Sunday, 28 October 2018

Lentil & Red Wine Shepherds Pie





I think a large part of English culture is cooking traditional family meals, like this, that are guaranteed to fill everybody up. And they're always meaty. Which poses an issue for those of us who have decided to cut out their intake completely, or (like me) think it's important to at least reduce our consumption, but really don't want to miss out on the hearty dishes we've always eaten.

Over the last two years I've stocked up on several vegetarian cook books to inspire this new venture, including The Hairy Bikers Go Veggie, which is a brilliant book because it's definitely written for meat eaters transitioning. (Well, it's marketed as a diet book so I just ignore the low fat commentary). My favourite chapter is the "we miss meat" bit, because they make a point to cook really hearty, traditional recipes, reinvented. And this shepherds pie is based on their Mushroom and Lentil Ragu, which means the leftover 'mince' would be lovely over spaghetti!

Maddeningly, I couldn't find the book anywhere. I don't know where the heck it could be, because it couldn't have left the house. Regardless, I know their ragu almost off by heart at this point, so the pie proceeded.

The marmite, coco powder and cinnamon are flavourings of my own which I think bring out a deeper flavour, and the parmesan (note that you'll need to source a vegetarian version) really makes the dish.

I used both Quorn and tinned brown lentils for this post, so thats half of each stated, however you can use one or the other if you like!




Recipe


Again, if you like lentils go for the two tins, and if you like meat-free mince go for 300g OR a combination of both. I used 1 tin of lentils and 150g of Quorn mince.


Most supermarkets tend to do this little root veg medley which is perfect for this dish! The swede adds something a bit more interesting to the mash, it's just an idea!

Method

TIP: If you're not using tinned lentils, cook them first, drain, and leave them to one side. If you cook them with the rest of the 'mince' they might turn to mush!

First up: peel and dice your potatoes & swede into small chunks, add them to a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring it to a boil, and then reduce the heat so it simmers for the duration of the 'mince' cooking. About 20 mins. Pre heat your oven to 200C.

Dice you onion and celery and add to a large frying pan or casserole dish with some oil. Cook at a medium heat, taking care to not burn them.

Chop the mushrooms and carrots and crush the garlic, then add to the dish, stirring until everything starts to reduce. The mushrooms should let go of some water which will help with cooking. If not, add a little bit. If you're using quorn, add it once all the other ingredients are cooked.

After a minute or so, add the can of chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, sage leaves, oregano, a small glass of red wine and stir. Quorn mince doesn't take long to cook, and you don't want it to disintegrate. Allow this to simmer at a medium heat.

Here comes the rest of the seasoning! Add the marmite, coco powder and cinnamon. Make sure everything is stirred in, and taste test. If you're craving sweetness, a teaspoon of honey helps.

Once you're happy with the flavour, add the lentils and stir them through evenly, then remove from the heat and add the mince to an oven dish, filling it two thirds of the way up.

Drain the potatoes & swede and mash them up with a small lump of butter and splash of milk. Season with salt & pepper. Spread the mashed potato over the mince, and cover with grated parmesan. Add this to the oven straight away for 10 minutes to brown the mash and melt the cheese.

If you've prepped this and you're cooking from chilled, cover it with foil and cook for about 40 minutes. To check if it's cooked through, stab the middle with a skewer and see if it comes out hot.

Plating Up

Good luck lifting a portion out presentably, but you can definitely score points with added cheese and the rest of the red wine to drink.
























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