Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
Shepherds Pie was a staple of my British childhood. This is real comfort food for cold, damp English winter afternoons and long winter nights -- American ones, too! I don’t miss the meat in this tasty dish, and I bet nor will you. French lentils hold their shape and have meatiness to them. Instead of the traditional peas, I’ve used chopped mustard greens. The Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco give the pie richness rather than heat. You could use any cooked bitter or dark greens, like spinach, kale, or collards. For extra taste and nutrition, top the pie with mashed sweet potatoes.
Serves: 4-6 Prep: 30 - 45 min
3 large potatoes (Idaho, Yukon gold or sweet potatoes)
Butter or olive oil for potatoes, to taste
Nutmeg, to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 large carrots, scrubbed and cut into a small dice
2 sticks celery, cut in a small dice
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
2 cups French lentils, washed and picked through
4 cups water or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)
3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1 bunch mustard greens, stems stripped out, steamed and roughly chopped
2 teaspoon lemon juice
Unrefined sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1. Boil the potatoes in their skins until they are tender. Drain and mash with olive oil or butter to taste and a grind or two of nutmeg. Taste for seasoning. Set aside.
2. While the potatoes are cooking, over medium-high heat olive oil and sauté the onion, carrots, celery, and bay leaf in the oil until the onion starts to soften. Turn the heat down to low, cover and sweat the vegetables for about 8-10 minutes.
3. Uncover the pan. Bring up the heat to medium-high again. Add the garlic and a grind or two of black pepper. Sauté for a minute or two. Add the washed lentils. Mix and fry with the vegetables until they are well coated with oil and juices and take the flavors.
4. Add the tomato paste and cook until it starts to change to an orangey color. Add the stock, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cover. Cook for 10 minutes.
5. Add the Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, and half the parsley. Cover and cook about 10-15 more minutes or until the lentils have soaked up all the liquid and are tender but not mushy. Add a little water if the lentils look too dry or are still undercooked.
6. Add the greens and the rest of the parsley. Cook 5 minutes to heat through. Check for seasoning. Stir in lemon juice and spoon into an oven dish. Cover with mashed potato and brown under the broiler or on a high rack in a preheated oven (425 degrees). Let it sit for 5 minutes, then serve.