Cheesy Potato & Red Lentil Pie
This is real comfort food on cold wintry nights. A great vegetarian alternative to traditional cottage/shepherd’s pie, perfect for meatless Monday’s or any night of the week for that matter!
Lentils are great source of plant protein & fibre which make them super filling. They’re also a good source of iron and folate which are very important for women’s health especially. The soluble fibre found in lentils helps to lower cholesterol, keep our bowels moving and our gut flora healthy. In a nutshell, lentils are an extremely valuable addition to our diet! And as a side bonus, they’re a super economical way to feed a family! Win Win all round!
My little boys love traditional shepherd’s pie (which they call ‘Leopard’s Pie’ – don’t ask why!) However I don’t eat much red meat so I wanted to have a vegetarian version in my recipe collection that we can all eat so I don’t have to make separate dinners! I was worried they might balk at the lentils but funny enough they didn’t, I never mentioned the word ‘lentils’ – just told them we were making a special version of ‘Leopards Pie’ and got them involved with mashing the potatoes, grating the cheese etc. so that they were more likely to eat a dinner they felt part of making if you know what I mean! I also think adding mash potato to just about anything is a winner for kids!
Being honest, It’s not the quickest dinner to make, however, because we are only 2 adults + 2 smallies, I get dinner for 2 nights out of this pie which is a major bonus for me. I’m a huge fan of double cooking dinners so that I don’t have to cook every single night especially with little people at my feet, it just means I’ve more time to do other things with them like play, homework, baths etc.
- The lentils sauce can be made in advance and kept in the fridge until you’re ready to add the mash.
- Although healthy & wholesome, this is a fairly high carb & high calorie meal, so, if you’re watching your weight, keep your portion size moderate and have a side of vegetables like petit pois, green beans or tender stem broccoli to bulk up the meal.
- 2tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large white onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large carrots, cut into half moons
- ½ tsp paprika (smoked paprika best)
- 1 cup dried red lentils
- 1tbsp. sundried tomato paste
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 2.5 cups vegetable stock/bouillon
- 900g potatoes, peeled & quartered (Roosters/Maris Piper mash well)
- 2tbsp. butter
- 6tbsp. milk
- 200g white cheddar cheese, grated
- 2/3 tsp. salt
- Black pepper to taste
Optional additions: a few fistfuls of baby spinach and/or ½ cup petit pois added just before the lentils are finished cooking or 2 celery sticks finely chopped, added at same time as carrots. Mixing ½ white potatoes + ½ sweet potatoes works well as a nice combo for the mash.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for a few minutes followed by the garlic and then the carrots. Stir fry for a few minutes then mix in the paprika followed by the sun-dried tomato paste.
Stir in the lentils followed by the stock. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for approx. 25 mins until the lentils have softened – stir regularly throughout cooking time to avoid the lentils sticking to the base of the pot. Add a little extra water if needed.
Pour the mixture into the baking dish and leave to cool before adding the mash (this helps the mash adhere to the sauce but stops the dish from becoming too sloppy and running into each other)
Preheat the oven to 180 oC.
Put the potatoes into a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, add salt, and simmer for 15–20 minutes until nice and tender but not overly cooked. Drain and leave to sit in colander while you melt the butter in the same pot, stir in the milk then tip the potatoes back in and mash until nice and smooth. Season with black pepper and stir in the grated cheese.
Spread the mash over the lentil sauce. Use a fork or knife to create a textured effect if desired. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden & bubbling. I finish by sticking the pie under a hot grill for a few minutes to get that extra gold & crispy effect – Yum! 🙂
Elsa Jones is a qualified Nutritional Therapist & author of bestselling book ‘Goodbye Sugar’. She does consultations in a Dublin clinic and internationally via skype. Check out Elsa’s Online Nutrition & Weight Management Programs.