Author and food blogger Blanche Shaheen from Feast in the Middle East

Recipe Corner: Mediterranean Shepherd’s Pie from Feast in the Middle East


Blanche Shaheen is an Arab American and network television host and reporter in both entertainment and news. She reported on the ABC entertainment program called “View from the Bay,” hosted the independent film show “Video I” for PBS for 10 years, reported live news daily for the Tech TV show called “Tech Live,” and hosted news and political programs for Link Media. In 2010, Blanche began hosting her own cooking show, and sharing hundreds of years of treasured recipes preserved by her mother and grandmother. These are heirloom recipes handed word of mouth from one generation to the next, recipes that even many culinary schools lacked – however, there were no written measurements. With her solid journalism background, Blanche decided to document her family recipes in an ongoing cookbook, and Feast in the Middle East was born.

Blanche launched her popular YouTube cooking show called Feast in the Middle East to not only share these recipes with her family, but with the world. Her videos were featured on the inflight entertainment on Virgin America Airlines, where over 1 million passengers a month could watch her cooking program. She has gained recognition in the press, featured on NBC’s “California Live,” BBC World News, KQED’s “Check Please” program, NPR radio, the Palo Alto Weekly, the Los Altos Crier, the Mountain View Voice, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Rumi Awards show that she hosted for an international audience. Go to:

It’s time to make the appealing Mediterranean Shepherd’s Pie that Blanche created while her family was in quarantine the last several months at their home in the San Francisco Bay Area. “You won’t miss the meat with this shepherd’s pie, with a rich ragout of lentils, and Middle Eastern spices. I developed this recipe after being fed up from not finding what I needed at the grocery store, so I used shelf-stable pantry ingredients like root vegetables and lentils to make this hearty dish. These potatoes are fluffy and creamy — a perfect balance for the rustic lentils,” adds Blanche.


1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil, to taste

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1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced small

1 large carrot, peeled and diced small

2 stalks celery, diced small

1 teaspoon garlic powder or 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon za’atar (or thyme if you don’t have za’atar)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup green lentils, rinsed

1/3 cup tomato paste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 medium red-skin potatoes, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Vegetable broth or water

1/4 cup regular or plant milk (unsweetened)

Fresh chives or parsley for garnish


Add the potatoes to a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon oil, and the onion, carrot, and celery in a large saucepan, and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, if needed, to keep the vegetables from sticking to the pan.

Stir in the cumin, za’atar, garlic powder (or garlic), lentils, and enough water or vegetable broth to cover the lentils by 3 inches. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the tomato paste to the saucepan and cook for another 15 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat, and pour the lentils into a 9 X 13-inch baking dish. Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain. Mash vegetables until smooth and creamy, then add oil, milk, and Parmesan cheese, and season with additional salt.   After mashing with a fork, whip using a hand mixer, and spread the mixture evenly over the lentils. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly, and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6.

For this recipe:
Enjoy Blanche’s series on YouTube and at See her amazing 3-part series on an “Armenian Food Festival” at St. Gregory Armenian Apostolic, San Francisco, go to: <>


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