There’s a crispness to the air, the light is waning earlier and it feels like summer isn’t going to surprise us by an about turn with an Indian heatwave. My slippers are waiting in the wings, the long PJs are out and I’ve unpacked my jumpers. Despite the briskness and being somewhat reptilian and needing sunshine to warm my bones, there is something strangely nostalgic and comforting about the chill in the air. Something that makes me turn to traditional British food, comfort food with a vegan twist.
My craving today was for cottage pie, using green lentils with lots of chopped mushrooms, carrots and courgettes for the filling. For those who need the distraction, using herbs traditionally associated with meat flavours, like rosemary and thyme, tends to fool the mind into not noticing the absence of meat. I’ve used these with a split pea base to create a vegan sausage that tastes delicious.
VEGAN COTTAGE PIE
2 tins of green lentils or 1.5 cups dried lentils, cooked
1 carton of chopped tomatoes (try wherever possible to go organic when it comes to tomatoes)
1 courgette, chopped
2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
1 small box mushrooms, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 pinches of salt
1 tblsp vegetable bouillon powder or stock cube
5 medium potatoes
4 cups of cooked pumpkin/ butternut squash
1 tblsp of vegan margarine or use oil.
glug of vegan milk
– preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
– pierce the skin a couple of times and pop the whole pumpkin or butternut squash into the oven to roast. Alternatively peel, chop and boil or steam.
– peel the potatoes, bring them to the boil with a pinch of salt in the water and simmer until soft.
– Fry the onion, mushroom & garlic in a tblsp of coconut oil, in a large frying pan, on a medium heat and add the carrots when it starts to sweat and the mushrooms start to shrink. After a few minutes add the courgettes, lentils, tomatoes, herbs, pepper, salt & stock, stir and simmer for 10 minutes or so.
– Drain the potatoes and mash them with butter, oil and a pinch of salt.
– Once the pumpkin is roasted and soft in the middle, cut in half, scoop out the seeds with a spoon and add about 4 cups worth of pumpkin to the mashed potato and mash it in.
– Fill a large oven dish with the lentil mixture and cover the surface with the mashed potato mix
– put in the oven for about 30 minutes until the top is lightly browned and a bit crisp
– Serve with vegetables of your choice – cabbage, green beans, peas etc
Experiment mixing the green lentils with red or yellow ones to get a creamy texture, try different vegetables, use different herbs or spice it up with some chilli powder, cover the top with some vegan cheese or try with sweet potato mash.