This hearty one-pot dish is a wonderful hearty and nourishing meal to eat when the days are still cool and the nights are long. This is comfort food, La Crisalida style. Lentils are great for providing long-lasting sustainable energy and are a source of protein.
We use sweet potatoes in this recipe, but if you can´t find them, use normal potatoes instead.
This recipe serves 6-8 people, and contains a total of 2490 calories.
2.5 lb (4) large sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
6 parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
1/3 cup unsweetened almond, soy, rice or other non-diary milk
Black pepper to taste
4 tbsp olive oil (2 tbsp and 2 tbsp)
1 large onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
2 sticks celery, finely diced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1½ cup brown or green lentils, (dry which requires cooking see step 2, or precooked and drained)
1 tbsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup water or homemade (salt-free) vegetable stock
Place the sweet potatoes and parsnips in a large pan and submerge in cold water (there should be at least 1 inch of water over the vegetables). Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and allow the sweet potatoes and parsnips to cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until both vegetables are very fork tender. Drain, return the sweet potato and parsnips to the pan and add a few tablespoons of the milk, 2 tbsp olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mash well with a potato masher. You can add more milk if you want a smoother, creamier consistency. Set the mashed sweet potatoes and parsnips aside.
While the sweet potatoes are cooking, place the lentils into a large pan and cover with 3 cups water; bring to the boil. Reduce the heat down to a simmer, and leave the lentils to cook, so they become soft (about 30-45 minutes depending upon the type of lentils used). Set the lentils aside. (If you use pre-cooked lentils, you can omit this step). If you want to add a little more flavor to the lentils, you can add in some chopped spring onion or leek, and some herbs (maybe 1 tsp rosemary or thyme) at the start of the boiling process.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent and golden (about 10 minutes or so). Add the carrots and celery and cook until both vegetables are tender (another 8 minutes). Add the mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes before adding the lentils, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and ½ cup of water or vegetable broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring well, and leave to cook for 5-10 minutes. Add more liquid as needed: not too much (because you’ll get a runny shepherd’s pie), but you do want it to be quite moist. If the mixtures seems too watery, leave it to cook for a little longer (uncovered), stirring frequently, to allow the water to evaporate.
Preheat the oven to a moderate heat (gas mark 4, 350 degrees Fahrenheit, 180 degrees Celsius).
In a large casserole dish, add the lentil and veggie mixture to the bottom. Spread the mashed sweet potatoes and parsnip delicately and evenly over the top of the lentil mixture. If you want to give the effect of cheese on the top of the pie, you can grate some parsnip onto the top – it looks like grated cheese and will turn a little golden brown in the oven. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are starting to brown. Sprinkle with extra rosemary, if desired, and serve. We love to serve this shepherds pie with some big florets of broccoli, flash-steamed kale and peas. Yum!