Shepherd's Pie with a Cheesy Leek & Potato Topping

Tuck into a portion of Nick Knowle's hearty vegetarian Shepherd's Pie complete with a comforting, cheesy topping. This recipe is the perfect way to lighten up one of everyone's favourite comfort food dinners.

Introduction

So we are back under the duvet after sticking this in the oven and filling the house with the smell of comfort food, safe in the knowledge that there’s a full belly to come.

Serves 6
Prep time: 35 min
Cook time: 2 h
Total time: 2 h 35 min

Ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp thyme, leaves picked
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 large parsnips, peeled and finely chopped
2 raw beetroots, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp tomato purée
500ml vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
250g cooked Puy lentils
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the topping:
900g Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and quartered
25g salted butter
2 large leeks, trimmed and sliced
50ml whole milk
60g strong Cheddar cheese, grated
40g dried breadcrumbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish over a medium heat. Add the onion to the pan with a pinch of salt and cook gently until just soft. Add the garlic, 1 tablespoon of the thyme and the rosemary and cook for a further minute. Stir through the carrots, parsnips and beetroot, adding 2 tablespoons of water to the pan. Cover and cook for 8–10 minutes, until the vegetables
are beginning to soften. Stir regularly, to make sure nothing is catching on the bottom of the pan.

Stir through the flour and tomato purée. Add a dash of the stock and bring to the boil. Pour in the remaining stock along with the bay and lentils. Cover and cook for 35–40 minutes on a low heat until the vegetables are soft. Once soft, stir through theWorcestershire sauce and season with salt and a generous amount of pepper.

While the base is cooking, make the topping. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and allow to steam dry for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a frying pan over a medium heat melt the butter, add the leeks and fry gently for 14–16 minutes until soft and collapsed. Mash the potatoes until smooth, stirring through the
milk, half of the cheese and the leeks. Season to taste.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Transfer the filling to a 2-litre ovenproof dish and spoon over the mash, breadcrumbs and remaining cheese and thyme. Bake for 25 minutes. Serve with steamed greens.

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