Garden Keeper’s Pie with Beets, Lentils & Creamy Celery Root Mash

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 1 vote

Garden keeper's pie is a cozy vegan main course with beets, lentils, herbs, and a creasy celery root topping. Perfect for a holiday meal.

garden keeper's pie w/ beets, lentils + creamy celery root mash
garden keeper's pie w/ beets, lentils + creamy celery root mash

When my inbox is multi-paged, the bills are piling up, there’s drama at work, or when I’ve just had one of those days, you can find me out in the garden with my big girl boots on, just getting dirty and feeling the feelings. Later on, you’ll find me making a garden keeper’s pie ;)

I planted a lot of things this year, all successful in some way or another. I still have some greens out there, but I saved the pulling of my absolute favourite vegetable for when the Fall was certifiably cool. The celery roots. The ones that look like baby aliens, but taste like absolute heaven. Creamy textured, sweet, kinda grassy like parsley, and celery-like.

But mine were so small! Nothing at all like those big, knubby, market ones. Lots of green leafy stalks and tangled up roots full of dirt, ie lots of bits to cut around before you had any real food. My dad advised that I put them in a low spot of the garden for maximal water absorption and then further explained why they can be a bit pricy: they have to take up so much real estate and so much water for so long! Next year I’ll get it right. In the meantime, I managed to scrounge up just enough for two dinners’ worth.

One night I roasted some rough dices with other roots and squash, served it with a spicy gingered quinoa pilaf and a wispy knot of kale, apple and fennel slaw on top. And the other, I served clouds of puréed celery root on top of these little pies–garden keeper’s pies as I’m calling them. I made some small dices of beets, carrots and butternut squash and slowly cooked them down with black lentils, vegetable stock, garlic, and rosemary. Small additions of balsamic vinegar and tamari round the flavours out.

I know all of my American pals are coming up on Thanksgiving, so I wanted to offer up a main course option for the vegetable lovers. Side dishes can be a vegan/vegetarian’s closest pal at the holiday table, but a thoughtful main can make the heart glow just a bit fonder. For more holiday inspiration, check out this roundup right here.

garden keeper's pie w/ beets, lentils + creamy celery root mash // @thefirstmess
garden keeper's pie w/ beets, lentils + creamy celery root mash // @thefirstmess

Garden Keeper’s Pie with Beets, Lentils & Creamy Celery Root Mash

Garden keeper's pie is a cozy vegan main course with beets, lentils, herbs, and a creasy celery root topping. Perfect for a holiday meal.
5 from 1 vote
Garden Keeper's Pie with Beets, Lentils & Celery Root Mash - The First Mess
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 4



  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cooking onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, leaves minced
  • 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and divided
  • pinch of chili flakes, optional
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 5 cups-worth of small diced root or tuber vegetables or squash (I used a mix of butternut squash, carrots & beets)
  • cup black or french lentils, rinsed
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce
  • sea salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons arrowroot powder
  • 1 tablespoon cold filtered water


  • 3 cups peeled and diced celery root
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, plus extra
  • ¼ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk


  • These are rough measures, but this isn’t a fussy endeavour by any means. You’re just making one big sauté, thickening it with arrowroot, topping it with a rustic mash and baking it until the whole thing bubbles and browns.
  • Some cooked beans would fill in nicely for the lentils. Just make sure you throw them in closer to the end of the cooking process.


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly oil 4 ramekins/cocottes/mini gratin dishes with at least 8 oz/1 cup capacity. Place dishes on a sheet pan and set aside.
  • For the filling, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until very, very soft, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the minced garlic, rosemary, thyme, and chili flakes (if using) to the pot and stir. Sauté until the garlic is very fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir. Add the 5 cups of diced vegetables and the lentils to the pot and stir to coat everything in the oil. Season heartily with salt and pepper. Sauté the vegetables and lentils another two minutes or so, stirring often.
  • Add the vegetable stock and tamari and stir. The liquid should cover all the vegetables and lentils nicely, by about a half inch. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer until the vegetables are tender and the lentils are just soft, about 45 minutes. It helps if you place a lid on top of the pot slightly askew, leaving a little gap for air to escape.
  • When the filling is done, in a small bowl mix together the arrowroot powder and cold water. Scrape this slurry into the pot with the filling and stir to mix it in. Remove the pot from the heat.
  • For the celery root mash, place the diced celery root and garlic cloves in a medium saucepan. Cover the vegetables with cold water/vegetable stock if you like, and then place the pot over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer until the celery root pieces are tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Drain the celery root and garlic, and place it in a food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Pulse the vegetables a couple times to get them moving. Add the olive oil, unsweetened almond milk, and some salt and pepper. Run the motor on high until you have a cream, homogenous mixture. Check it for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
  • Divide the filling amongst the 4 oiled dishes. Then, divide the celery root mash among the tops of the 4 dishes, smoothing it out with a butter knife or spatula. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top of each pie and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme leaves. Place the assembled pies back on the baking sheet and slide into the oven. Bake the pies until the filling is bubbling and the tops are very lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
13/11/2014 (Last Updated 09/02/2023)
Posted in: autumn, carrots, creamy, earthy, gluten free, lentils, main course, nut free, refined sugar-free, sweet, umami, vegan, winter


5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

Recipe Rating

  • Jeremy

    Hey there,

    Thanks so much for your blog- I’ve been reading it for almost a year now and it’s always such encouragement in the cooking, gardening overarching-life-wisdom areas. The few recipes of yours that I’ve tried have all been spectacular

    Anyway, a new favorite holiday recipe of mine is something I learned from Smitten Kitchen- a pear, cranberry and gingersnap crumble- amazing! I’m sure there’s an easy way to make it vegan and gluten free, though I haven’t tried.

    Thanks again for all you do here

  • Christine H

    First time to your site, from Simple Bites, and love the recipes and photos! And your “celery root” recipe got my full attention, as I too LOVE celeriac/celery root…love it mashed with potatoes, and even with kohlrabi mixed in, too — so I guess I love “sides” most of all!

  • Abby

    I love roasted brussels sprouts! Actually, any sort of roasted fall veg!

  • Crystal

    It’s a classic answer, but my Mother’s wild rice stuffing is the best in the world…

  • Haley

    I knew as soon as I saw this post on Pinterest that this would be thanksgiving dinner!Thank god for something other than cranberry sauce!

    I’ve never tried celery root before – but I have tried cauliflower “mashed potatoes”. If anyone wants to try the recipe (it’s really good, plus it’s not MY recipe) it’s here –>

    Happy holidays!

  • Millie l Add A Little

    This looks gorgeous – I love the beautiful creamy topping!

  • Julia

    Two absolutely crucial components of my Thanksgiving table are:

    – Cranberry Horseradish Relish – Raw cranberries chopped super fine with lots of horseradish and a bit of sugar and lemon juice. So delicious with Thanksgiving dinner, and even better with leftovers. It’s divine on sandwiches, too.

    – Arugula Salad: A few years ago, I just happened to have a bunch of arugula in the fridge on Thanksgiving, and on a whim, I tossed it with some EVOO, white wine vinegar, sea salt and pepper. I was amazed by how it complimented, and cut through, the richness of the rest of the meal, and now I wouldn’t want to have Thanksgiving without it.

  • Debbie

    Perfect timing as I had just got my Veg Box delivered with squash, beets and celeriac in it. Made the recipe. Absolutely delicious. Mixed the celeriac 50:50 with regular potato and mashed it – really good! Didnt have any arrowroot but it didnt matter! :)

  • Judith

    Lovely pictures. Favorite holiday table addition: vegan mushroom gravy. You’ll never miss the drippings!

  • Rebecca

    I love that you grew Celeriac! I threw some seeds in the ground a couple years back and then promptly gave up after they didn’t sprout. I’ll have to try again next year. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Gabriela Repeta

    What a beautiful recipe! I consistently look forward to your new posts because not only is your writing thoughtful and peppered with bits of humor, but also your recipes are so inspiring that sometimes I can’t wait more than a day to run out to the market to gather ingredients! I’d have to say that my favorite holiday recipe is roasted sweet potatoes. My mom bakes them with just the right amount of spices, a little coconut oil, and a dash of maple syrup that the whole house illuminates with the tantalizing smell…

  • Lisa

    A now required dish at the holidays is a version of sweet potato casserole with most of the butter and all of the cream removed from the recipe. There is a streusel topping that I use sparingly. I think I will need three of these this year so that everyone can get their fill and have a bit for leftovers the next day.

  • Jessie Snyder

    This is absolutely beautiful. Both the recipe and the photos!

  • Laura Timmerman

    A friend suggested I might like this post and she was right. Your peaceful joy and relaxed creativity shine through in your writing. Every family has their favorite Thanksgiving foods. One I remember from my childhood was a salad of sliced cucumbers, sliced onions, sour cream (thinned a bit with vinegar), salt, and pepper. Simple and tasty.

  • Pam

    My favorite holiday dish is Pumpkin Chiffon Pie.. I am still trying to perfect my gelatin-free recipe. Someday…

  • Ashley

    I love pumpkin desserts! Thanks so much for the chance to win this beautiful cutting board. :)

  • Courtney

    I LOVE the idea of these garden keeper’s pies as a main holiday dish! I’ve never been a tofurkey gal (or even a turkey gal for that matter) either.

    When I could still tolerate dairy, my absolute favorite holiday holiday dish growing up was my father’s egg-nog. He would stand in our kitchen and methodically separate eggs, measure sugar, and calmly whip up the cream while my siblings and I raucously played in the living room. He would secretly add a little Wild Turkey while my mother wasn’t watching (though she had to have smelled it!).

  • nina

    i love roasted sweet potatoes topped with cinnamon, butter, and brown sugar :)

  • Solducky

    The color from the beets is fabulous! My favorite holiday dish, you adorable grandma, is 7 layer salad. It is a culinary atrocity, but I grew up with it and loved it as a kid. Makes me think of happy times when I eat it as an adult now at my family’s holiday gathering, even though I eat only a little, because really? Miracle whip on iceberg lettuce?

  • Julianne

    I’ve adored that cutting board ever since I spied it on your Instagram! My favorite holiday dish has always been sweet potatoes. When I was a kid I made the recipe on the back of the Princella yams can (with shredded coconut and pecans). These days, I make fluffy whipped sweet potatoes with honey.

  • Linda

    Looks delicious! I’ll try it this week. One of my favorite holiday side dishes is chipolte roasted sweet potatoes.

  • Casey

    I want to say my favorite seasonal dish consists of sweet potato, butternut squash healthy-goodness-wintery-comfort-health food, but really, the holidays are my grandmother’s cinnamon rolls. I was really indoctrinated into the practice of making them, of kneading, rising, waiting, worrying about the humidity in the air and how it will affect the yeast. It’s the holidays in a food for me. Thank you for offering the giveaway! Those boards and blocks sound dreamy.

  • Vittoria

    I always feel the lack of green on the table, and not everyone in my family is sold on brussels sprouts, so I keep trying to work them into the mix. Simply pan fried with a little cheese (a la 101 Cookbooks) they are just my favorite.

  • jade

    What a beautiful chopping block!! My moms creamy baked horseradish cauliflower has been my favorite holiday dish for years, i make it every fall when i start to feel homesick.

  • Sonia

    Love your blog and love getting the email when you gave a new post! My fave holiday dish would be corn pudding, but since you asked for dairy free my second choices would be mashed butternut squash or stuffing. Mmmmmm, I’m getting hungry!

  • Laura

    When I think of Thanksgiving I remember my Grandma’s “vegetable pie”. Now I think it sounds pretty gross, but when I was a kid I loved it. It was basically crust covered with cream cheese and covered with random raw veggies.

  • Sophie

    This looks wonderful – I love celeriac too. And I must say, refreshing not to have another pumpkin/squash recipe for thanksgiving (not that we even celebrate it here in Australia!)

  • Emma

    What scrumptious looking pies! Lovely to see you used celery root (or celeriac as we call it here) – it’s such an underrated vegetable.
    I’m in the UK so can’t enter the giveaway but that’s certainly a gorgeous chopping block.

  • Olivia

    Those boards look beautiful!
    My favorite side is dish is stuffing–ALWAYS stuffing… not that it’s ever stuffed in anything! We have an old traditional recipe and a large family, and while my dad cooks most of the meal, the stuffing is always my mom’s deal and she ends up making three or four different versions because of all the different dietary demands of our big ol’ weirdo family :) can’t wait!

  • Meghan

    Your food is honestly breathtaking. Everything about it; where it comes from, your flavors, your perspectives, your photography (!), and the vibrancy and verdancy that radiates out from ground to plate. It’s inspiring, really. Thank you. This recipe is a beauty; a definite keeper on my holiday table.

    And as for my own favorite holiday dish? I’m a sucker for my grandmother’s cooking, all hailing directly from Germany (specifically her cookies at Christmas time)!

  • Carly

    I love sweet potatoes with pineapple and marshmallows.

  • Laura

    Sautéed mushrooms and diced red peppers, with a dollop of sour cream, shredded gruyere, and seedy mustard, baked in circles of puff pastry.

  • Regina Niagara

    I was really jazzed to enter this contest and then you whip out your Americans only clause. Pffffft. Yeah, I pfffft’d you.

  • Terry Covington

    What an astoundingly beautiful recipe! I loved what you wrote about gardening. My favorite side has to be just plain, classic mashed potatoes. Just so many warm memories evoked by that, of past holidays when I was younger. Thank you for the opportunity to own one of those gorgeous chopping blocks, as well.

  • Jade Sheldon-Burnsed

    Every year I make special desserts. One tried and true is my recipe for candy cane macaroons…

  • paula I

    I love cranberry agrodolce, sweet, spicy and so delicious. It is not at all like a regular sweet cranberry sauce.

  • jaime : the briny

    ah gosh, laura, you’re just the best. your posts are like books i can’t put down. i loved your thoughts on keeping a garden and i love these pies. i don’t think i have a favorite holiday dish but i love drinking brandied up eggnog with my parents around christmas. thanks for the beautiful reminder. :)

  • sarah


  • Cindy A.

    My absolute favorite holiday side dish is sweet potato souffle. Yum!

  • Susi Brust

    Love your blog and can’t wait to try these garden keeper’s pies. My favorite holiday dish is Roasted parsnips and sweet potatoes with caper vinaigrette from Plenty – it has become a Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition in our family. Susi.

  • Christina

    My favorite holiday dish is a sweet potato casserole my mom always made with cranberries and a brown sugar and oat streusel. I’ve tried other, more, shall we say, sophisticated sweet potato sides, but that’s the one that tastes like home.

  • Becca

    Rice pudding always makes me think of the holidays. Must be my Swedish roots!

  • Jan Scholl

    We always have mashed rutabaga. Nothing special about the actual recipe. Just some butter (I use Earth Balance) and salt and pepper. It is memorable because of my gramma. She was from Scotland and root veggies are a big deal there. So one year, rutabagas was what we found at the table and I have now passed it down 5 generations. And soon to be 6. Love them.

  • Kerry

    Butternut squash lasagne!

  • Sarah

    Great giveaway! I am all about the side dishes, but Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving for me without pumpkin pie!

  • Deb|EastofEdenCooking

    As soon as cranberries are in season I make 3 batches of traditional cranberry sauce. I can enough to last the entire year and for gifts too. No matter what else is going on, making the cranberry sauce always takes me to a holiday place of mind. It is a wonderful way to begin the season!

  • cheri

    Harvesting from one’s own garden is nirvana for me. Aside from all the delicious food one can prepare for a holiday meal, my beverage of choice is always champagne. It elevates holidays as well as one’s mood. Cheers!!!!

  • Sarah Nikolovska

    There are so many holiday dishes that are just so lovely, most of which I can’t eat anymore but I’d have to say above all others is trifle, sweet, creamy loveliness. And do you really have a recipe for non-dairy nog???? Can you please post it. I would be so grateful!

  • Kaley

    Love the post!

    Around the holidays, I always look forward to a seasonally-inspired salad/bowl of goodness with greens, grains, some type of fruit and roasted vegetables…and maybe a sprinkling of feta cheese (my favorite). The truth is I’m always the one contributing the salad!

  • thefolia

    I can’t wait to try this dish! I am pulling up my beets now. Happy Nesting.