October 4, 2013

Monster Mash Shepherd’s Pie

by IsaChandra

Serves 8
Total time: 1 hour || Active time: 30 minutes

Monster Mash Shepherd's Pie

This is what nightmares are made of! If nightmares were totally delicious. A grizzly green ghoul with haunted olive eyes, gaping radish fangs and ferocious claws…of thyme? Vegan food hasn’t been this scary since the 80s!

But beneath all the horror, this is a Lentil Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie With Scallion Cilantro Mashed Potatoes. Unfortunately, there’s nothing scary about that. So to name this macabre creation, I turned to the Post Punk Kitchen Facebook and ran a contest to find the perfect title. There were so many good ones, but come on…Monster Mash? That took the cake. Or took the potato, as it were. The winner will be receiving a signed copy of Isa Does It plus $25 to her favorite charity!

A few runner-up titles: Creature From The Black Legume, Mr. Potato Dead, Ghoul Interrupted, and Frankenthyme! Haha, good work, guys. Check back on Facebook soon for another Halloween recipe and your chance to win.

But for now, here we are: the perfect Halloween feast! DIG IN AT YOUR OWN RISK. And check out this video for a little extra guidance. (Watch with the sound on for the full effect.)

Recipe Notes

~Hey, cilantro haters! You can totally replace that herb with some parsley or extra scallions, if you prefer.

~For extra decadence, replace the almond milk in the potatoes with cashew cream. Yum!

~I used white pepper in the potatoes so that you wouldn’t be able to see it. But if you don’t have any, black pepper is totally fine. Maybe your ghouls have freckles?

For the mashed potato ghouls:
3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 1/2 inch chunks or so
2 cups chopped scallions, green parts only
1 cup fresh cilantro, including stems
1 cup unsweetened, plain almond milk (or your fave unsweetened non-dairy milk)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper

For the lentil mushroom shepherd guts:
2 cups cold vegetable broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, medium dice
2 medium carrots, sliced into thin half moons
2 cloves garlic, minced

2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1 lb cremini mushroom, chopped (about pea sized pieces)
3 tablespoons fresh thyme
Fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon salt (plus more, to taste)

4 cups cooked lentils
1 cup frozen peas

Pimento stuffed green olives
Thyme sprigs

Make the mashed potatoes:
Place potatoes in a large pot and submerge by an inch in cold water. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of salt into the water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cook until very tender.

In the meantime, place scallions, cilantro and milk in a blender and puree until relatively smooth and bright ghoulish green!

Once potatoes are tender, drain them, then place immediately back in the pot. Do a preliminary mash with a potato masher, just to get them broken up. Add the oil and the blender mixture, salt and pepper and mash until very smooth. Taste for salt and pepper. Cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

Make the lentil layer:
In a measuring cup, mix together the broth and cornstarch until mostly dissolved. Mix in the tomato paste and set aside (we’ll use this to thicken later on.)

Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Sauté onion and carrots in oil with a pinch of salt for 5 to 7 minutes, until onions are lightly browned. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or so, just until fragrant. Add mushrooms, celery, and thyme along with a bunch of fresh black pepper and 1 teaspoon salt. Let cook for about 5 minutes, until mushroom have released a lot of moisture. Add the cooked lentils and use your spatula to much them up a bit right in the pan. This creates a “ground beef” effect. :)

Add the cornstarch/broth mixture, and mix well. Let cook until gravy-like and thickened. Fold in the peas. Taste for salt and seasoning.

To assemble:
Now comes the fun part! Slice olive into 1/8 inch thick “eyes.” The ends will need to be a separate snack, since you’ll just want to use the pieces with pimento in the center.

Slice radishes into 1/8th inch thick discs, and slice those discs into halfmoons. Then use a paring knife to carve out triangles for teeth. Have fun with it! Don’t worry about perfection here. (View video above for reference)

Strip thyme sprigs of their leaves until reaching their “claws.”

Have ready a large freezer bag with a 3/4 inch hole sliced out of the corner. Fill bag with some ghoulish mashed potatoes. This works best if they’re still warm!

Now fill individual bowls with shepherd guts. Take your mashed potato bag and squeeze ghouls into existence right onto each bowl of guts.

Place sliced olives into its eye sockets. Postition radishes for mouths. Position into mouth. Attach stems to the ghoul’s arm sockets. It’s alive! Ahh!

  • October 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm: Leitha

    Love it! I can’t wait to try this

  • October 4, 2013 at 6:25 pm: Emma

    Saw these over on the Fbook page- absolutely adorable! I mean TERRIFYING!! Teehee.
    I love a good lentil shepherd’s pie.

  • October 4, 2013 at 6:36 pm: Stacy

    Fantastic! Also, what is it about cilantro that folks either love or hate it?

  • October 4, 2013 at 6:43 pm: Izabelle

    This is pure genius.

  • October 4, 2013 at 6:58 pm: Krista

    Hahaha! Love the video!
    So this isn’t baked? Fast and easy!

  • October 4, 2013 at 6:59 pm: amy richards

    Love this. Please do more. As a vegan mom of 3 kids 5 and under I always sigh when I see cute holiday food stuff and think how the heck can I veganize it? We will be eating this Halloween night. Thank you!!!!!

  • October 4, 2013 at 8:07 pm: Angela

    That video just made my day. Seriously….the end! bahaha. Love this recipe. You are so creative!

  • October 4, 2013 at 8:55 pm: Kenny

    Stacy – there’s actually a genetic component to some of it. Some people have a gene which makes cilantro tastes gross and soapy to them, and everyone else gets to have delicious delicious cilantro.

  • October 4, 2013 at 9:09 pm: Sarojini

    Love these- I’d call them more cute than scary though! And I really like that the green colour is made naturally. I’m going over to your fb page now, to like it :)

  • October 4, 2013 at 9:46 pm: Katie @ Produce on Parade

    Oh my lord this is the cutest..I mean scariest thing ever! How clever!

  • October 4, 2013 at 11:26 pm: Allison N.

    umm, cute. you!

    • October 5, 2013 at 3:59 am: IsaChandra

      You sis!

  • October 5, 2013 at 2:02 am: Amey

    this is one of my favorite things ever. so cute and fun. I want to make this for my dad!

  • October 5, 2013 at 2:05 am: Randi (laughfrodisiac)

    This looks really good! I love the name and the setup. But, Isa, I don’t eat lentils or potatoes. Why would you provide a recipe with these things? Can you give me substitution ideas because I demand it thanks bye.

  • October 5, 2013 at 11:59 am: Natalie

    I’m in love with this idea! Not only does it look adorable but the recipe sounds delicious and perfect for a fall night too.

  • October 5, 2013 at 2:06 pm: Wendy


    I have to say there is not one recipe that I have made from your many books and website that is not delicious. Friends cannot believe that the food is vegan.

    My question to you is, there are a lot of vegan recipes that use mushrooms, unfortunately I am allergic to mushrooms, so for the recipe above and others, what would you substitute for mushrooms? I know they give an earthy and meaty texture. I am thinking TVP.

    Your thoughts?


    • October 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm: IsaChandra

      Well, I wouldn’t substitute 1:1 but if you could find some way to sneak tempeh or seitan in, that would be yummy. As far as veggies, eggplant would be fabulous.

  • October 5, 2013 at 10:22 pm: Amy

    I want to pin this but it wont let me, says theres no image to pin :(

  • October 6, 2013 at 12:48 am: Lorin

    Oh god the thyme arms! So friggin adorable!

  • October 6, 2013 at 9:19 am: Ines

    Sorry for that, but this is actually the nicest dish I’ve ever seen!! :-)

  • October 6, 2013 at 11:49 am: Sharon

    The sound effect made me giggle like a schoolgirl :-) So pissed i didn’t see the conest, I SO need another one of your lovely cookbooks!

  • October 6, 2013 at 7:10 pm: Heddi

    This recipe is ridiculous. I absolutely love it! Will have to make this for my boys for Halloween. What a great idea. Thanks!

  • October 7, 2013 at 6:31 pm: Susan

    Isa Chandra, I express my gratitude to you. I will do this at any given time. This is one of the best websites I know and my meals almost all come from here. Thanks.

  • October 8, 2013 at 8:03 pm: Elyse @myveganp

    OMGosh! Love love LOVE!

  • October 8, 2013 at 11:09 pm: Diane

    I made this for my kids, sans the face (I have 3 kids under 5 so I’m concentrating on cooking not cutting:) The table was silent, my 5 yo said “delicious!!” I’m loving the mashed potatoes, I could eat those all by themselves!

  • October 9, 2013 at 3:58 am: Kristen Kelley

    These are absolutely adorable. I love making fun Halloween food for my daughter (okay, and for me!). I do an entire Halloween themed feast before we head out trick or treating. Last year I posted recipes for Zombie Boogers and Creepy Pizzas. This year, well, I need to get on it!!

  • October 9, 2013 at 7:27 am: Lizz

    Very creative! Thanks for the laugh after watching the video. When I was a meat eater I absolutely hated shepherd’s pie but this one looks like something I might like! :)

  • October 9, 2013 at 11:41 pm: Shannon Grice

    That looks so yummy and perfect for kids and adults. Thanks so much for the recipe. I am slowly trying to convert my husband to a vegan diet and this recipe will be very helpful.

  • October 10, 2013 at 4:44 pm: Betsy

    Made this last night and it was awesome. My 6 and 8 year old kids loved it, and told me I should ‘make this more often’. The only change I made was adding a little splash of red wine to the lentils. Delicious!

  • October 10, 2013 at 9:16 pm: jade T

    GENIUS!!!! I love you! My kids will love this! ;-)

  • October 10, 2013 at 11:10 pm: Bonnie

    This was so amazing good! Little Miss Picky, aka daughter, even loved it! Thank you

  • October 13, 2013 at 3:51 am: Marley

    I love the shepard’s pie filling! So yummy :)

  • October 14, 2013 at 3:19 am: Sarah Z Squirrel

    Made these tonight and we loved it! Very yummy, well seasoned without being too spicy, and everyone gets to build their own monster. FUNNNN!

  • October 15, 2013 at 3:15 am: Katie

    So delicious! I made this for Canadian Thanksgiving for my family dinner (some veg some not) and everyone loved it! Served with regular white mashed potatoes, but looking forward to trying the green monster version for Halloween :). Cutest food I’ve ever seen!

  • October 20, 2013 at 2:24 pm: Laura

    Amazing! Making this today (to celebrate our first snow)!

  • October 20, 2013 at 8:53 pm: Anne

    I love them. So awesome.

  • October 26, 2013 at 9:41 am: Punk News

    This is a piece of art!

  • October 26, 2013 at 7:28 pm: Katie

    Looks great. Plan on making it with our abundance of butternut squash instead of potatoes!

  • October 28, 2013 at 12:43 am: Yodamom

    I made this for my family tonight and it was fabulous ! Everyone loved it and the faces got really crazy. Thanks !

  • October 31, 2013 at 10:48 pm: Victoria

    I just served up these potatoes with Field Roast Italian Vegan Sausages, corn & vegan au jus to vegans and non vegans alike. They were a graveyard smash!
    Seriously tho, everyone loved them.

  • October 31, 2013 at 11:12 pm: Pratima

    So, I’m planning to make these tomorrow for a group of nine. Those of who you have made this: If this is the main dish, should I double the recipe? Or will it be enough as is to feed such a large group? (I know the recipe says 8 servings, but I wasn’t sure how large the servings are… Are the ramekins in the picture a good indicator?) Thanks for helping me with my arithmetic, and happy Halloween, y’all!

  • November 2, 2013 at 4:17 pm: Pratima

    Just in case anybody else has the same question I did… If you’re feeding a large crowd, it’s probably a good idea to double the lentil layer at least. I did not double the recipe, but I added two cans of chickpeas and a can of tomatoes. That made just enough for everyone, with a tiny bit left over.

  • November 12, 2013 at 12:33 am: Gin

    Do you have nutrition information for the recipe?

  • December 29, 2013 at 2:27 am: Rebecca

    My son cannot eat tomatoes. What would I replace the tomato paste with?

  • February 12, 2014 at 4:01 pm: Liam

    Haha, very cute!

  • October 26, 2014 at 5:30 pm: Wendy @ The Nomadic Vegan

    I am sooo making this for dinner on Halloween night. I just hope I can get my monsters to look as scary as yours!

  • October 31, 2014 at 3:56 pm: Linda

    This has become our Halloween tradition. we do monster mash on Halloween and Zomberoni pizza faces (using a gluten free pepperoni from injonahskitchen for my celiac husband) on trick or treat night. Thanks!

  • November 1, 2014 at 3:49 pm: Wendy @ The Nomadic Vegan

    I did it! I did it! I made green ghouls! If you can’t tell, I’m a wee bit proud of myself. I even wrote a blog post about it. Thank you for the inspiration! http://www.thenomadicvegan.com/monster-mash-how-i-learned-to-play-with-my-food-at-the-age-of-38/

  • December 5, 2014 at 6:42 pm: Kirsten

    Okay this was amazing!!! So delicious!!!