Warm, hearty, and comforting, this vegetarian (with vegan and gluten free options) cottage pie is a delicious way to celebrate the holiday season.
We’ve been out exploring. These crisp, dry, beautiful and super cold days won’t last long so I take advantage of getting outside and soaking up the last bit of sunshine before the dark winter days set in. But it has been so very cold; down in the low 20s for at least a week now. Unusual for us, this early into fall.
With the holidays approaching, I thought I would offer a savory recipe that is comforting, hearty and one that will feed a crowd.
Cottage pie, synonymous with shepherd’s pie, has a many variations but in traditional form it’s a meat pie with a mashed potato crust. In this cottage pie, French lentils and mushrooms replace the traditional meat ingredients however, the sought after umami is still apparent.
This recipe calls for a mix of mushrooms. I always include dried, easy to rehydrate, porcini (por-che-knee). They have a hearty texture with an earthy flavor that pairs well with French lentils. The best part about the rehydration process is the divine broth that is created from soaking the porcini; I use this broth, in part, to create the gravy.
Cottage pie served along side Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pear and Thyme, crusty bread and a nice bottle of red creates a hearty and comfort worthy meal that celebrates the season, lovingly made in your kitchen and shared with friends and family.
A delicious ending to this unforgettable meal, is my quick and easy to pull together, bourbon apple cranberry cobbler with anise and vanilla bean.
Rustic, vegetarian with vegan and gluten-free options, hearty, comforting and in season. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family has.
For the Topping:
- 2 1/2 lb Russet or Yellow Finn Potatoes washed and sliced to 1/4" thick pieces (skins on)
- 3 Cloves Large of Garlic skinned and smashed
- 2 tsp Sea Salt divided
- 3/4 C Milk + 1 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar both at room temperature (sub almond milk for vegan option)
- 3 Tbs Unsalted Butter Earth Balance for vegan option
- 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
For the Filling:
- 1 C French Lentils
- 4 1/2 C Water divided
- 1 Bayleaf
- 1 tsp Sea Salt divided
- 2 oz Dried Porcini Mushrooms See Note **
- 8 oz Mixed Wild Mushrooms de-stemmed and sliced (cremini, button, chanterelle, oyster etc)
- 3 Tbs All Purpose Flour or 2 Tbs organic cornstarch for gluten free option
- 1 Tbs Coconut Oil melted
- 1 1/2 C Yellow Onion chopped
- 1 C Parsnip small dice (about 1 large)
- 1/2 C Celery small dice (about 2 pieces)
- 1/2 C Carrot small dice (about 1 carrot)
- 2 Tbs Dry Sherry
- 1 Tbs Tamari
- 1 Tbs Tomato Paste
- 1 Tbs Fresh Thyme Leaves
- 1/2 tsp Ground Pepper
- Chopped Chives
- Leaves Fresh Thyme
- 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
For the Topping:
Place 1 tsp of salt, garlic cloves and potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with water, bring to a boil and simmer until potatoes are fork tender; about 20-25 minutes. Drain and allow to set uncovered to steam off excess water for about 10 minutes.
Add the apple cider vinegar to the milk and whisk. Let stand for 5 minutes. (this is a shortcut to buttermilk).
To the pot of potatoes and garlic, stir in remaining 1 tsp of salt, nutmeg, pepper, butter and milk mixture. Mash until potatoes are smooth and creamy. Adjust seasoning as needed. Set aside.
For the Filling:
In a 2qt sauce pan, add lentils, 2 C water, bayleaf and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Bring lentils to a simmer and cook on medium heat, uncovered for about 30 minutes. Set aside.
While the lentils are cooking, boil the remaining 2 1/2 C water in a tea kettle. Place dried porcini in a bowl and pour the 2 1/2 C of very hot water over the porcini. Cover and rehydrate for about 30 minutes. Through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth, drain the porcini pushing/squeezing the porcini and excess broth through the strainer, reserving the broth into a large 2-4 C measuring cup. Set the broth aside, remove the cheese cloth, and put the porcini in the strainer. Rinse the porcini under cold running water over the sink. Squeeze out excess water through the strainer and into the sink.
Rough chop the porcini mushrooms. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375F.
If the mushroom broth does not reach the 2 1/2 C mark, add enough water to yield 2 1/2 C broth total. Pour 1/2 a cup of the broth into a separate container and add the flour (or cornstarch). Whisk throughly. Set aside.
In a large saute' pan, add the coconut oil. Heat to shimmering. Turn heat to medium and add the onion, parsnip, celery, carrot, all mushrooms, and remaining 1/2 tsp sea salt. Saute' for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. The veggies should be tender.
To the saute' pan with the veggies, add the sherry, tamari, tomato paste, fresh thyme, ground pepper, 2 C of mushroom broth and lentils. Heat through on medium heat just to a simmer. Add the flour/broth (or cornstarch) mixture and simmer, whisking gently, until mixture thickens, for about 2-3 minutes.
Taste the lentil mixture for seasoning. Adjust to taste.
Spoon the lentil mixture into a 2 quart casserole or dutch oven and gently spread the potatoes over the top (gently here because you don't want the potatoes to fall into the lentil mixture!).
Bake at 375F on a parchment lined sheet pan for 30 minutes or until the mashed potatoes have a nice golden hue. Let rest for 10 minutes and serve.
Find dried porcini mushrooms at Whole Foods, Co-Op or health food stores.