despite the fact that i only cook for one and would be more than happy to eat beans and rice with veggies for the rest of my life, i’ve decided to make it a goal to try a new recipe every weekend. baking and i are pretty tight friends but i figured i should really catch up on my cooking.
first try: mushroom and lentil shepherd’s pie.
there’s nothing better than a piece o hot shepherd’s pie on a cold cloudy day like today. (well maybe some spiked hot chocolate, a soft puppy, and a snuggie). while i wish shepherd’s pie brought me back to ireland or sweet ol’ granny’s cooking, it really brings me back to my university’s dorm cafeteria — but don’t get grossed out just yet! the food in my state university dorm was actually quite good, i never complained. especially when it was vegetarian shepherd’s pie day, that was the best.
i’m not really even sure what was in it, other than it was vegetarian, tasted delicious, and was always so comforting. so when i stumbled across this recipe i thought i had to give it a try and make it on my own. i changed the original recipe a bit adding carrots, peas, a lil paprika, and a dash of cinnamon, because all good shepherd’s put that in their pie.
since i’ve been into cooking with dried beans/legumes i did a little reseach on cooking methods and found interesting ways to cut down on flatulence. hehe flatulence. even though i live on my own with no one else to suffer the consequences, i figured i’d try it. i knew one must soak beans ahead of time but always thought you didn’t need to soak lentils. but actually, soaking lentils for an hour or more will help cut down on future flatulence. you can also cook them (and all other legumes) with spices such as fennel seeds, ginger, cumin seeds, dill, bay leaf, oregano, cilantro or rosemary. livestrong’s website claims that ‘these help to take some of the gas out of lentils by converting the oligosaccharides into a more digestible form’. how tooterific!
despite that i used every last lingering lentil i had in my stock sent from america, spent what felt like all day cooking, and giggled at the word ‘flatulence’ multiple times in this post, the results were certainly worth it.
lentil and mushroom shepherd’s pie
- 3 1/2 cups cooked lentils (with a little liquid left after cooking)
- 3 medium carrots, chopped and steamed
- 8 large or 10 medium potatoes
- 2 tablespoons margarine
- 1/2 cup milk
- salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 15o grams (6 ounces) mushrooms
- 1 small can of peas, rinsed and drained
- 100 grams frozen spinach (thawed and strained as much as possible)
- 3 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- dash of cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons seasoning blend (such as Spike or Mrs. Dash)
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- sprinkle of dried parsley
- peel, chop and steam carrots. set aside until needed.
- begin cooking the lentils in a sauce pan of water. (1 1/2 cups dried lentils with 3 cups water = 3 cups cooked lentils). cook at a low temperature for 20 minutes or so until lentils are tender (you want to have extra liquid leftover).
- peel and dice the potatoes. place in a large saucepan with enough water to cover. bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. drain and transfer to a small mixing bowl.
- stir the margarine into the potatoes until melted, then add the milk and mash until fluffy. cover and set aside until needed. preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- while the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a medium skillet. add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. add the garlic and mushrooms and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
- add the lentils and their liquid to the mushrooms and onions, bring to a gentle simmer. stir in the carrots, peas, spinach, soy sauce, seasoning blend, paprika, cinnamon, and pepper. cook gently for 5 minutes.
- remove from the heat; taste to adjust seasonings to your liking.
- lightly oil a 2-quart (preferably round) casserole dish or a springform cheesecake pan. pour in the lentil mixture, then spread the potatoes evenly over the top. sprinkle with pepper and dried parsley.
- bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to turn golden and slightly crusty. let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, then cut into wedges to serve.