This could be an anytime dish but I put it in Autumn because it is such a lovely dish to come home to as the nights begin to shorten. We pick our first leeks in Autumn, and the fresh herbs should still be available—but you can also use dried.
This is a long recipe but it is actually very simple and once you have made it a few times you should be able to do it from memory. You can also simplify it by leaving out the leeks in the mash (but they are nice).
Makes 4-6 portions | Prep time: 35 mins (+ overnight soaking)| Cooking time: 1 hr +
1 cup/300g Puy Lentils (you can also use pre-cooked)
1 bay leaf
Pinch of dried seaweed such as Dulse (not essential)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and grated
5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped into small dice
6 dried Shitake mushrooms, soaked overnight in 1 cup of water
50ml white wine
100ml vegetable stock (I use a Kallo stock cube)
1 ½ tbsp tomato or fruit chutney
Pinch sea salt and pepper
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped (or 2 tsp dried mixed herbs)
4 large red potatoes
2 leeks, diced
½ cup plant based milk
3 tbsp butter/ghee or vegan margerine
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
½ tsp sea salt and good pinch of pepper
For best results wash the lentils and soak overnight. Wash again then place in a large pan with enough water to cover generously (roughly 3 cups). Add the bay leaf (for flavour) and a pinch of seaweed if you have it (it helps soften the pulses and makes them easier to digest). Bring to the boil and simmer for 25-30 minutes, adding additional water if necessary.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Place a large non-stick saucepan over a medium heat and add a little oil. When the pan is hot add the onion, garlic and celery. Sauté the mixture for 4 minutes, stirring often.
Stir in the grated carrot and sauté for another minute. Finely chop the re-hydrated mushrooms then add them to the pan with the herbs and lentils. Keep stirring the mixture for 2-3 more minutes before adding the mushrooms and white wine and allowing to bubble.
Then add the stock and chutney, mix well, taste, and add additional salt and pepper as required. Stir well, then turn the heat down very low and let the mixture bubble away for 15 minutes, stirring every now and then and adding more water if needed.
Meanwhile, make the mashed potato for the topping. Add the potatoes to a medium saucepan and cover over with water (I don’t salt at this stage but its up to you). Place the pan over medium heat, bring to a simmer and cook the potatoes for around 10-12 minutes or until they are soft enough to mash.
While the potatoes are cooking, melt the oil or ghee and fry the leeks until they soften and are beginning to brown.
When the potatoes are cooked transfer them to a colander, draining away the water. Let the potatoes dry for 2-3 minutes, and while they are drying warm the milk and butter. Mash the potatoes with the milk, butter, olive oil and mustard and mix well. Stir in the parsley and seasoning and taste.
When the filling mix is rich, and the liquid has slightly thickened, transfer it to a baking dish or individual dishes and top with the creamy mash. Place the pie into the oven to bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the mash on top has gone crispy and golden.
Serve right away (also freezes well).
P – This is good Pitta fodder!
V – Could be a little heavy—perhaps make with mung beans which are easier to digest
K – Enjoy in small portions only
Puy lentils are the ‘queen of pulses’. They are grown in Le Puy-en-Velay in the South of France. The area is formed from ancient volcanic lava domes, which make the land incredibly fertile with a uniquely dry and warm microclimate. Unlike their relatives the brown and green lentils, they stay whole when cooked and have a delicate flavour. This is one of the reasons that there is no tomato in the this recipe (the other is that tomatoes can be inflammatory).
Puy lentils are are extremely nutritious, after soya and hemp they have the highest protein amounts of any beans and they provide up to 30% of their calories this way. Brown lentils and their green cousins Puy lentils contain a higher concentration of dietary fibre than their red cousins at 31% rather than 11% and it is mostly soluble fibre which is kinder on the digestion and helps reduce uptake of the LDL cholesterol. Other vital nutrients in Puy lentils include significant amounts of magnesium and potassium and folate, calcium, iron and phosphorous.
While it is not absolutely necessary to soak Puy lentils before cooking the nutrients are more accessible to the body if you soak overnight and then change the water before cooking. Using seaweed in the cooking water as suggested, also helps.