Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lentil and Corn Shepherd's Pie

Lately I've really been into lentils. Lentils are great because unlike other legumes they don't require long soaking in water or a long cooking time. You can just pop them in a pot with water and in about 20-30 minutes, they're ready.

In this recipe, lentils are used an alternative to ground beef, in a somewhat unconventional version of the British classic. I based my recipe roughly on this one.

Make sure you season this well, because both potatoes and lentils can be a bit bland when under-seasoned.

Lentil and Corn Shepherd's Pie

Ingredients (for 4 portions): 

- 1 cup of uncooked brown/green lentils (by this I just mean regular lentils - but not red ones)
- 2-3 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks (2 if you don't like a lot of mash, 3 if you do)
-1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced or finely diced
- 2 tbsp corn starch or flour
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- about 300 grams (10 oz) of frozen or canned corn kernels
- A few tablespoons of milk (or milk alternative)
- Two handfuls of shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
- seasoning: salt, pepper, chili powder, or whatever seasoning you prefer.


1. Put the lentils and enough water to cover them plus a bit extra in a small pot. Season with salt and cook on medium-low heat, until the lentils are tender but not mushy (they can still have a bit of a bite to them). In the meantime also put the potatoes in a large pot, cover with plenty of water, season with salt, and cook until the potatoes are soft enough to mash. The potatoes will probably need to cook about until you finish the rest of the recipe. The lentils will take a little less.

2. When the lentils are ready, drain them if there is any excess water (if not, just leave them be). In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and then cook the onion and garlic until they are softened, about 2 minutes. Add the cornstarch and stir to coat the onions. Add the broth, the lentils and the corn. Season well so that the mixture is to your taste. Spoon the mixture into an oven-safe glass or ceramic pan, medium sized (9X14 inches is good, but any other decent size will work). Preheat oven to 350 F/180 C.

3. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot or place them in a bowl. Using a wooden spoon, a fork or a handheld blender, mash the potatoes into a mash with slightly chunky consistency. Stir in the milk until the mash is slightly looser and creamier. You can also stir in the cheese if you are using it.

4. Spoon large spoonfuls of the mashed potatoes directly on top of the lentil mixture and spread it around so that the lentils are covered. However, leave a few small holes to allow steam to escape during baking. Place the pie in the oven for about 45 minutes. If you want the potatoes to be a bit crispier and golden-brown, you can put the pie under a broiler for another minute or two at the end.


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