Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

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.

lentils

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.

Bon Appetit!

Mee Goreng My Way

I love spicy food, and I also love noodles.  I’ve never been to Asia, but I can only imagine the amazing street food one can find there.  Bali has long been on my travel wish list, and I hope to make it there soon.  But in the meantime I’ll have to settle for a taste of their food that’s a little bit less authentic.

bedugul_bali

Indonesians eat nasi goreng (fried rice) for breakfast, or any time of day I think really.  And they also eat the fried noodle variety called mee goreng.  Both have their merits, but I think if I had to pick one I’d probably go with the nasi goreng.  The problem is that to make it you have to have cold rice on hand.  Don’t ever try making fried rice with freshly cooked stuff or you’ll end up with a gummy mess.

Last night, I didn’t have leftover rice, but I really wanted something spicy and Indo tasting. So inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe for Mee Goreng from Plenty, I set off on a culinary adventure.  It didn’t turn out quite like I had expected, but it was still really tasty, and everyone in my office thought it smelled amazing as leftovers.  My co-worker tried it and proclaimed that it was f*$#&$%^ delicious.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Also, keep in mind that I’m a white girl who is afraid to enter an Asian grocery store (another post to explain that one), so this came together with what I could scrounge up at my local North American style IGA.

Here’s mee goreng, my way:

Ingredients

  • 1 package Asian style egg noodles (or thin pasta would also work), cooked and drained
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 lb. french green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 1 package extra firm tofu, cut in half length wise, and then sliced width wise into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 large handfuls of shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp oyster sauce, or thick soy sauce (more depending on how ‘saucy’ you like things)
  • 2 spoon fulls of savoury chilli garlic sauce (the stuff you make your chilli chicken with is no good here)
  • Lemon wedges
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro loosely chopped
  • 2 cups bean sprouts

Get out your wok and put some oil in it (anything but olive works here due to high heat required for wok cooking).  Fry up your onion a bit, and then add the green beans and tofu, add a bit of water, cover with a lid and let it steam for a few minutes.  Mind the heat so that things don’t burn.  You want a bit of marking on your tofu, but you don’t want it glued to the bottom of the wok.  Add the noodles, soy, oyster and chili sauces and combine it all together.  This may be challenging if your wok is small.  I ended up using about 3/4 of a pack of noodles because I had too many and spilling things over the sides as I mixed.

Once everything is cooked to your liking, add the lettuce, bean sprouts, and cilantro and squeeze a bit of lemon juice over it.  Heap it into a bowl and dollop a bit more chili sauce on top if you like and enjoy.  This one is cheap and easy and it will make your house smell like you’re on vacation in Bali.  Enjoy!

IMG_1270