Save The Sheep Shepherds Pie
One of the reasons for committing to writing this blog was to continuously experiment with and add new dishes to our meal repertoire. Not all dishes that we post make regular appearances on our weekly meal plans, but it’s convenient to have a collection of recipes that we have enjoyed ready at hand. The past five weeks has seen us take a break from posting and while this commitment lingered in the back of my mind it manifested itself in the meals that we were eating. We had slipped back into preparing our favourite few meals with little deviation (dare one whisper – food rut!). While making our favourite dishes is comforting and easy – not to be sniffed at when cooking from scratch at the end of a long and exhausting day- it is not particularly exciting. I have found myself a little bored, thinking I can do more, ready to put some extra care into preparing something new or at least a little different.
This week’s recipe is for a meal that has never really featured in our household, it is a dish that I have enjoyed on occasion but not one that I would make at home. It is, however, in its original form at least, a fast favourite of those with a taste for the comforting blandness of the boarding school kitchen. Although this dish is not a “classic” in my frame of reference, it is a British classic, and sure to feature in our children’s culinary vernacular.
I am not sure why, but I seem to steer away from oven casserole type dishes despite using the oven quite frequently. While the dish as a whole does see me trying my hand at something new, I am using ingredients that are staples in our kitchen, expect for the potatoes (is that normal?). Mrs Green’s eyes lit up when I mentioned mashed potatoes. The flavour combinations should not be too foreign to our children, who are generally good eaters but don’t always take well to surprises.
We used brown lentils and mushrooms to replace the meat in the traditional version of this dish, and it works quite well, but for added texture walnuts would be a welcome addition. Red wine could also be used to add depth by replacing up to half of the veg broth. I use olive oil in the potato mash, but a splash of a plant based “cream” or a spoon of a plant based “butter” could be added for a creamier and more authentic texture. Rosemary from our garden was used to enhance the flavour of the dish but thyme or oregano would also work well.
- 1 cup brown lentils
- 4 tbsp olive oil, devided
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 stick celery
- 1 medium carrot
- 200g mushrooms
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 800g potatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 1/2 cups veg broth (we use water and bouillon)
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 180C (400F)
- Wash and chop the potatoes roughly to the size of golf balls and place in a large pot with cold water so that the potatoes are completely submerged. Bring to the boil add a tsp of salt and simmer for 30 min.
- Drain the potatoes and return to the pot and add 2 tsp olive oil and mash with a potato masher until smooth,
- Dice the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, rosemary and mushrooms and saute in a large lidded pot with 2 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Saute the veg on a medium heat until they have softened and the mixture has cooked down, aprox 10 min.
- Once the veg is ready add the broth, peas and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, cover and lower heat to a simmer for 30 min. or until the lentils are cooked. Once cooked, taste and season with salt and pepper. Check the pot every 10 min to see if more liquid is needed, add liquid (stock, water or wine) 1/4 cup at a time.
- Empty the lentil mixture into an oven proof casserole dish (our is square 23cm x 23cm , 9” x 9”)
- Allowing the mixture to cool a little will let it set to make spreading the potato mash easier.
- Carefully spread the potato mash evenly over the top of the lentil mixture.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 min or until the mash turns a golden brown.