Cottage/ Shepherds Pie was a classic British working mans dish back in the early seventeen hundreds when Irish potatoes were first accepted as a mainstream ingredient in England. The name “Cottage Pie” came about because people lived in small clusters of cottages and didn’t have much money; they invented this dish which used up leftover cuts of meat in a sauce bulked up with vegetables and topped with potato, which once mashed will go a long way.
These days the traditional principles of the dish still stand, it is a great way to use up leftover vegetables, it is cheap to make and it will last you a long time (or if you are a big family it will feed everyone from one dish!). I have previously made a lentil and chickpea cottage pie which was really delicious but for this version I wanted it to fit closer to the original recipe (but vegan obviously).
Mushrooms are a great ingredient when you want something to be a bit “meaty” and rich, by adding dried mushrooms to the stock and then adding fresh mushrooms you get a real depth to the filling. I also added carrots, onions, leeks and celery which stick quite closely to the original recipe but this dish is extremely versatile and you can add all sorts including parsnips, spinach, peas and sweetcorn.
For my topping I decided to add some parsnip in with the mash to make it a bit more interesting and because the sweetness of parsnips goes perfectly with the savoury filling. You can mix this up depending on what you have to hand, in the past I have used sweet potatoes, swede, turnips and even cauliflower mixed in with potatoes.
As you can see this is a dish which can be perfectly adapted for fussy tastebuds, veg averse kids and budgets of all kinds, no wonder it is such a British Classic!
To Serve 6
Gluten Free, Vegan, Low Fat, Budget Friendly!
14 Dried Mushrooms (I used portobello)
1 gluten free Vegetable Stock Cube
2 Large Carrots
2 Celery Sticks
1 Red Onion
1 Garlic Clove
Drizzle Olive Oil
250g Chestnut Mushrooms
Salt and Pepper
2 tblspns Rice Flour
2-3 tblspn Tomato Purée
1 Can Cooked Green or Puy Lentils
Small knob Vegan Butter
1 tblspn Vegan Milk (I used almond milk)
Put the dried mushrooms and stock cube into a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Put to one side.
Finely chop the carrots, celery, onion and leek and crush the garlic. In a large deep frying pan heat a little olive oil and gently cook the chopped vegetables and garlic until softened and lightly browned. Approx 15 minutes.
Roughly chop the mushrooms and add to the pan with plenty of seasoning and cook for a further 5-6 minutes whilst stirring to combine everything and cook it evenly.
Add the flour and tomato purée next and again give it a good stir to fully coat the vegetables with the sticky flour. This will thicken the sauce but also give everything a great texture.
Add the canned lentils and soaked mushrooms (chopped) to the pan and strain in the mushroom stock.
Cover with a lid or tinfoil and cook on a low heat for 15 – 20 minutes giving it the occasional stir to stop it sticking to the pan.
While this is simmering away boil some potatoes and parsnips and once super soft, drain them, add the butter and milk and mash them! Add some seasoning!
Tip the filling into a baking dish and top with mashed potatoes. Put in an oven at 200c for 15 minutes until golden brown on top and the filling is bubbling away.
This is perfect served with peas, cabbage, spring greens, spinach or broccoli (or a combination of all, yum!)