There’s something very homey and comforting about shepherd’s pie. I remember it from when I was a child; my mother made it, and the school sometimes served it up, too, back in the day when lunch wasn’t pizza and fries! Now, of course, I don’t eat the animal, but shepherd’s pie (sometimes called shepherdess’ pie) is still on the menu.
I tend to think of green/brown lentils as being a bit too austeire and vegan for my brood to enjoy, but as has happened in the past, I was wrong, and the dish has gone down a storm. Daughter #2 had seconds while declaring that it really needed cashew gravy to go with it as she didn’t fancy chutney. Well, I’ll figure something wet to serve it up with next time.
Last time I made shepherd’s pie, I made it with a meetoo filling (picture at the bottom of page), which was also good, but quite honestly, any of the thick stews that don’t rely on potatoes would work well topped with mashed potato.
2 bay leaves
1 cup (1/2 lb) of green/brown lentils
1/4 cup of dry white wine (or water)
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2-3 large carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal OR small head of cauliflower cut into florets
6 cloves garlic
1 tbsp garam masala or mild curry powder
dash of nutmeg
~14 oz tin of chopped tomatoes in juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 lbs baking potatoes
1 tbsp margarine
plain unsweetened dairy free milk, as needed for the mashed potatoes
Pick the lentils over for stones or other debris, rinse them, and put in a saucepan with about 2 pints of water and the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook until soft. (~30 minutes)
In the meantime, cook the onions and carrots/cauliflower florets in a frying pan with about 2 tbsp of wine to keep them from sticking. (You can use water, if you’d rather not use wine.) Add splashes of wine from time to time if the vegetables appear to be starting to stick.
When the onions have softened (~10 minutes), add the garlic and spices to warm through for a minute, then add the tomatoes, cilantro, and salt and pepper.
Once the lentils are soft, drain them. Stir the mixtures together, and allow to simmer gently, uncovered, for a few minutes to allow the flavors to combine, and the sauce to thicken.
Peel and cut the potatoes into 1″ dice.
Put the potatoes in a saucepan with lightly salted water to cover, bring to a boil, and simmer until soft (~10 – 15 minutes). Once soft, drain the potatoes, and mash by hand with with margarine and dairy free milk until soft enough to spread with a fork. Don’t use a food processor; the potatoes take on a glue-like consistency that isn’t appealing.
Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon the lentil mixture into a medium sized oven proof dish (e.g. medium lasagna pan).
Drop fork-loads of the mashed potatoes onto the lentil mixture, then spread evenly with the tines of a fork. Place under a hot broiler/grill to allow the ridges to brown slightly. Serve hot with veggie side dishes and gravy or chutney.