I’m having a love affair with tinned lentils. It’s so romantic. In a ragu ‘situation’, it’s absolutely brilliant as a substitute for mince. In veggie bolognese, for example, it’s so like meat, but cheap and healthy – kids love it and they don’t notice the difference. Arthur said that it was exactly the same as shepherd’s pie, and even though he could see the veggies, like the courgette, he didn’t mind as it was covered in gravy!! That is literally what he said, almost verbatim. If you are trying to eat less meat or actually are a vegetarian then this is a great recipe for you.
In my experience, kids seem to like so called nursery food best of all. Soft mushy stuff that has no really strong, overwhelming flavours, but is comforting. Fish pie is a staple at our table, as is stuff like moussaka and lasagne, which although they aren’t traditionally nursery food, I would still class them in that group. It’s comfort food really isn’t it? Basically Arthur would eat a lot of stuff if it had gravy on it. He loves roast dinners, but he’s not a massive fan of vegetables, so if they’re chopped up small like this, all the better.
I also added a tin of baked beans to my shepherd’s pie. To pad it out, but also to add to the sauce. I used gravy granules – yes I do use them sometimes! – and added boiling water to make extra gravy and then drained the pie mix. I do this a lot when making any pie – then the gravy is done and also it tastes amazing, thanks to cooking with veg (and meat or whatever your pie is made of).
We served it with Brussels sprouts, which Adam pointed out aren’t in season yet. Oh well, I picked them up at Aldi recently as Bea loves them (I know, I’m very lucky where she is concerned with veggies – can’t say the same for Artie though!). Me and her munched through most of that big bowl full. But if you don’t like them just serve it with your kids favourite veggies – peas would be nice!
I used leftover mash from a fish pie earlier in the week – always make double if making mash to use later on!
Serves: 4-6 people
Takes: 1 hour
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 leek, finely diced
3 carrots, finely diced
2 courgettes, finely diced
1 tin baked beans
1 tin lentils, not drained
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Few tablespoons of gravy granules (use veggie ones if you are a vegetarian)
Leftover mash – or around 700g red skinned potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
Grated cheddar for topping
- If not got leftover mash, peel, chop and boil your potatoes. Mash with butter, a little milk and season. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a pan, soften diced veggies for about 10 minutes.
- Add beans and lentils – undrained. Splash of Lea and Perrins too if you have it.
- Add a few tablespoons of gravy granules and about 500ml of boiling water so that you have a very liquid – but thick – consistency. Adjust till you think it’s right. Cook for 30 mins until the veggies are soft, on a low heat.
- Preheat oven to 180C.
- Sieve the mixture over a jug to catch the gravy. You may wish to add more granules and water to this – depends how much gravy you like.
- Add the pie mixture to a baking dish and cover with mash. Then add cheese. Bake for 30 mins.
- Serve with a nice veg side and lots of gravy.