This is one of my favorite comfort fooda, perfect for dinner on a drizzly miserable day like today. I enjoy it in the warmer months too, especially leftovers eaten cold for lunch the next day.
My mum made Shepherds Pie and Cottage Pie often during my childhood and my plant-based version is made to resemble her recipe, although I use cauliflower for the mashed topping and orange or red bell pepper in place of the carrots, tamarind pulp and red wine vinegar instead of the oxo cube and lentils of course, so really it’s totally different but if you squint it looks the same.
- 100g onion
- 130g bell pepper – I used orange to resemble carrots or if not available a red one
- 150g brown lentils, washed and picked through for stones and debris
- 50g red lentils, washed and picked through for stones and debris
- 350ml water – or veg stock if you prefer, you may need more than this amount
- 100g mushrooms, use any kind of mushrooms I used shitake.
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
- ½ tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 10g tamarind pulp (re-hydrated in 50ml hot water and pushed through a sieve)
- 2 tbsp mixed dried herbs – I used sage and thyme and marjoram
- Ground black or white pepper, to taste
- 580g cauliflower
- 15ml soy milk or other non-dairy milk
- Chop the onion and bell pepper finely and cut the cauliflower into florets.
- Water saute the onion until softened. Add the lentils, water or stock, the mushrooms and bell pepper to the pan with the onion and cook until the lentils are soft.
- Add the tamarind pulp and soaking liquid, the red wine vinegar, dried herbs and parsley to the lentils, stir to combine and simmer for 10 minutes. You may need to add a little more water/stock. Season with freshly ground pepper.
- Whilst the lentils are cooking cook the cauliflower. I use a bamboo steamer on top of the lentils but do whatever is convenient for you.
- Transfer the cooked cauliflower to a food processor together with a tablespoon of non dairy milk and process until smooth.
- Preheat the oven to 200c/390F.
- Spoon lentil mixture into an oven proof dish.Top with the mashed cauliflower and smooth down with the back of a fork and make pretty patterns on top with the fork.
- Bake in the oven for around 15 minutes until the top is crispy but not browning and the pie is heated through.
- Garnish with a sprig of parsley
I don’t always use cauliflower for the mash. I do occasionally indulge in a fluffy white potato topping. Mr Y prefers half cauliflower and half white potato for his topping, so often I use small individual dishes as in the picture below then everyone can have their preferred topping. You could also use sweet potato if you wanted, I tried it once but it didn’t work for me.
By the way with an all potato topping using the same quantity of potatoes as cauliflower in the above recipe the calories per serving would be 302 compared to 238 - a Shepherdess Pie, not a ShepherdLess Pie.
But then considering cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable and way more nutritious than white potato perhaps it should be called a Shepherdmore Pie .
Or perhaps not.