lentil shepherd’s pie
Recipe by Simon Bryant
150g dirt(y) big red bolt lentils *
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 stalks celery (including the heart), diced
1 carrot, diced
1 sprig rosemary, chopped
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs thyme, chopped
100g button or field mushrooms, diced
25ml red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
200g tinned diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons sea salt
cracked black pepper
handful of flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
for the mash
700g starchy potatoes, peeled and cut into 3 cm chunks
½ cup (40g) grated parmesan
2 teaspoons sea salt
Optional for the meatlovers, use 75g lentils and add 250g beef or chicken mince and add at the same time as the mushrooms.
Pop the lentils into a pot and cover with 5 times their volume of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until just tender to the bite. (Top up the water if the lentils become too dry during cooking but keep the liquid level at a minimum as you will lose flavour to the cooking water.) Do not drain, just set aside till you’re ready to assemble the pies.
Preheat oven to 220°C.
Place the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and chuck in the onion and garlic; sauté for 3 mins until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the celery, carrot, rosemary, bay leaves and thyme sprigs and sauté for 5 mins. Finally add the mushies and sauté for a further 5 mins.
Turn the heat to high and then it’s time to get all cheffie by deglazing (a fancy word for adding liquid to the pan to help scrape off all those tasty brown bits that are stuck to the bottom of) the pan with the vinegar. Add the tomato paste and tin tomatoes then sauté for 3 mins; season with the sea salt and black pepper.
Add the cooked lentils along with their cooking liquid (it’s tasty!). Simmer till there's only a small amount of liquid left. Whip out the bay leaf then mix in the parsley.
Pour the lentil mix into four single-serve oven-proof bowls or one big baking dish. Set aside while you get on with the mash – you know how to make that!
Just make sure the spuds are in plenty of cold, salted water and bring to a rapid boil. Cook 10–15 mins or till tender. Drain, then mash with butter and milk. Chuck in the parmesan, sea salt and white pepper for a real kick.
Smother the lentil mix with mash, then pop into the oven and bake your pies for about 15 mins or until the top is golden brown.
Then slather your pie with a really good tomato sauce (home-made if you can get your hands on some) and dig in!