Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Easy Vegan Shepherdless Pie

Golly gosh, it has been yonks since I posted a recipe. I've been pretty lazy with my cooking over the summer, but with the days and evenings starting to turn chillier, I am back on the warm, comfort food train.

I'm looking forward to lots of hearty stews, soups, risottos and pies over the coming months. Mmm, mmm! Definitely one of the best things about autumn and winter!

Today I want to share a quick and easy shepherdless pie - shepherdless because it just so happens to be vegan. Like most things I cook, it is easily adaptable for different dietary requirements: use real butter and sprinkle cheese on top if you wish, or add real/vege mince if you want a meaty taste. Personally, I love it just the way it is - simple, wholesome and healthy. Not to mention tasty.

Easy Shepherdless Pie

1 leek, finely sliced (or 1 large onion, but leek is preferable)
1 or 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pepper, chopped (whatever colour you like - I used yellow)
1 medium carrot, chopped into small pieces
Handful of peas
1 can of brown/green lentils, drained
1/2tsp to 1tsp mixed herbs (or more, to taste)
1/2tsp dried rosemary (or more, to taste)
500ml vegetable stock 
Plain flour or cornflour

4 or 5 good sized potatoes, chopped
1 small/medium sweet potato, chopped 
Vegan butter (or whatever you want to use)

Heat a slosh of oil (I used rapeseed) in a large shallow pan, over a medium-low heat. Add the leek/onion, garlic and pepper, and sauté gently for a few minutes. Add the carrot and continue to cook for a few more minutes, until everything begins to soften. Meanwhile, put the potatoes and sweet potato in a large pan of water, to boil.

Add the peas and herbs, mix in and cook for a further couple of minutes. Chuck in the lentils and after several minutes, add the stock. 

It might seem like a lot of stock, but just turn down the heat a little and let it simmer away, which will evaporate some of the water. After about five minutes, sieve in plain flour one teaspoon at a time, to thicken the sauce. Mix in well. I used two teaspoons of flour, I think. It should look something like this - everything coated in a thick (but not stodgy) gravy.

Have a taste and add ground black pepper and more herbs if you like, to taste. You shouldn't need to add salt, due to the stock. Continue to gently simmer, stirring occasionally. 

The potatoes should be about ready, so drain and mash them with a generous blob of butter. Spoon the lentil mixture into an oven-safe dish, until about half/two thirds full. Top with the mashed potato and use a fork to make a pretty pattern - this will help give it a nice, crunchy top.

Place under a medium grill, until the top is browned and crispy. Serve with green vegetables of your choice.

Now, I'm not going to pretend this is the most attractive meal in the world, but it sure is yummy! And super filling, full of protein, fiber, vitamins...it's an all round winner!

What is your favourite thing to eat when the weather starts to turn cold?


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