Growing up in a British food (and might I add beer) loving family I had my fair share of fish and chips, curries and shepherd’s pies. Brits aren’t known for the most healthy of foods, but my mom always put a healthy spin on them when possible. It wasn’t until I left the house that I realized how much I would miss my mom’s home cooking! One day she served a version of shepherds pie made with lentils instead of the traditional ground beef. It was AMAZING! Since then I’ve always wanted to recreate it in my kitchen, but my mom, being the kind of cook she is, had no recipe (we Braid cooks just eyeball everything) so I went to work! This recipe is versatile and I truly believe you could throw whatever veggies you have in the fridge fresh, canned or frozen. To all the cooking virgins out there, before cooking lentils, make sure to always sort and rinse with water first (I’ve actually found little rocks in the bags before).
For my shepherd’s pie I like using sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes because I love the taste of them and they have more nutritional benefits, but feel free to use either. This recipe is both vegetarian and gluten free!
Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
1 cup dry lentils washed and sorted
2 or 3 sweet potatoes peeled and cubed
1/2 an onion diced
1/2 a zucchini chopped
1/2 bell pepper chopped
1/2 bag baby spinach
2 TBS + 1 tsp olive oil
2 celery stalks minced
1 large or 2 small carrots minced
1/2 cup of corn or peas
1/4 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic
3/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk or any milk substitute)
1 tsp balsamic vinaigrette
Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 and spray an 8×8 glass baking pan. To cook lentils combine 1 cup of lentils with 4 cups of water and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes until tender. Meanwhile, place sweet potatoes in a separate pot with a pinch of salt and cover with water. Boil over medium heat until tender and drain (20 minutes or so). Add milk and 1 tsp olive oil, mash and set aside. In a sautéing pan heat 2 TBS of olive oil over medium heat. When oil is heated add onions and sauté for a minute or so until tender. Add bell pepper, zucchini, celery, carrots, spinach and the remaining spices/seasonings and cook stirring occasionally for an additional 5 minutes or so. Add the crushed tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette along with the cooked lentils and simmer on low heat for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer lentil mixture to the greased baking pan. Top with mashed sweet potatoes and cook for 30 minutes or until the topping begins to crisp.