Curious cottage pie with luscious lentils and root vegetable topping


Now I know that at least 50% of people reading my recipes will look at the title or ingredients for this dish and skip passed it and to be honest in the past, so would I.  I just decided I wanted to do something a bit different and as the current trend is all about vegan and vegetarian dishes I thought I would play around with these ingredients and see what I could come up with.  I have to say the results were fantastic, I did not miss the meat at all.  Of course, if you insist on having meat you could add minced steak or turkey to the base, although I would recommend you try it without.

INGREDIENTS

For the Base

2 teaspoons of rape seed, olive or vegetable oil.  You can use low-calorie spray oil to reduce the fat and calories further if needed.

2 medium red onions, finely chopped or blitzed in a food processor

2 sticks of celery, finely chopped or blitzed in a food processor

2 medium size carrots, finely chopped or blitzed in a food processor

1 roasted red pepper from a jar, finely chopped

3 large cloves of garlic, minced

one small glass of white or red wine.

1 sprig each of thyme and rosemary, stripped from stalks and roughly chopped

1 heaped tablespoon of tomato purée

1 400 g tin of green lentils

one packet of chestnut mushrooms, approximately 350 g, roughly chopped/sliced

a couple of generous handfuls of fresh spinach

1 heaped tablespoon of vegetable boullion or vegetable stock pot/cube.

A handful of dried porcini mushrooms soaked in hot water for 20 minutes.

Salt and black pepper

For the topping

1 butternut squash, peeled and  cut into chunks

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks

1 teaspoon of onion powder, optional

a handful of strong cheddar cheese, grated, (vegetarian, vegan or low-fat options if required)

METHOD

boil the sweet potato and butternut squash until soft

Fry the onions in a couple of teaspoons of rape seed oil for 10 minutes before adding the celery and carrot and continue to fry for another 10 minutes before adding the tomato purée, half of the garlic, chopped rosemary and thyme.  Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, add the wine and cook until all the liquid has reduced.

Toss in the Lentils, including the liquid, red pepper, dried and fresh mushrooms, together with the soaking liquid and vegetable bouillon powder and cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes.

Stir in the remaining garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.

This is the time to adjust the seasoning to your liking.  I like it with plenty of black pepper and a bit of salt.

Put the mixture into a lasagne dish or individual dishes, whatever you have to hand and top with the spinach.

Mash the root vegetables with the onion powder if using, top with grated cheese and place under a hot grill until golden and bubbling.

Allow to rest for a while before serving.

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