Like it or lump it, bikini season has gone, and it’s time for jumpers and cozy socks.
Just the thought of chilly weather makes me want to reach for a bowl of something warm and comforting. Thankfully, comfort food can be healthy, too.
I can think of no better meal than shepherd’s pie on a wintry night, but my recipe below differs from the one traditionally made because in place of lamb, I use a healthy and hearty filling of lentils, root vegetables, celery, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and herbs.
What I love about this dish is that it is warming and comforting and takes minimal effort to make; though it’s substantial and satisfying, it is healthy too.
Seren’s Vegan Shepherd’s Pie:
> 1.2kg floury potatoes, suitable for mashing, peeled and quartered >> 50mL vegetable oil >> 30g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, then drained (reserve the liquid) >> 250g puy lentils (pre-soaked) >> 50 g chopped walnuts >> 2 large leeks, sliced >> 2 small red onions, diced >> 4 medium carrots, diced >> 1 vegetable stock cube >> 3 garlic cloves, crushed >> 2 tbsp sundried tomato purée >> 2 tsp smoked paprika >> 4 sticks celery, chopped >> 1 small acorn squash, peeled and cut into small cubes >> 1tsp dried sage >> 1tsp dried parsely >> 2 tsp oregano >> 1 tsp marjoram >> 250g fresh mushrooms sliced >> 250g fresh young spinach >> 25mL white truffle oil
1. Put the peeled potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 40 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.
2. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy-based flameproof casserole dish. Add leeks, lentils, onions, carrots, and the stock cube and cook gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it starts to stick, reduce the heat and stir rigorously.
3. Once the vegetables are tender, but not mushy, add the garlic, sundried tomato purée, paprika, squash, and herbs. Stir and turn the heat up a bit, cook for 3 minutes, add the celery, then stir and add the walnuts and cook for few more minutes.
4. Add in all the mushrooms and mushroom stock. Add the spinach and stir well. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn off and set aside.
5. Mash the potatoes and stir through a drizzle of the olive and truffle oils.
6. Divide the filling into a pie dish and top with the mashed potatoes. Heat oven to 190 C/170 C fan/gas 5 (375 F) and bake the pie for 40-45 minutes until the top is golden and the filling is heated.
This is a dish best enjoyed piping hot, but it also freezes well and makes a great freezer standby meal. You can also add any fresh or frozen veggies you have to make this recipe, and I feel that making little adjustments is part of the fun in cooking and definitely what makes a recipe your own.