Lentil Shepherd's Pie

Today was quite a chilly, dreary day; the kind where it's not raining as much as spitting at you. Not something you'd expect for the end of April. So with finals on, I figured I could take the time to make something rich and filling to fight away the gray. This is about as close as I get to cooking. I got this recipe from one of my guilty TV pleasures, The Delicious Miss Dahl. It looked indulgent, fairly straight forward, and vegetarian to boot. Perfect!

The Base:
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
2 carrots
1 celery stalk
14 oz crushed or cubed plum tomatoes
pinch of paprika
1 bay leaf
sprig of rosemary
1/3 cup red wine
1/3 cup vegetable stock
splash of tabasco
splash of balsamic
14 oz lentils

The Champ:
3 potatoes
1/4 cup milk
2 spring onions
1 oz butter
pinch of paprika
1 oz cheddar cheese

To make the Base:
1. Heat the olive oil, onion, garlic clove, carrots, and celery that have been finely chopped in a large sauce pan. Allow to cook 7-10 minutes on medium-high heat, till soft but not browned.
2. Add the plum tomatoes, paprika, bay leaf, rosemary, red wine, tabasco, vegetable stock, and balsamic vinegar, and cook for 5 minutes.

3. Stir in lentils, and take the pan off the heat.

To make the Champ:
4. Boil the potatoes for 15-20 minutes, till soft.
5. Fry chopped spring onions in butter till soft, add milk and heat for 1-2 minutes.
6. Mash the potatoes into the milk/onion mixture.
 I then put mine in a piping bag, so I could pipe it onto the pie. It didn't just look appealing, but the edging crisped well in the oven.

7. Place the base in a deep pan, then pipe or spoon the potato on top. Dot with cheddar cheese  hunks and dust with a little paprika.
8. In a 400 F oven, bake 25-30 minutes, till the cheese is melted and the champ has browned. Place the pie on a top rack or turn it to 425 F fan to speed up the crisping process.

Hearty, delicious, and one of the few recipes I have with barely any butter in sight. I call that a win. Enjoy!


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