Sunday, January 5, 2014

Lentil Shepherd's Pie for Two

On Sunday afternoons my husband and I used to head over to our local British Pub to watch the game, drink a couple of Harps and indulge in pub fare.  He always ordered bangers and mash, or fish and chips and my favorite was shepherds pie!  I cringe now thinking about how unhealthy we were eating. So now we still enjoy going to the pub, but we come home and I make our own favorites.

You can make shepherds pie with tempeh, seitan, TVP or just veggies, but I like using lentils.  Lentils are full of fiber, iron and protein and are good for the heart!  My favorite lentils to purchase are black beluga or French green lentils because they hold their shape during cooking.  But my local market didn't have any and so I purchased the brown lentils instead.  When cooking brown lentils don't follow the directions on the package and cook for 25-30 minutes because you will end up with mush.  I bring four cups of water to a boil, stir in 1/2 cup lentils, bring to boil again, remove from heat, cover and let sit for 20 minutes--they are perfect every time!

Look past my dirty oven (it gets used quite a bit) and see the ramekins bubbling in the oven, almost ready to come out.  I add peas to the mixture, but I also like adding more when I pull them out of the oven for color and freshness.  For the mashed potatoes, you want them to be stiff especially if you are going to pipe them into a design.  If they are too loose they will spread out and deflate while baking.  I used 3 medium sized organic russet potatoes, mashed with Earth Balance butter and cashew cream (see below) and nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor.  Finally, garnish with fresh parsley or chopped chives.

Brown Stock/Sauce:

4 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup red wine
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
4 whole peppercorns
4 cups vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Brown mushrooms and onions in a sauce pan with 2 tbsp olive oil, add garlic and red wine and reduce until wine is almost gone
  • Stir in tomato paste and all all other ingredients and cook on medium for about 30 minutes until reduced by half and dark brown and rich in flavor
  • While sauce is cooking start lentils (see above), drain and set aside

4 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup of small diced carrots
1/3 cup of small diced celery
1/2 cup of small diced onion
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme minced
2-3 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Earth Balance Butter melted with 1 tbsp flour to create thickening paste
2 tbsp cashew cream (1/2 cup soaked cashews, drained with 1 cup water, blended in a high speed blender until smooth)
1 cup cooked lentils (see above)
1/2 cup frozen peas (plus more for garnish)
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley or fresh chives for garnish

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Add olive oil and mushrooms to a medium sized sauce pan and cook until brown
  • Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook until soft
  • Strain brown stock/sauce into pan pressing on solids to release all the juice and add cooked lentils and stir to combine
  • Depending on how thick the sauce is you may need to add the beurre manie (butter and flour mixture to thicken--I whisked in about 1 tbsp)
  • Add cashew cream and salt and pepper to taste
  • Just before filling ramekins stir peas into mixture
  • Make mashed potatoes (see above) and pipe on top of mixture
  • Bake until bubbling about 20-25 minutes
  • Garnish with peas and chopped herbs and enjoy along with a cold Harp beer or a glass of red wine!  And don't forget to turn on the game! 

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