Author Notes: I'm 37 weeks pregnant, and I'm spending these final weeks cooking meals that freeze well so we've got plenty of quick easy food on hand to survive those first crazy weeks after the baby arrives. I doubled the lentil filling for this pie and froze half of it - it'll work great as another pie filling, or just reheated and served with rice.
Before I became a vegetarian I actually hated the traditional shepherds pie made with minced lamb (I remember staring at the school dinner version, getting cold and congealed on my plate as the dinner ladies encouraged me to try 'just one more bite' - my 6 year old self was not impressed - trust school dinners to turn you off a dish for life).
But then I became vegetarian, and this lentil version became a bit of a winter staple dish in our house. It does use loads of pans, so be prepared for lots of dish washing, but if you double up the recipe, you'll have another meal for another day, so it's worth it.
I've used Marmite as a flavoring - it's British and a bit of an acquired taste - I've yet to meet a non British person who actually likes it on toast with butter (which is how most people eat it). But even if you're not a fan of it on toast, it really does work as a flavoring in a dish like this - it gives a salty, meatiness that the filling needs (not to mention lots of great B vitamins, which veggie food is often lacking in).
The mashed potato topping became colcannon just by adding some sautéed cabbage - I like to make the topping more interesting and along with leaving the potatoes un-peeled, the cabbage works really well.
Serves 4 to 5
for the lentil filling:
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Onion, finely chopped
- 3 sticks of celery, finely chopped
- 2 carrots finely chopped
- 1 cup dry lentils (I used green, but brown or Puy would also work)
- 3 cups water
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 pinch Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Rosemary, chopped
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- dashes salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 teaspoon Marmite
- dashes worcestershire sauce
for the Colcannon topping
- 4 potatoes, un-peeled and chopped
- 1 half smal savoy cabbage, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- dashes milk or vegetable stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- Start by preheating the oven to 400F.
- Bring a pan of salted water to the boil for the potatoes. In another pan bring the 3 cups of water to a boil, adding the 3 bay leaves and one garlic clove (smashed slightly to get the full flavor out of it).
- Meanwhile, rinse the lentils. Add them to the pan of water and bring down to a simmer; partially covered for about 25 - 30 mins, until they're tender but not falling apart.
- Add the potatoes to their water and simmer until tender (about 20 mins).
- While the lentils and potatoes are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and celery and cook gently for 5 minutes. Next, add the carrots and cook for another 5 mins. Add a clove of garlic (chopped or minced), minced ginger, paprika, rosemary, Marmite and worcestershire sauce and cook for 2 - 3 mins. Next, add the red wine and turn up the heat, cook until the wine is absorbed.
- Drain the cooked lentils, remove the bay leaves and garlic clove, and add them to the vegetable mixture along with the vegetable stock. Cook over a medium heat until the stock of nearly all absorbed; season with salt and pepper to taste.
- While the lentil mixture cooks, drain the potatoes, and in a frying pan melt the butter and and olive oil over a medium heat. Add the chopped cabbage to the pan and fry gently for about 5 minutes, until the cabbage is soft. Next, take off the heat and add the potatoes to the pan, add a dash of milk or vegetable stock, salt and black pepper, plus a little more olive oil. Mash with a potato masher till it all comes together.
- Next add the lentil mixture to an 8 x 8 ovenproof baking dish, and top with the mashed potato, level it out and run a fork over the mash so it crisps up nicely in the oven. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Lentils