It’s St. Patrick’s day! And while I’m not the least bit Irish, I do like to celebrate with an Irish coffee and Shepherd’s Pie. In this recipe, I swap out the ground beef for lentils (a little trick you can do in so many recipes). The secret here is the cinnamon. I know! It sounds crazy, but trust me, it really makes the dish
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 6-ish mushrooms, sliced - I used baby bella but any variety will do
- 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
- 1 cup lentils
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- pinch of thyme, fresh or dried
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 to 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 Tablespoon flour
- 2 russet potatoes
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- Heat a pan with olive oil, then add the carrots and onions, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and garlic, and cook for another few minutes, stirring often so the garlic doesn't burn.
- Add the tomato paste, spices, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. I used dried thyme, because it's what I had on hand, but fresh or dried rosemary, sage and/or oregano would also be really good.
- Then add the red wine and 2 cups of vegetable stock.
- Add lentils and bring to a simmer, let them cook until tender, between 30 and 45 minutes. Watch the liquid level. The lentils will soak up most of it (which is good, we're not making soup here) but you don't want it to get so low that there isn't enough for the lentils to cook in. I ended up adding another cup of vegetable stock about 2/3's of the way through.
- While the lentils are cooking, peel and dice the potatoes. Put them in a large pot with cold water, then bring to a boil on the stove. Check them every so often with a fork, when the fork pierces the potato easily, they're done. Drain them, then put them back in the pot on the stove to cook off any excess liquid. Then mash them up and add the butter, along with salt and pepper. If I have milk on hand, I add a little of that and cut back on the butter.
- At some point, you're going to need to add the corn and peas. I used the frozen variety and added them towards the very end. Once they were thawed and heated through, I called it done. You might need to add a bit more time for the fresh stuff.
- When the lentils are done, it's time to thicken the liquid. You can make a roux* if you want, or if you're lazy like me, just add the flour directly to the pan.
- Pick out the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves, then pour the lentil and veggie mixture into a baking dish. Layer the potatoes on top, then sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top of that. Place the dish under the broiler for melty cheese and get a nice golden brown color, but watch carefully, it can quickly burn.
- And as always, enjoy.
*A roux is made from equal parts butter and flour. Melt the butter in a pan on the stove, then mix in the flour and cook for a few minutes. This gets rid of the raw flour taste you sometimes get from adding the flour directly. **It's easy to make this vegan, just substitute the butter with margarine and skip the cheese!