Today was a rough day at work. A new VP for my division was named a couple of months ago, and as always a change at the top means changes throughout. My department wasn’t directly impacted, but someone I worked for for years has been shuffled out. I respect her very much as a manager, and over the years I had come to see her as a friend. She has always been there to listen and offer advice. I’m not worried about her, but I am sorry to see her go. I hope our office friendship has what it takes to be a real friendship.
The announcements and the feeling of uncertainty change always brings has me pretty down. It’s the kind of day that calls for comfort food. Shepherd’s Pie is a favourite of mine, one of those dishes that soothes the soul. I based this vegetarian version on a Chuck Hughes recipe. I’ve made this a few times, each with a little change. Originally I used goat cheese then switched to feta. I’ve also gradually be upping the sweet potato to regular potato ratio. I think all of my adaptations have led me to something pretty tasty.
Combining the sweet potato with regular potato allows the sweet potato flavour to shine through while the regular potato cuts down on the moisture. I really like the combination of lentils and spinach with the mushrooms, and I truly believe feta makes everything better. Well, almost everything.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
- 1 cup dried brown lentils
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 1 tsp rosemary
- salt and pepper
- 2 large yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup feta cheese
- 1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- olive oil for frying
- Soak the lentils in 2 cups of water for 1 hour. Drain then set aside.
- In a medium pot, fry the onion in olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add two cloves of garlic and fry until you can smell the garlic. Stir in the lentils, then cover with two cups of water. Add the bay leaf, thyme and rosemary, along with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 30 minutes (you can taste the lentils to test). Drain the lentils and set aside.
- In another medium pot, cover the Yukon Gold’s and sweet potatoes in cold water and add salt to taste. Place over medium heat, bring to boil and cook until both kinds of potato are tender then drain. Mash the potatoes with the butter and milk, then crumble the feta and mix it in. Set aside
- Heat the onion to 400F
- While the oven is heating prepare the spinach and mushrooms. In a medium pan, fry the mushrooms with the final clove of garlic until browned. Stir in the spinach, season with salt and pepper, then stir in the lentils. Remove from the heat.
- Spoon the lentil mixture into a baking dish, then top with the mashed potatoes. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top starts to brown.