Cheesy sweet potato and lentil veggie shepherds pie

If ever there were a winter warmer in a baking dish, this vegetarian shepherds pie is it. Far from the traditional carnivorous mince and white potato combo, this jazzed up veggie version is bursting with fantastic flavours that will no doubt have you going back for seconds.

The pie’s filling is made up of a smooth and sumptuous red wine and onion sauce infused with thyme and thickened by hearty cooked lentils. The delicious cheesy sweet potato mash on top really makes the dish, making this the perfect comfort food for these cold, dark evenings.


As a kid I was never much a fan of shepherds pie. It’s one of those beige looking one pots that I dreaded seeing at the dinner table (sorry mum). It fills you up, but fails to fill you with excitement. I think my distinct dislike for it left me a bit apprehensive about trying it again as an adult. But the discovery of this recipe by BBC Good Food has converted me.

And praise the lord, brussel sprout season is upon us. Every year, I look forward to seeing those little green balls of joy on my plate, so I chose to serve the shepherds pie with sprouts roasted in olive oil with plenty of seasoning. Their earthy flavour works well against the sweet potato and rich red wine sauce. But if you’re not a fan of sprouts, you could choose a side of broccoli, kale or green beans instead.

Ingredients

  • 950g or 6 small-medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into small chunks
  • 1 large red onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g red lentils, rinsed under a cold tap
  • 2 vegetable stock cubes
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 200ml red wine
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into bitesize chunks
  • Enough grated cheddar cheese to cover the top
  • A knob of butter
  • Plenty of seasoning

Preparation time: 5-10 minutes (depending on your vegetable peeling speed)
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves 4

Method

  1. Put a large saucepan of water on to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, pour the oil into a frying pan and put it on a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for five minutes, stirring regularly.
  3. When the water has boiled, carefully lower the sweet potato into the saucepan and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the sweet potato has softened enough to be mashed.
  4. While the sweet potato is cooking, add the carrot and thyme to the frying pan and stir in with the onion. Then pour in the wine, 150ml of water and chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil, stirring everything in together. Crumble in the stock cubes, then simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Put the oven on to gas mark 6. At this point, if you’re roasting sprouts, prepare them and put them in the oven.
  6. When the sweet potato is cooked, turn off the heat and drain them in a colander. Pop them back into the saucepan and add the knob of butter and some seasoning. Mash them up with a potato masher until pretty smooth. Put to one side.
  7. Return to your sauce and pour in your lentils. Stir them in and cook the sauce for a further 10 minutes.
  8. When the sauce has thickened up, transfer it to a large baking dish and use a large spoon to flatten it down into a neat bottom layer. Do the same with the sweet potato. Sprinkle the cheese on top and a little bit of thyme if you have any left, then place the dish in the oven for 25 minutes or so, or until the top has started to turn golden.
  9. Serve with greens of your choice and enjoy.

Vegetarian Penang curry with mushroom and tofu

Penang curry, named after an area on the northwest coast of Malaysia, is a rich, fragrant and creamy Thai curry. The main players in this recipe – nutty chestnut mushrooms and fried tofu – are the perfect ingredients to soak up all of the sensational spices in the penang sauce.


Penang curry is without a doubt my curry of the moment. I can’t express how much I love it. I can’t stop eating it. I don’t want to stop eating it. It’s so tasty.

The aromatic flavours of ginger, red chilli, coriander and lemongrass work well with creamy peanut butter and coconut milk. It’s milder than Thai green or red curries and more of a comforting choice with the creaminess from the nut butter.

There’s a street food stall on Lower Marsh Market in Waterloo, London, that serves the best tofu penang curry I’ve ever tried. I’m addicted to it. I try to limit myself to eating it once a week as the portions are huge (and I don’t like to waste food).

To feed my addiction and cut back on pricey lunchtime treats, I wanted to have a go at making it myself. A lot of the recipes I browsed online use ready made Thai red curry paste, but I prefer to make sauces from scratch where I can, to avoid extra unnecessary sugar and additives, so I decided to make my own paste.

I found About Food’s red curry paste recipe a great base for inspiration, making a few tweaks along the way. There are quite a lot of ingredients involved in making the paste, but it’s totally worth it. It only takes five minutes to put together. It’s so fresh and aromatic.

Serve this curry with your choice of rice (I always use brown rice), a sprinkle of fresh, chopped coriander and a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce on the side for a bit of extra kick.

Ingredients

  • 200g tofu (I used Cauldron)
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red onion (½ thinly sliced to add to the curry and hold ½ back for the paste)
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 400g can light coconut milk

For the curry paste

  • 3 tbsp light coconut milk (from the same can mentioned above)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ remaining red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh or ground coriander
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp frozen red chilli (or use fresh chilli)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice (I used bottled lime juice, but from the fruit is fine)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves 2

Method

  1. Drain the tofu. I find the best way to do this is to place it on a plate and carefully balance a heavy object(s) on top – I usually opt for a chopping board and big saucepan. Leave it for 15 minutes or longer if you can be bothered to wait, to get as much water out of the tofu as possible.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the paste. Put all of the paste ingredients into a measuring jug or high-edged piece of tupperware and whizz everything up with a hand blender until smoothish.
  3. At this point, if you’ve opted to cook brown rice, put it on to boil now as it takes 25-30 minutes to cook. If you’re using an alternative, follow the pack instructions.
  4. Next, put a large frying pan on a medium heat and pour in the oil.
  5. While the oil is heating up, remove the tofu from its makeshift clamp and chop it into small cubes. Add it to the pan and cook for 5-7 minutes, turning regularly till it’s golden. Remove from the pan with a fish slice or similar utensil, so the oil remains in the pan.
  6. Pop the onion and mushroom into the pan and cook for a further 5-7 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the tofu back to the pan.
  7. Transfer the curry paste into the pan and stir in with the veggies and tofu. Cook for a minute or so and then pour in the coconut milk. Bring to the boil, stirring frequently so the coconut milk and curry paste blend in together. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce has turned a rich light red colour.
  8. Season the curry well and serve with the rice, sweet chilli sauce and fresh coriander.

Adapted from the Picky Eater Blog’s recipe.

Pumpkin, pepper and pearl barley stew

This seasonal stew is the perfect meal as Halloween and Bonfire Night approach. Pumpkin, pepper and sweetcorn bring a satisfying sweetness to the dish while the spices contribute a rich depth of flavour.

It’s packed with an array of colourful veggies and nutritious pearl barley grains so it’s really good for you. It’ll be on the table in 40 minutes and will please your vegan friends.

This comforting stew is sure to delight your tastebuds and leave you feeling nicely full.

 

Ingredients

  • 275g pumpkin, chopped into small cubes
  • 60g frozen sweetcorn (or you could use tinned)
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 60g pearl barley, rinsed under cold water
  • 100g cabbage (I used sweetheart), finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red pepper, cubed
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 200g chopped tomatoes
  • Fresh coriander to serve (optional)

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 2

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, pepper and garlic and cook for five minutes.
  2. Add the spices and pumpkin and mix together well. Cook for a further five minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add the tomatoes, cabbage and stock and bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce the heat and pour in the pearl barley and sweetcorn. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the pearl barley has cooked through with a little bit of bite left.
  5. Season well and serve in large pasta bowls with a coriander garnish on top.

This recipe was inspired by Leon Fast Vegetarian’s squash, corn and bean stew.

Sweet potato and kale chilli

To celebrate World Vegetarian Day, try this aromatic vegetable chilli packed with a wonderful array of spices. Serve it with brown rice and a dollop of sour cream, and you’ve got the perfect warming dinner for these chilly autumnal evenings.

Sweet potato and kale chilli

There’s nothing better than a hearty veggie chilli. You can serve it with rice, tortilla chips, potato or polenta chips, with sour cream, guacamole, grated cheese; the options are endless.

I’m not a fan of the standard five bean chilli you’ll find in many pubs across the UK; I think that’s a bit of a cop out. What you need is a variety of tasty vegetables to bring vibrant colours and a wealth of textures, as well as adding nutritional goodness. This recipe ticks all of those boxes.

I had an abundance of sweet potatoes in the cupboard and some leftover kale that I wanted to incorporate into a one pot dish. And I bought some cannellini beans on a whim to make a change from the usual pulses I buy. I stumbled across Jamie Oliver’s vegetable chilli recipe, and adapted it to include kale and cannellini beans.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 80g kale
  • 1 pepper (I used an orange one as that’s what I had in the fridge)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp frozen red chilli (or you could use chilli flakes)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (plus a bit extra to season the sweet potatoes)
  • 400g can cannellini beans, drained
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (plus a bit extra for the sweet potatoes)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin (plus extra for the sweet potatoes)
  • 1 tsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • Plenty of seasoning

Preparation time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves 2-3

Method

  1. Heat the oven to gas mark 6.
  2. Pour 1 tbsp of olive oil into a medium-sized roasting dish and swirl it around so it’s evenly dispersed. Pop it in the oven to heat up.
  3. Peel the sweet potatoes and chop into small cubes.
  4. Take the roasting dish out of the oven and tip the sweet potato cubes in. Sprinkle over a bit of cinnamon, cayenne pepper and cumin and use a wooden spoon to coat all of the potatoes in the oil and spices. Season well and put back in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, put a large frying pan on a medium heat and pour in the remaining olive oil.
  6. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.
  7. Chop the pepper into relatively small bitesize chunks and add to the pan. Cook for a further 3-5 minutes.
  8. Add the chilli, spices and fresh coriander and stir in with the onion mixture.
  9. Pour in the cannellini beans and chopped tomatoes and mix everything in together.
  10. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  11. Check on the sweet potatoes after 15 minutes, and give turn them over using a metal spoon so they cook evenly on all sides. Return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes, or until they have softened.
  12. When the chilli has been cooking for 15 minutes, stir the kale into the pan.
  13. Whent the sweet potatoes are ready, take them out of the oven and add them to the chilli. Season well and serve with brown rice or a side dish of your choice.