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.
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