Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

As is the want of any new vegan or veggie, you tend to find yourself looking for alternatives of all your meaty faves. In this Shepherd’s Pie, I’ve replaced the mince meat with lentils, which (like meat) are high in protein.

Protein-rich foods are great because they keep you feeling fuller for longer. Plus, both lentils and sweet potatoes are complex carbs, which help you maintain a steady blood sugar level and therefore minimise cravings. Finally, lentils have good levels of tryptophan – an amino acid that brings about feelings of calm and relaxation. For that reason, this meal is a great choice if you’re feeling stressed.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium or 0.5 very large sweet potato
  • Olive oil
  • 0.5 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 400g tin green lentils, drained and rinsed
  • o.5 pack chestnut mushrooms, chopped
  • large handful fresh parsley, finely chopped (incl stalks)
  • 2 tsps ground allspice
  • 1 veg stock cube
  • 2 tbsp dried mixed herbs
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 dry bay leaf
  • Grated vegan cheese (optional)

Method

  1. Peel and chunk the sweet potato. Steam for around 20 mins or until soft.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saucepan then throw in the onion. Fry to soften, stirring occasionally to stop it from burning.
  3. Add the garlic, celery, carrot, green lentils and mushrooms. Stir to ensure the oil covers all the veg, lower the heat and stir occasionally for about five mins.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan).
  5. Sprinkle in the parsley, allspice, stock cube and mixed herbs then pour in the chopped tomatoes along with the bay leaf. Swill a little tap water in the tomato tin and splash that in too. Stir well. Turn the heat up until bubbling then reduce the heat and simmer for about twenty mins to allow the flavours to infuse. Season to taste.
  6. The sweet potato should now be ready. Mash it will a decent glug of olive oil and seasoning.
  7. The lentil mix shouldn’t bee too liquidy – if it is, continue to cook on a medium heat to reduce it down. Once you’re happy with it, spoon it evenly into an oven proof dish (around 26cm). Put the the mashed sweet potato on top and spread it so it’s relatively flat. If you’re adding the vegan cheese (I’d recommend some kind of parmesan imitation), sprinkle this on top now.
  8. Bake for around 30-40 mins. If the cheese looks like it’s burning at any point, loosely fit some tin foil on the top and continue cooking.
  9. Take out and allow to cool for five mins or so as it makes it easier to serve. This dish goes really well with leafy green veg like wilted spinach or broccoli.

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