You make food look amazing and so inviting. What a great twist on a traditional shepherd’s pie!

  79. This is a new to me but love the recipe. Infact I just bookmarked the book….will buy it asap

  80. Carolyn Jung says:

    My husband has come around, too. Sure, his nickname is Meat Boy. But this year, he’s actually letting me cook vegetarian now and then. Imagine that! 😉

  81. Joanne, Can I come over to your house this weekend and have some of this sheperds pie- it looks AMAZING! Love the lentils, swiss chard and onions combo… fantastic dish. I have to try this recipe! thanks:)

  82. Monet says:

    Haha! I don’t know how your brother can’t come around with all this amazing vegetarian fare you cook up. It all looks so very good! Thank you for sharing this delicious shepherd’s pie. It looks so very good! I hope you are having a great week. We’re gearing up for a busy weekend. Love and hugs.

  83. Alessandra says:

    Nice and vegetarian, perfect for me :-)!


  84. Kevin says:

    I am liking the swiss chard and lentil filling in this shepherds pie! Nice and healthy and tasty!

  85. Oh wow, this looks incredible! I love lentils so much.

  86. iscribbler says:

    I love how many people love lentils. I’m in love with them myself and really perked up when I saw this recipe – it’s unique but still true to shepherd’s pie. I’m definitely going to give this a try soon. 🙂 Thank you!

  87. Oh my this sounds amaaaazing Joanne. I want to try and make it next week!

  88. Deborah says:

    While I’m sure I’ll never give up meat, we have started eating meat-free a lot more. Especially since we first got married and were eating it every night. And you make eating vegetarian look so delicious!!

  89. This looks so incredible!! I’ve pinned it to make asap. It’s really sweet that your brother got you a vegetarian cookbook.

  90. Oh this is such a must try…really delicious!
    And congrats to both the winner and you for the second date 🙂

  91. This does look delicious. I have been craving anything potato lately and of course lentils, always lentils. 😉

  92. Laura says:


    Another amazing recipe! This is a dinner my meat-loving husband would thoroughly enjoy. I am crazy about cooked onions so the onion gravy in this dish is really calling me out 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your great recipe on Allergy-Free Wednesdays! Be sure to check back next week for recipe highlights (including the top 3 reader choice submissions and hostess favorites).

    Be Well!

  93. Nicole says:

    Holy – yes!
    This looks awesome! I’ll probably just do the swiss chard part – since hubby is still on the 4 hour body and the potatoes would be a no-no, and he has a thing about onions he can see in a food… i know, i know, how did i marry him? Can’t wait to try it!

  94. Chris says:

    Sounds like a good way to make Veggie-herds pie 😉

  95. Anonymous says:

    I made this tonight for my Easter dinner, and I thought it was amazing! It’s a bit time consuming, but so, so worth it!!!

  96. Meghan says:

    What a labor of love…Worth it though, excellent dish!

  97. Sarah says:

    So delicious! Made this last night, and while it is pretty time consuming, it’s definitely worth it! Even my boyfriend is somewhat weary about vegetarian meals liked it!

  98. […] Two years ago…Shepherd’s Pie with Chard-Lentil Filling […]

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