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Lentil shepherd’s pie (quarantine pantry dinner)

In lockdown and looking for quarantine dinner ideas? During quarantine cooking and quarantine meal prep we have to be resourceful with pantry staples and freezer staples, and to keep recipes simple with regular ingredients you already have. Many need large family-sized meal prep that is kid-friendly yet healthy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a nutritious and delicious family dinner and meatless comfort food and full of veggies and protein! This dish is meatless, but has a meaty flavor due to a little beef bouillon, but it can be made vegan with veggie broth too, both ways taste good!

Although I’m not about to become a full on vegan as I need my iron, I do like balance and whole foods. And lots of veggies. And I made this lentil shepherd’s pie for a client’s family before and not only the adults, but all their small kids said this shepherd’s pie was yummy so its a kid-approved meal!

This allergen-free quarantine dinner is naturally gluten-free. Its dairy free or lactose free depending on what “butter” you choose.

Potato/sweet potato layer:

approx 3 pounds of potatoes or yams/sweet potatoes-the dark orange ones (roughly 7-8 large potatoes)

1/2 cup vegan butter/butter or ghee or Nutiva’s butter flavor coconut oil

salt

“Meaty” lentil veggie layer:

1.5 cups dried green or brown lentils, rinsed, sorted and drained (another variation can be done with cooked black eyed peas in which case omit the liquid below)

1.5 beef bouillon cubes+ 4 cups water (vegan sub: 4 cups vegetable broth. the beef bouillon gives “meat” like taste to lentils)

tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 celery stalks, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

3 garlic cloves, crushed (or sub with a little garlic powder if kids don’t like garlic or use a bit less. garlic is good for immunity though)

1/3 cup tomato paste

optional: tsp balsamic vinegar

sprinkle of dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste (use more if not using bouillon which adds saltiness)

most of 1 10 oz bag of frozen peas, carrots and green beans or just peas and carrots.. or just peas if using more fresh diced carrots (you may not use the whole bag depending on the size of your casserole dish..sometimes i make an extra half dish for leftovers..but honeslty who is using a measuring cup during quarantine dinners? eyeball it based on your dish size and what you already have in your freezer lol)

1 can of corn, drained (or frozen corn in a veggie mix), optional but delish

Instructions:

Before peeling potatoes prepare a pot of cold water to place them in to keep them from oxidizing and browning. This is not necessary for yams. If you want the potatoes to cook faster you can cut them into small pieces. Once all the potatoes are peeled and in the pot, salt and cook them on the stove until fork tender. Meantime prepare the filling.

heat olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot. saute the onions until translucent, stirring. add the celery, and carrots and cook for a few minutes then add garlic and cook all until soft, stirring often so the garlic doesn’t burn.

add the lentils to the pot with the water and bouillon or stock (and salt as without bouillon it will not be salty enough) and thyme. bring to boil then reduce to simmer until tender and the liquid is absorbed, approx 24-30 mins (if using cooked black eyed peas reduce the time and omit most of the broth, if using dried beans they willl take much longer then lentils). stir once in a while so the bottom of the pot doesn’t burn and see if extra liquid is needed.

in the meantime drain the potatoes and mash the potatoes with a potato masher along with ghee and salt to taste (ghee is more salty versus butter flavor coconut oil is not salty).

preheat oven to 375 degreees F.

add the frozen veg and canned corn as well as tomato paste and balsamic to the pot with the lentils. adjust salt to taste. mix.

move the lentil mixture into 9×13 inch casserole dish.

spoon the mashed potatoes on top and even them out with the back of a large spoon or fork (a fork will add ripples for texture)

bake for about 23-34 minutes or until the edges of the filling start bubbling and the mashed potatoes are looking nicely baked. if desired broil for a minute for crispiness.

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