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Lazy Vegetarian meal ideas #33: Vegetarian shepherd’s pie

Shepherd’s pie is a fantastically hearty and tasty dish, and it is very easy to make vegetarian. Even though it is 100% vegetarian (and almost vegan), it does have a slightly meaty feel about it because of the mushrooms.

This particular shepherds pie recipe is something I’ll be making a lot more in the future. Although it does take a while to cook it is such an easy dish, and it only requires cheap and minimal ingredients.

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What you need: One large white onion, a few cloves of finely chopped garlic, half a box of small/medium chestnut mushrooms, a handful of pumpkin seeds, a tin of brown lentils, a 3/4 cup of vegetable stock (I just use the 0.30 pence stock cubes from Tesco), enough white potatoes for the mash (I used about 6 small potatoes), a few scoops of warmed butter, a quarter of a pint of warmed milk, olive oil.

Spices: Thyme, Rosemary (I used dried, but fresh would probably be nicer), paprika, chilli flakes, salt, pepper.

Note: I hate cooked carrots. Seriously, I hate them. I like raw carrots and very thin stir fried carrots can be okay, but there is literally nothing worse than biting into something and getting a mouthful of disgustingly sweet cooked carrot. It always feels like it should be a potato, but it’s just not.
So, as you may have noticed, my recipe has no cooked carrots in it even though it is normally in shepherds pie.I don’t think this recipe is missing anything and I would urge you to try it, but of course feel free to add carrots, celery and anything else you can think of.

You may also be wondering about the pumpkin seeds. You are welcome to leave them out, but they give the pie a really nice crunchy taste and the taste works pretty well. You’d be surprised how many dishes can be enhanced with seeds and nuts.

1: Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Whilst the oil is heating, chop the onion and garlic, add to the saucepan and cook on a medium heat for about 7 mnutes.

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2: Add the mushrooms, pumpkin seeds and a few sprinkles of rosemary, thyme and paprika. Cook on a medium heat for a few more minutes (stir frequently), and then add the lentils.

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3: Stir in some salt, pepper and chilli flakes, and cook for a further few minutes. Then add the 3/4 cup of vegetable stock, bring to a low heat and let simmer for 20 minutes or so.

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4: Whilst the filling is cooking, peel and boil the potatoes for about 30 minutes/until you can get a fork straight through them. Always test at least half your potatoes just in case they haven’t cooked evenly.
Tip: When boiling potatoes, first chop them into thin slices so they are all about the same length. Then put them in a large pot and fill the pot with cold water, and then bring to boil. I’ve read that cold water is much better for cooking potatoes because it makes sure they are all cooked evenly, and it cut my cooking time by about 7 minutes.

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5: When the potatoes are nearly done, heat the butter and milk separately on a low/medium heat. Once the potatoes have finished cooking and been drained, simply pour the butter and milk over them, season with salt and pepper and mash. Remember not to over mash them so they go all gloopy.

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6: Transfer the filling into a baking tray and cover with the mash. Bake with a medium temperature (about 180* on electric, I’m afraid I have no idea about gas) for about 20 minutes/ until the mash has started to brown.

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7: Serve with peas and gravy (optional but highly recommended) and enjoy!

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