Here is a vegetarian alternative to one of our favourite dishes, cottage pie. The pie is made with lentils instead of meat, providing a lean source of complete protein that is low in saturated fat, contains no animal products, and provides a high intake of vegetables. Lean protein and vegetables make a nutritious and balanced meal. Topping it with a handful of pumpkin seeds adds a good source of zinc.
Cooking time: 1 hour
1 onion, diced finely
1 carrot, diced finely
1 leek, white part cut in half and sliced thinly
1 celery stick, diced finely
2 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 tbsp garam masala*
250g dried lentils (red, brown, Puy** or combination of all three)
400g can of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
500ml hot vegetable stock
100g frozen peas
2 cups baby spinach
350g sweet potatoes
100ml almond milk
4 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
handful of pumpkin seeds
Side vegetables to serve (for example broccoli or green beans)
Heat the oil in a saucepan, add onion, carrot, leek and celery and sweat them for 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic, thyme, rosemary, garam masala and lentils and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, paste and stock, stir well and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until the lentils are just soft. Stir in the peas and spinach, season and spoon into an oven proof dish.
Meanwhile, peel and cut the potatoes into evenly sized chunks. Boil in a pan of salted water for about 15 minutes, adding the sweet potatoes during half way of boiling, until tender. Drain, return to the saucepan, add hot milk and mash. Stir in the spring onions.
Preheat the oven to 200℃ (180℃ fan forced). Spoon the mashed potatoes on top of the lentil mixture, swirling the potatoes into peaks with a fork, so they crisp up in the oven. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and serve with extra greens.
* Garam masala is an aromatic mixture of different spices like cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, peppercorns, fennel, dried chillies (the quantities, combinations and variations are endless). It brings flavour and warmth to a dish.
**Puy lentils retain their shape when cooked and add a lovely peppery flavour to the pie.