For the lentil base-
Oil, for frying
2x onions, chopped or grated
2x carrots, diced
4x garlic cloves , finely chopped
200g mushrooms, sliced
2x bay leaves
1x tsp dried thyme
1x tsp dried oregano
1x tsp dried sage
300g dried green lentils
200ml red wine (optional*)
500ml vegetable stock
3x tbsp tomato purée
*If you choose to leave out the wine from the dish you can top up the sauce with more stock or 200ml of water.
For the mashed potato-
700g of potatoes, peeled
25g of Soya spread
2x tbsp Soya Milk
Nutritional Yeast, Salt and Pepper to Taste
I would generally recommend not soaking the lentils prior to cooking as they will soak in the wine and the stock during cooking, taking on their flavour and moisture from that mixture.
Method - To make the sauce, heat the oil in a pan to a medium heat, then gently fry the onions, carrots, and garlic for 10-15 mins until soft and golden.
Next, turn up the heat, add the mushrooms and cook for around 5 mins. Stirring in the herbs whilst cooking.
Put the lentils into the pan, pour over the wine and stock and reduce the temperature to a medium setting - it's important that you do not season with salt at this stage as this can prevent the lentils from cooking properly. Simmer the mixture for 40-50 mins until the lentils are soft and the majority of the liquid has evaporated. It is important to stir frequently and keep the lentils moist, if they become too dry they can stick to the base of the pan and burn. Simply add more boiling water, wine or stock to the lentils to rectify this.
Whilst the lentils are cooking place the potatoes into a pan of boiling water for around 15mins, until tender.
Now is a good time to preheat the oven to 180°c.
The mixture should ideally look to be of a similar consistency to the above photograph, note that the wine and stock have been soaked up by the lentils.
Once the lentils are cooked, season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper, take off the heat and then stir in the tomato purée. Next, place into an ovenproof dish.
Once the potatoes are cooked Mash, add the butter, milk and nutritional yeast. Whisk to a smooth purée, season with salt and freshly milled black pepper and spread over the rest of the ingredients in the dish using a fork. Note: This was the first time I'd used nutritional yeast so it was very much an experiment. I used around 3 heaped tablespoons for the recipe and found that the yeast gives the mash a nutty flavour, although it did leave the mash a little hard when reheated the following day (a problem solved by adding a little gravy).
Place the dish into the oven and cook for around 20-25 mins or until the mashed potato topping starts to go a golden brown colour.
As a little extra to this we had some roasted chestnuts, what with Christmas on the way and all. Nice and easy to make -
Score a cross into the skin of each nut deep enough to break the skin (makes for easier peeling later on) and place on a baking tray. Preheat the oven to 180°c and cook the chestnuts for around 20-30 mins. That's all there is to it, peel away the skins and enjoy a nice pre-Christmas treat!