Vegetable Cottage Pie With Green Lentils and Sweet Potato Mash
This is a tasty vegan main course that is both warming and satisfying. A twist on the traditional cottage pie, its sweet potato topping is sure to appeal to all the family.
For the filling:
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2-3 carrots
- Assorted vegetables, e.g., sweet peppers, green beans, peas, zucchini, cabbage, mushrooms etc
- 1 (240g / 8oz) can cooked green lentils
- 240g (8oz) tomato passata
- cooking oil, as needed
- Pinch salt and pepper
- 1/4 pint vegetable stock, (1 cube dissolved in hot water)
- Handful fresh chopped parsley
For the mash:
- 2 sweet potatoes, large
- 2 teaspoons butter or margerine
- Salt and black pepper
Step 1: Make the Filling
Note: I have been deliberately vague about which vegetables to include, as this is a very flexible recipe, and I often just add whatever I want to use up or those vegetables that are in season. In the example here I have added some cabbage leaves and fresh peas that I just happened to have ready in the garden, as well as some mushrooms and yellow peppers.
- Chop the onions and garlic finely. Heat some oil in a large pan and start to cook the onions over a gentle heat.
- Chop the carrots (and any other vegetable you are using that takes a longer time to cook, for instance green beans or other root vegetables), and add these to the pan. Cook gently and keep stirring every so often to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking.
- Softer vegetables with a shorter cooking time can be added once the carrots have started to soften. Chop all vegetables quite small, and to be roughly the same size pieces throughout, as this gives a better overall texture.
- Once the fresh vegetables are cooked through, add the tomato passata and vegetable stock, along with salt and pepper to taste and a handful of chopped fresh parsley. Bring back to a simmer.
- Add the cooked and drained green lentils. If using canned lentils (which I find most convenient for this dish) drain off the water through a sieve, and then rinse in cold water before adding. Simmer slowly for about 10-15 minutes to allow the flavours to mingle.
Step 2: Make the Sweet Potato Mash
Once the filling is simmering away, you can get on with making the mash.
- Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into small cubes (about 1-2 inch cubes works well).
- Cook in boiling water for around 10 to 15 minutes, until soft. I usually test with a sharp knife or a fork—if it slips in easily, they're done.
- Drain off thoroughly, return to the pan and mash with a potato masher, add the butter (or vegan alternative), and salt and black pepper to taste.
Step 3: Assemble and Bake
- Prepare a large, deep ovenproof dish, greasing around the top half with butter or margarine to prevent the mash from sticking.
- Pour the filling into the dish first, then carefully spoon the mash over the top, a bit at a time, covering as much as the surface as possible. Try not to add too much in one place as the weight may make it sink down into the sauce, making it difficult to spread over evenly.
- Use a fork to spread the mash out to the sides of the dish, making sure it is completely covered right up to the edges, and filling in any gaps. Score the top of the mash with the fork to create 'furrows', which will give you a crispier surface.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C, for about 45 minutes, or until the top has started to brown off.
- Your cottage pie is now ready to serve!
© 2020 Imogen French