I’ve really loved puy lentil week. I’m definitely going to use these little emeralds a lot more. To round off the latest “Ingredient of the Week” feature, I’m posting a recipe for a perfect, hugely comforting weekend dinner/ alternative Sunday lunch.
I know a lot of people can be reluctant to give lentils a go at all, especially if they’re not familiar with vegetarian food. But I’ve yet to meet someone who didn’t enjoy puy lentils when they tried them.
I serve this with my favourite mash – sweet potato. It works equally well with Celeriac Mash, a very creamy recipe for which you’ll find on iFoods.tv. I find the most important thing with mash is to make sure that the uncooked chunks are the same size, so they all cook evenly.
Cottage pie was always a childhood favourite, even though we were raised to call this minced beef based “Shepherd’s Pie”. I was traumatised a few years ago to discover I’ve never eaten Shepherd’s Pie, which uses minced lamb – but my Mum is not backing down!
If you’d like a meat-based Cottage Pie, I like Nigel Slater’s version, which uses red wine to make a gravy.
Puy Lentil and Vegetable Cottage Pie
This serves two greedy men, or three regular folk. It will take just over an hour to prepare, but most of that is simmering and cooking time, so you can read or watch TV. You can make this a day in advance, or make extra and freeze it.
I’ve broken down my Aldi receipt and reckon it cost just over €5 to put this together, or €6 when I add the amount of lentils I used from a 500g bag. Not bad at about €2 per very generous portion of really tasty and healthy food.
It’s substantial enough to serve alone, but I wanted to use up some spinach (which I wilted) and aubergine and courgette (which I chopped, tossed evenly in olive oil, sprinkled with Maldon sea salt and black pepper, and roasted for about half an hour).
For mash topping:
- 4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 large sweet potato or 3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into
- A big knob of butter
- About 20ml cream, or milk
- Freshly black pepper
- Freshly grated parmesan
For the base:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 100g (3.5oz) puy lentils, washed
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 1 leek, sliced
- 1 stick of celery, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 tin of tomatoes
- Around 10 fresh cherry tomatoes, chopped (optional)
- 200 ml vegetable stock
- A sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
- A sprig of very fresh thyme (weak stem, the best) chopped, or two sprigs of slightly older thyme (tougher stems) leaves only, chopped
- A dash of soy sauce
- Preheat oven.
- Peel the sweet and regular potatoes, chop, and place in seperate pots or bowls water.
- Boil the potatoes for about 5 minutes. Then add the sweet potato and cook both for about another 10 minutes, or until tender. When they feel tender with a fork or knife, they’re done.
- While you wait for them to cook, you can prepare the base. Heat the oil, toss in the leek, onion and garlic, saute for five minutes
- Add the carrots and celery, saute for another five minutes
- Toss in the puy lentils, toss for two minutes until they are well coated in oil.
- Add the tinned tomatoes and the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer for around 30 minutes or until lentils are cooked. After 20 of these minutes, add in the chopped fresh herbs. If the mix is getting a bit dry, add more stock.
- When the sweet potatoes and potatoes are done, mash together with the milk, cream, and butter.
- Spoon the lentil mixture into an overproof dish, and top with the mash, which should be cold by now.
- Grate fresh parmesan over the mash topping.
- Cook for 20 minutes at about 180 degrees Celsius/ 350 Fahrenheit/ Gas Mark 4, until the top is crispy and golden, with juice bubbling over the sides.