Vegetarian Cottage Pie, or should that be Shepherds Pie, Lentil Pie, Veggie Pie, or just plan old Pie !
Living with a vegetarian (and that does mean no fish no matter what other ‘vegetarians’ say) has extended my cooking skills – it has made me literally think about what goes into meals. Originally I thought along the lines of what to replace the flavour of the meat with – but now, many years down the line, I look at vegetarian cookery as a way to play with the ingredients, to build flavour, to think about texture let alone protein.
And that’s where Puy Lentils or rather to give them their official name Lentille Verte Du Puy come in. They are stars of the kitchen cupboard. Outrageously easy to cook, totally tasty, and packed full of goodies. And something I’d like to try and grow someday – just for the fun to see how they actually grow and watch the pods develop and form -but that’s for another day!
There are days when you want a ‘classic’ meal be it lasagne or Spag Bol and using Puy Lentils means you can make these classics but without the meat. So whether you have Meatless Monday’s, or are wondering what to cook that doesn’t involve Horse meat in processed food, have a vegetarian coming to dinner or are of course veggie (!) think about Puy Lentils the next time you want to “replace” the meat or simply cook a great vegetarian meal.
Vegetarian Cottage or Shepherds Pie with a potato-parsnip mash topping
- 120g puy lentils
- 1 – 2 tbls olive oil
- 1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- Clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 to 1 small stick of celery finely chopped
- 1 to 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 tsp tomato puree
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp of thyme or parsley to flavour
- 1 -2 tbls red wine (optional)
- 250g chopped veg such as carrots, swede, beans, peas, courgettes, peppers, turnips,
- vegetable boullion / stock cube
- Additional flavouring – mushroom ketchup, Worcestershire sauce (not for vegetarians), Marmite all can be used to give a little more oomph to the gravy/sauce – just a little bit at a time and taste test as you go on.
- black pepper and salt
- 5 – 6 medium potatoes and 2 parsnips – peeled and cut into large chunks, cooked as you would for mash
- Seasoned with butter and milk, salt and white pepper
- Put the lentils in a pan and cover them amply with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and cook for approximately 20 minutes until the lentils are soft. Check the level of the water as you cook, you may need to top it up. Drain the lentils and set aside.
- While the lentils are cooking make you potato-parsnip mash
- In a large pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil, turn the heat to medium-low and add the onion, garlic and celery to the pan. Cook gently until the onion is softened.
- Stir in the chopped tomatoes, the tomato puree, the bay leaf, herbs and red wine if using and add the lentils to the mix. Stir again.
- Add your chopped vegetables and approx 1/2 litre of hot water which has a touch of vegetable boullion or stock cube mixed into it.
- Bring the contents of the pan to a simmer and cook gently (partly covered) for approx 15 minutes, until the veggies are cooked.
- Check the seasonings and ask yourself what else it needs – salt and pepper probably. I like to add a dash of mushroom ketchup or Worcestershire sauce (but if it is to be a strictly vegetarian meal leave the Worcestershire sauce out).
The mixture is now ready to be assembled. I use a 10 inch oven dish or 2 smaller round dishes. The mixture makes enough for 4 to 6 people depending on appetites. Pour the lentil mixture into the oven dish and then top it with the potato-parsnip mix. To make sure the topping browns nicely dab and dot some butter on the top
Place in a hot oven – approx 200 for 30 minutes, it is ready when the topping is nice and crispy
Notes about the photography – the photo of the finished pie is not one of my best, so apologies – just shows you shouldn’t do things in a rush!!