Monday, May 23, 2011

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

I know this may seem shocking, but between the pounds of butter, sugar, and eggs that I go through each week, I occasionally make dishes involving vegetables.  Vegetables that are not hidden in muffins.  Because as adorable as those floating blob-people were in Wall-E, I do not aspire to be one of them.

Despite the fact that this involves 7 - 8 different kinds of vegetables (depending on whether you consider potatoes to be vegetables), it was really, really tasty.  It even tasted meaty.  I think it was the Worcesterschire sauce.  Or the mushrooms.  So add the mushrooms, even if you don't like them.  David hates mushrooms, and he had no idea they were in there.  Though I guess he does, now.

This dish is ridiculously filling, so even if it looks like there are four servings, there are actually probably enough servings to last two people an entire week.  I am not kidding.  As delicious as this was, by the time David and I finished all the leftovers, we never wanted to see another lentil again.  So if there are only two of you, and you're not big eaters, do yourself a favor and halve this recipe.  

Lentil Shepherd's Pie
Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
4 ounces (1 1/2 cups) shiitake mushrooms, chopped (I used baby bellas.)
1 zucchini, diced small ( 1 1/2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced (I skipped this, as I am not a garlic person)
1/2 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup carrots (about 3), peeled and diced small
3/4 cup du Puy lentils (also called French lentils), rinsed (I used green lentils.)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 recipe Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes (recipe below)

Heat the oil in a 4-quart pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, and saute them until translucent, about 4 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, zucchini, garlic, tarragon, thyme, salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes.

Add the carrots, lentils and broth. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring every once in a while.

By this point, the lentils should be tender, and most of the broth should be absorbed. (If that hasn’t happened, then keep the pot covered and simmer the lentils a while longer. Conversely, if the broth has evaporated and the lentils are not soft, then add a bit of water and simmer.)

When the lentils are soft, stir in the Worcestershire sauce, corn and peas. Let the mixture sit off the heat for 10 minutes or so for maximum flavor. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

To Serve: Spoon a cup of Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes into a bowl, and top it with a cup of lentils.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

2 russet potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets (1 pound, or about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 to 4 tablespoons vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place the potatoes in a 4-quart pot, and fill it with enough cold water to cover them, making sure there are about 4 inches of extra water on top (for when you add the cauliflower). Bring the potatoes to a boil.

Once the water is boiling, add the cauliflower, and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender.

Drain them in a colander, return them to the pot, and use a potato masher to mash them a bit.

Add the oil, 2 tablespoons of broth, and the salt and pepper. Mash a bit more. Use a fork to make sure all the seasoning are mixed well.

If needed, add another 2 tablespoons of broth. Taste, and adjust seasonings. Serve warm.

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