This is warm, hearty, vegetarian or vegan, savoury pie, inspired by a traditional British shepherd’s pie with a French twist. I use French Puy lentils because they hold their shape in cooking.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra
- 300g banana shallots, peeled and sliced
- Sea salt and ground white pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 250g Puy lentils, rinsed
- 1½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1tsp tamari soy sauce
- 2 Knorr vegetable stock cubes dissolved in 500 ml of boiling water
- 1 Punnet of wild mushrooms
- 1 stick of celery chopped
- 250g Petit pois
- 75g grated parmesan
- Half bottle red wine (I like to use red wine from Bordeaux as it is a full-bodied wine but any other full-bodied red wine will do)
Paris cauliflower mash:
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled and smashed
- 1½kg floury potato, such as King Edward or Maris Piper, peeled and cut into even chunks
- I small cauliflower cut into florets
- 125ml milk
- 125ml pouring cream
- 150g butter, at room temperature
- Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the sliced shallots and sauté until they are just starting to soften. Continue cook-ing and lower the heat, keep stirring the shallots until they are light golden brown. Don’t let them go dark brown as they will be bitter. Add a splash of water if the onions start to dry or stick to the pan.
Increase the heat back to medium. Add the thyme, bay leaf, mushrooms, peas and garlic to the pot and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and stir. Cook for about one minute. Add the lentils to the pot and stir. Then, add the balsamic vinegar and tamari to the pot. Add the red wine and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by a third.
Add the vegetable stock to the pot and stir once more. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and then cook until lentils are tender, about 25-30 minutes. There should be just enough liquid to surround the onions and lentils. Add more vegetable stock if necessary.
Remove the bay leaf from the pot and allow to cool slightly before transferring to an oven-safe skillet or other baking dish. Set aside
Make the Paris cauliflower. Fill a pot with water up to half way and bring it up to a boil. Pop the smashed garlic cloves in the water. Place the potatoes and cauliflower directly into the pot and boil for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain and let them stand in the colander for about 5 minutes. Return them to the pot – you can keep the garlic in or toss it- it’s your choice!
Add the butter, milk and cream and salt and pepper to taste. At this stage you can use non-dairy milk and plant-based butter for a vegan option. Using a potato masher, mash the cauliflower and potatoes until smooth and creamy, adjusting the seasoning if necessary – set aside.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Take the lentil base and smooth it out, then dollop the creamy cauliflower and potato mash on top. Carefully spread the mash out over the surface of the lentil base and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. (Or vegan parmesan)
Bake the shepherd’s pie for 25 minutes, or until bubbly and totally heated through. You can put it under the grill for extra browning if you like. Remove the pie from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving with the petit pois.
Welsh honey Roast vegetables
A side dish of roasted local carrots, parsnips and cauliflower, pumpkin and tender stem broccoli, makes a perfect accompaniment for my vegetarian/vegan shepherd’s pie
- 1 small pumpkin cut into half moons
- 4 parsnips peeled
- A bunch of carrots
- 1 small cauliflower
- 5-6 tender stem broccoli
- 4 tbsp extra virgin oil
- 4 tbsp clear honey/maple syrup
- Rock salt and ground white pepper
- Dry oregano
- Garlic and rosemary
Top and tail the parsnips and cut into 4 pieces lengthwise. Cut the cauliflower into chunky florets, top and tail the carrots. Wash the pumpkin to remove any seeds. Line a couple of roasting trays with baking parchment (this makes the washing up easier). Season all the vegetables with the dry spices and herbs.
Put the carrots and pumpkin onto one of the roasting trays and the parsnip and cauliflower onto the other. Roast the carrots and pumpkin for 25 minutes and then drizzle with some of the honey and return to the oven for another 5 minutes. The parsnip, broccoli and cauliflower don’t take so long to cook so allow them 15 minutes, drizzle with honey and return to the oven for 5 minutes.
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