Happy Winter Solstice, she is here, and I hope she will be kind to us, although by the looks of it a storm is heading this way soon so I have something for you today that may help. But first, you may remember at the beginning of this year we made a decision, not a resolution, we're not really into those, it was more of a choice really, we decided to eat less meat. We have all really enjoyed it, we've even had full-on vegetarian weeks that we have loved. And we are determined to continue to eat less meat, but there was one thing we were all agreed on, we love our cosy cottage pie nights. So it was a bit of a challenge for me to come up with a meat-free cottage pie that would hit the mark, especially for our girl, she has been a die-hard cottage pie fan since she has been able to chew! So I played around with various recipes, some were close, some were way off the mark, and then I saw a Nigel Slater recipe for this gravy and it clicked, I added some ingredients from that gravy into my meat-free cottage pie and bingo! Now we can't even remember what the original meaty pie tasted like, I'm serious, I sort of can't believe that this has become a very firm favourite and a permanent replacement, even with our girl!
This is a rich, warming and comforting cottage pie, with creamy, fluffy mashed potatoes. When I say no-one missed the meat in this I mean it, it's dark, the rich colour maybe helps, but the little extras added really bring this pie up a notch. Please don't be put off by the long list of ingredients here, they are all easy to find though and you probably have everything in your kitchen cupboards anyway. It is jam-packed with veggies, carrots, parsnips and lentils, and if you have kids that aren't that into lentils, well they won't even know they are there, trust me! I know this may be a tad longer than most of my usual recipes but this really is worth the wait, I guess you could say that this is the original slow cooking, meant for dark and cold wintery Sundays when you feel like you need some comfort from Winter. You can make this a day ahead if you like and if you leave out the Worcestershire sauce it becomes a great vegetarian dish for your veggie dinner guests. You can freeze this too, just wait for it to cool then freeze, don't add the grated cheese until you have defrosted it is ready to pop it in the oven.
So, school is out, whoop, the holidays have started, nearly all the presents have been wrapped and we are getting ready to spend our first Christmas on our own in a few years. We are all really looking forward to it and I'm going to take a week or so before I write any more posts, so all that is left is to say thank you so much for your support over the last year, thanks for all your lovely comments and thank you to everyone who made one of my recipes and shared it with your friends, or on your social media, wow, that gets me every time x So from my family to yours we wish you a very, very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year, bring on 2017, we are ready x
Need More Cosy Comfort Food?
Did you make this Meat Free Cottage Pie recipe? Rate it and leave a comment below to let me know what you think!
Meat Free Cottage Pie
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large large onion 140g, chopped
- 2 medium sticks of celery chopped
- 3 large carrots 240g, peeled and chopped
- 2 medium parsnips 200g, peeled and chopped
- 150 g chestnut (brown) mushrooms wiped clean and cut into quarters or eighths if large
- 250 g Puy lentils pre-cooked, I used a store bought pack.
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
- 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree (tomato paste)
- 750 ml vegetable stock
- 75 ml red wine (optional, but recommended)
- 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- 1 heaped tbsp red currant jelly
- 2 small fresh bay leaf
- 5 or 6 sprigs of thyme
- 4¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 100 g frozen peas
- 850 g floury potatoes I used Maris Piper
- 40 g butter , Irish butter of course 😉
- A good splash of milk
- Black pepper and sea salt to season
- 80 g good cheddar cheese grated.
- Heat the oil in a heavy based large pan, add the onion and cook for gently until they are soft, then add the celery, cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the carrots, parsnips, mushrooms and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Now stir in the flour and tomato puree, mix well and cook for a minute or two.
- Pour in the stock, and the wine and cook for about 5 minutes, then add the Puy lentils, soy sauce, the Worcestershire sauce and drop in the red currant jelly, mix well.
- Add the bay leaves, thyme and black pepper then simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick to the bottom.
- While the veg is simmering boil the potatoes, when done they are done mash them well, try to get them nice and smooth. Add the butter, milk salt and pepper then using a wooden spoon, quickly stir the potatoes until you have a light and fluffy mash.
- Once the veg mix has reduced to a thickish consistency remove the thyme stalks and the bay leaves, stir in the frozen peas then add it all to a large casserole dish. Top with the mash, using a fork to spread it evenly over the veg mixture.
- Top the mash with the cheese and cook in a pre heated oven, 180 degrees C, for about 20 minutes or until the mash and cheese is golden and the pie is bubbling.
- Remove from the oven and let it stand for for a few minutes before serving.
- Serve with greens or on it's own.