This is a vegetarian (and easily vegan) version of a shepherd’s pie. It’s full of green lentils (the big flat kind, not puy) which are so good for you, as well as being really economical – this whole dish would be such a cheap way to feed a family of four, as well as being nutritious, warming, and most importantly, delicious. Plus it’s not spicy, so there’s nothing in here which should pose too much of a challenge for picky kids. If you’re stuck for a vegetarian or vegan Sunday lunch idea, then look no further.
NB: I crumble the dried porcini because I hate mushrooms, but they do lend a really lovely earthy, savoury flavour to this pie. If you’re also mushroom adverse, I’d urge you to try them like this, you would never know they were in there, promise. And if you do like mushrooms, feel free to add some fresh button or chestnut mushrooms to the mixture at the same time as the onions, celery and carrot.
Lentil Farmer's Pie
- Generous splash veg oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 sticks celery, diced
- 1 carrot, diced (no need to peel it)
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 200g green lentils (the big flat ones, not puy)
- 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 5g dried porcini mushrooms
- 800ml boiling water
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- Big handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- Salt and black pepper
- 700-800g baking/mashing potatoes (King Edwards, Maris Pipers etc)
- 60g unsalted butter (or olive oil if making it vegan)
- Heat a generous glug of vegetable oil in a large saucepan, then add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic, and saute it all over a medium heat, stirring frequently for 6-7 minutes until the onion is starting to soften and go translucent.
- Crumble the dried porcini mushrooms into a jug, so they’re fine crumbs, then add the 800ml boiling water and leave to sit for 5 mins.
- Stir the tomato puree and lentils into the saucepan, then add the tinned tomatoes and mushrooms with the water. Bring the contents of the pan to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for about 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are tender. You might need to add a bit more boiling water if it is looking dry before the lentils are cooked; stir it frequently and gradually add more water a little at a time until the lentils are cooked. I added an extra 100ml water, you may need a touch more or less than that. (Don’t be tempted to swap the water for stock, as the salt in it will make the lentils tough – always best to add salt at the end of cooking with pulses.)
- Once the lentils are cooked, stir in the soy sauce, fresh parsley, and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Transfer it to an oven-proof dish.
- Peel and boil the potatoes in salted water, then drain once tender and mash with the butter or olive oil. Season them well with salt and black pepper, then top the lentil mixture with the mash, roughing up the top of it with the tines of a fork, to make for delicious crispy bits.
- Bake at 180’c for about 30-40 mins, until the mash is browning nicely and the pie is piping hot all the way through. Serve immediately, with hot buttered peas.
Use olive oil instead of butter in the mashed potato to make this vegan.