In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s fall. In Vancouver we’re still having warm days, but the rain is picking up, and the leaves are starting to come off the trees. That means it’s time to switch from salads to comfort foods, and one of the things I miss most being vegetarian is a good shepherd’s pie. It’s an easy thing to make, but getting enough protein can be difficult if you’re just using mixed veggies. So I came up with the idea of replacing ground beef or lamb with brown lentils. I think the brown ones hold up a bit better than green ones, and they retain a bit of bite, which I like.
I totally winged this one, and the result was nothing short of amazing…in my humble opinion. Unfortunately it didn’t photograph well, but I find un-photogenic foods often taste the best. I also haven’t fully raved about my new Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker on the blog yet, but let’s just say the mashed potatoes that have been coming out of my kitchen lately are some of the best ever. I decided to pack even more veggies into my shepherd’s pie and threw in a parsnip for fun this time.
Anyways, let’s get straight to the good stuff cause I gotta get back to work. Here’s my recipe for Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Parsnip Kale Mash.
For the mash:
- 3-4 big yukon gold or russet potatoes
- 1 large parsnip
- 1 small bunch kale, washed, stemmed and chopped
- 3 tbsp. butter (use less, use olive oil, whatever makes you happy here)
- 1/4 cup milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
Make the mash however you usually do, the parsnips and potatoes take the same amount of time to cook and are happy to take a hot bath together. Add in the butter, milk and kale when they’re done and whip them to perfection (if you were like me and had some leftover creme fraiche in your fridge you would also add that). In my pressure cooker I did them on the second red ring for 6 minutes and used the natural release method (yes, I am aware there are funny jokes to be made about these instructions). Set them aside and keep warm.
For the base:
- 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed, picked over and cooked until they are tender but retain some bite (about 15 minutes)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- 2-3 carrots, chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups chopped cremini or white button mushrooms
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 3 cups vegetable stock or water
Saute the onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms over medium heat for 7-10 minutes until tender. Add the garlic and bay leaves and cook 2 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper at this point, and add the tomato paste. Cook out the tomato paste a bit until it’s bubbly, then add the wine and simmer it down to reduce slightly. Add in the drained lentils and 2 cups of stock. Simmer for 20 minutes, adding more stock if it dries out. Continue cooking until lentils reach desired doneness. Cooking times may very with green lentils as well.
Once everything is ready and seasoned to your liking (don’t forget to remove the bay leaves), put the base into a 9 x 11 glass casserole dish and top with mashed potatoes. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes and let stand another 10. I drizzled a bit of white truffle oil on top, and you could also grate some Parmesan cheese.
You could make individual pies for a dinner party if you wanted…otherwise this casserole keeps really well in the fridge, and would also freeze well.