Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

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
  1. Soak the lentils in 2 cups of water for 1 hour. Drain then set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. Heat the onion to 400F
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
Enjoy!
Advertisements

French Lentils with Feta

I had a bit of a bloggers dilemma while considering writing this post. This is one of my favourite meals, it’s easy to put together, it’s made entirely from pantry items, and it’s delicious. So why would I hesitate?

Well, it ain’t sexy. I stuck a parley sprig garnish on it because while I was taking the pictures all I could think was “man, that’s brown”. Brown food is a tough sell. What does sells in the food blogging world is dessert. If you need proof  have a look at the FoodBuzz Top 9 on any given day; it’s heavily slanted towards sweets, but honestly who can eat that much sugar and maintain any semblance of health?

Don’t get me wrong, I love dessert, but most of what I eat is more along the lines of this meal. Simple, healthy, and still delicious. So I decided to share my boring lentil recipe with you, even though it won’t spike my traffic, because it’s good, and I love it, and you should try it.

French Lentils with Feta

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup French Lentils
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • feta, crumbled
  • parsley to garnish
  • brown rice to serve with
  1. In a pot over medium high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic, cooking until fragrant.
  2. Add the lentils and vegetable broth. Season with salt, pepper and thyme.
  3. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the lentils until cooked (about  to minutes)
  4. Serve over brown rice, topped with feta and parsley. Don’t skimp on the feta, it makes the meal.

Enjoy!

Curried Carrot and Lentil Soup

I received a comment on my Roasted Tomato post that got me thinking. Tiffany of Como Water wrote that January is 1/12 of my life and I should find a way to enjoy it. I had never thought of it that way. To me winter has always been something I need to survive to get to the good stuff. I decided to try to figure out what it is about the winter that bothers me so much. Basically it comes down to two things; the dark and the cold. It’s pitch black when I wake up in the morning and its pitch black when I leave the office at night. The darkness is depressing and tiring. And then there’s the cold. Yuck. I’m one of those people who thinks a hot humid day is heavenly. The cold makes me, well, cold. And tense. Every time I step outside I can feel all of my muscles contracting, and they stay stuck that way all day.

So what can I do about this? My first solution is to spend some time outside and enjoy what little sunshine there is. I’m thinking walks at lunch could cover this. The second solution is to stay warm. If I’m going to enjoy my walks I need a good coat (can you say Canada Goose?).

And I need nice warm bowl of soup when I get home at night.

My first soup of the month is Curried Carrot and Lentil. It was kind of  an experiment as I had no recipe to follow, but I think for the first time a non baking experiment has worked for me. The carrots and red lentils are a great base to the soup, the curry and cayenne and some nice heat, and the coconut milk adds just the right amount of creaminess. I think it’s perfect to come home to on a cold January night.

Curried Carrot and Lentil Soup

  • coconut oil or olive oil for frying
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated (can be substituted with powder)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 3/4 cup lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • plain yogurt for serving
  1. In a large soup pot, sautee the onions and carrots for 3 – 4 minutes until the onions have softened.
  2. Add the mustard seeds, curry, and ginger. Cook, stirring to keep the onion from burning, until the mustard seeds start to pop.
  3. Add the cayenne and lentils, then add the broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Let cool, then puree with an immersion blender or blender until smooth.
  5. Serve topped with yogurt.

Enjoy!

Carrot and Lentil Salad

Have you ever eaten so much junk you feel like you need to eat vegetables all day to clean out your insides? Maybe that’s just me. I ate an awful lot of sugar cookies this weekend, on top of a delicious but probably not so healthy meal at the Dominian Square Tavern (loved the corn fritters and homemade ketchup), so I felt like I needed a healthy veggie based meal.

Enter this Carrot and Lentil Salad. I based it very loosely on a recipe from Food and Wine. When I say based I mean I remembered seeing a salad with carrots, tomatoes and chickpeas. I didn’t have any chickpeas on hand, so I substituted lentils.

Carrot and Lentil Salad

  • 1 cup french lentils
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4-5 carrots, shredded
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook the lentils: In a medium sized pot, sautee the onion until translucent. Add the lentils then cover with two cups of water. Add oregano, bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then simmer until the lentils are cooked. Drain any excess liquid.
  2. Toss the lentils with the carrots and tomatoes. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

Spicy Red Lentil Patties And A Lovely Long Weekend

I love long weekends. You may think  that is a silly statement, but it’s not, one of my coworkers actually does not like them because he gets bored. Crazy, eh?

My weekend was anything but boring. It started with cousins dinner Friday night. We went for tapas at Sala Rosa and had a delicious meal. I will soon be attempting to replicate the fried goat cheese with honey and onion confit. And if I’m feeling adventurous I may even attempt the mussels with bacon and cream sauce.

Some friends from Ottawa came into town Saturday to watch the hockey game, which the Habs sadly lost (the Habs are also losing as I write this, my theory is if I pay less attention they might tie the game). Sunday we had a lovely picnic on the mountain. I would have written about the food we ate, but we gobbled it up so fast I wasn’t able to get any pictures.

Needless to say, we overindulged a little. To make up for those indulgences, I decided to make myself a nice healthy lunch today, red lentil patties.

Spicy Red Lentil Patties

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp cummin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, cover the lentils with water by about two inches. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Drain lentils.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, fry the onion and garlic.
  3. In a large bowl, combine lentils, onion mixture and all other ingredient.
  4. Form the mixture into burgers.
  5. Put the patties on a greased baking sheet and broil 4-5 minutes on each side.

The patties were very tasty, and were quick and easy t o make. I had them with plain yogurt, but they would have been great with something like tzaziki.

(My theory on ignoring the Habs turned out not to work, congrats to the Flyers, tomorrow I will be making comfort cookies)