Fire Life

Shepherd’s Pie

By Rip Esselstyn

When I was a kid in Cleveland, a wonderful Yugoslavian neighbor named Mina used to make our family a shepherd’s pie several times a year. That pie would hit the top of our Lazy Susan dinner table and we six Esselstyns would devour it before the table stopped spinning.

This is almost as good as the original. Savory crumbles, green vegetables, and mashed potatoes make it a hearty, satisfying meal.

Serves 4 to 6

Photo by Karel Traister.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into quarters
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
cracked pepper to taste
16 ounces fresh or frozen green beans
2 onions, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
16 ounces vegetarian meat crumbles
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos
6-ounce can tomato paste
1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce

1. Steam potatoes for 15 minutes, until soft.
2. Drain and mash in a bowl with soy milk, rosemary, and pepper. Set aside.
3. Steam green beans for 7 minutes or until bright green and still firm.
4. Sauté onions on medium heat in a large skillet for 5 minutes until translucent. 
5. Add mushrooms, garlic, and rosemary to the onions. Cook for 5 minutes until the mushrooms begin to release their juices. 
6. Add meat crumbles, black pepper, and Bragg. 
7. Stir in tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce, adding a small amount of water as necessary to combine ingredients.
8. Place the vegetable meat crumble mixture in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or casserole dish.
9. Spread green beans atop mixture. 
10. Spread the mashed potatoes over the top.
11. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. 
12. Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes or until potatoes begin to brown lightly.

Use frozen peas in place of green beans.


Rip Esselstyn is a mission-driven man. As a swimmer at the University of Texas at Austin, he was a three time All-American. As a professional athlete, he was one of the premier triathletes in the world for more than a decade. As a firefighter for the Austin (TX) Fire Department, he helped people and saved lives. As a friend to other firefighters, he transformed the way Austin’s Engine 2 ate to save firefighters’ health. Now, as the author of The Engine 2 Diet, he is teaching people the irrefutable connection between what they put in their mouths and their ability to reach their ideal weight and their ideal health. Recently, he has teamed up with Whole Foods Market as a Healthy Eating Partner to raise awareness for Whole Foods Market team members, customers, and all of America about the benefits of eating a PlantStrongÔ diet composed of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Rip comes from a family steeped in medicine. His great-grandfather, George Crile, co-founded the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, where his father, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., was chief of the breast cancer task force and completed one of the most extensive studies ever conducted on the relationship between the heart and diet–proving that a plant-based diet can stop, prevent, and even reverse heart disease.  

Rip serves on the Board of Directors for The Wellness Foundation, EarthSave’s Meals For Health Program, and the AllergyKids Foundation.