In an effort to eat less meat and more vegetarian meals and of course to be a supporter of Meatless Mondays, I have been looking at how I can make lentils and chickpeas taste good. Let’s be honest, they can be rather bland, yes? BUT!! They are great protein additions and there is hope for the little protein balls after all! Take this Lentil Cottage Pie I made this weekend for example, it was cheesy and tomatoey (I’m all into making up my own words) and wholesome and filling and an all round great recipe for making lentils taste way better than they look. They actually tasted delicious which, I must confess, surprised me and delighted me – The BLAH turned to YAH!!!!
Some recipe notes!
- You will see at the bottom of the ingredient list, it says 1/2 cup vegetable stock or red wine!! Either will work beautifully but wine always seems to go well with tomato bases.
- I have used tinned lentils as they are just simpler and more convenient to use. Use fresh herbs instead of dried herbs if they are available and omit the sugar if you feel the sauce is sweet enough. Sometimes the tinned tomatoes can be incredibly sweet but they can also be on the tart side, so use your discretion here to add more or less.
- I grated the carrots finely – that is just a personal preference although I do think it makes the sauce and end result more pleasant visually as well as to eat.
- If you don’t have spring onion, use one large celery stalk sliced finely.
- Lastly, do not be put off by the long list of ingredients – you’re making mashed potato too! Just reminding you.
A healthy vegetarian cottage pie made with lentils and a rich tomato base, topped with grated cheese and mash potato and more cheese, and then grilled to perfection. Quick and easy to make and perfect for a Meatless Monday meal.
- 6 TBS butter – 3 tbs for the filling and 3 tbs for the mash potatoes
- 1 onion finely sliced
- 2 medium carrots, finely grated
- 3 spring onions, finely chopped
- 5 small garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 x 50g sachet tomato paste
- 1/2 cup tomato puree
- 1 can Italian tomatoes (diced)
- 1 tsp dried sweet basil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp sugar
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup lentils (I used tinned lentils that were rinsed and drained)
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock or red wine
- 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
- 5 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
- 3 tbs milk
- Heat the butter in a medium-sized pan and sautée the onions until soft and translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook for a minute – be careful not to burn the garlic
- Add the carrots and spring onions and cook until softened – roughly 10 minutes
- Stir in the herbs and tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes
- Add in the puree, canned tomatoes, sugar, lentils and stock (or wine!) and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes until the liquid has reduced into a beautiful tomato sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste and then set aside.
- In the meantime, prepare the mashed potato – boil the peeled potatoes until soft, drain the water, mash the potatoes and add 3 TBS butter and 3 TBS milk and mix well.
- Pour the lentil filling into a medium-sized baking dish and sprinkle with 1 cup of grated cheese.
- Now add the mashed potato and smooth it over to cover the lentil filling
- Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
- Grill until the cheese has melted and browned slightly, 5-10 minutes.