Many of us would consider Shepards Pie as a stable family dish throughout the winter, and many others have never even heard of it! Shepards Pie is a meat pie-like dish with potatoes being used as the upper crust. Traditionally, Shepards Pie is made with lamb and Cottage Pie is made with hamburger meat, but along the way, the dish, no matter which meat is inside, is commonly referred to as a Shepards Pie. I grew up with a beef Shepards Pie.
So here I am in my kitchen planning my weekly meal rotation trying to find the healthiest and most nutritionally packed options. Shepards Pie is great, but I want to cut down on my meat consumption, and why not try a potato alternative to reduce those carbs! For the vegetarian option, I have decided to use dark green lentils, and instead of mash potatoes, I am going to use cauliflower, this amazingly delicious versatile vegetable which can even be used as a pizza base!
I hope you will enjoy this recipe like my family has and that it becomes a part of your winter weekly meals.
What you need:
(source everything locally and organically where possible)
Turn on the oven to 350°F/Gas Mark 4
Rinse the lentils and place them in a large pot of water and bring to a boil. While waiting for the pot to boil, peel and dice the carrots and onions. Add the carrots, onions, peas and bay leaf to the pot of lentils. Once the water begins to boil turn down the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes with the lid off. Stir occasionally and add the Worcestershire sauce when you see the water to reduce.
Wash your cauliflower and remove the head from the leaves. As it is to be mashed you don’t need to carefully prepare it into florets but rather chop it up into cubes using a large kitchen knife. Like potatoes, you boil or steam your cauliflower, but for half the time. If you have a certain way you eat your mashed potatoes (with butter, cream, cheese, etc) then you can also prepare your cauliflower mash the exact same way. When I make my Shepards Pie I always mash with unsalted butter, but you can use margarine for the vegan option. The cauliflower will be ready when you can easily pierce it with a fork. Remember, if you decide to boil it keep the water as a stock for a soup! Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl and start mashing with a fork, adding in your butter or margarine. You can season it with salt and pepper if you wish.
When your lentils are ready, transfer them to your ceramic oven dish and using your versatile fork add on the layer of mashed cauliflower. Create a nice design with the fork and pop it into the oven for 15 minutes. Your dish should have a golden crispy look to it when you take it out (be aware - cooking times may vary depending on the appliance used)