Now here we go! Comfort food at it’s finest! Today I give you – Vegetarian Cottage Pie! This mouthwatering pie is chock full of a savory mix of Guinness drenched french lentils, leeks, mushrooms, carrots and peas and topped with dreamy creamy crunchy tangy mashed potatoes! I swear you will not miss the meat at all!
You can pretty much find Shepherd’s Pie on most menus of any Irish pub you visit. Technically Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb. If it doesn’t have lamb, such as the lamb shoulder found in Chef Cathal Armstrong’s pie that I shared with you a few years ago:
Or lamb mince, like Chef Gordon Ramsey prefers:
then it is called a Cottage Pie.
Today’s dish gets rid of the meat altogether, instead letting a melange of mushrooms and hearty thyme flavored Le Puy lentils stand in, and might I add, steal the show!
The Mashed Potato topping used here is superb as well, with sour cream and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese providing a delightful tangy umami taste. Those flavor packed potatoes get even more magical when baked as you get a crispy crunch, followed with the creamy interior in every forkful.
Just so you know, the Husband has proclaimed this his favorite, over all of the Shepherd/cottage pies he has every sampled. High praise ya’ll! You simply must make this for your St. Patrick’s Day party!
Vegetarian Cottage Pie
recipe adapted from: Samantha Seneviratne via New York Times Cooking
For the mash topping:
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered (about 3 large)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup packed grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano is not vegetarian, so if you are strict vegetarian and not just doing a Meatless Monday, make sure you use a vegetarian cheese) or vegetarian Parmesan, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the filling:
- 3/4 cup french lentils (you can use other lentils, but I prefer Le Puy, which hold their shape with cooking)
- 4 sprigs of thyme
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 8 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms, such as button, cremini, and shitaake
- 1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 can of Guinness Beer (14.9 ounces)
- 1 can of le sueur small peas (8 ounce) drained
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
In a large pot, bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil over high heat. Add potatoes to boiling water and boil for about 15 to 20 minutes, until fork tender. Drain potatoes well. Using a potato ricer, rice the potatoes into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium low for one minute. In a small saucepan or a microwave oven, heat 6 tablespoons of the butter and milk together until butter melts. Add the hot butter mixture to the potatoes and beat until just combined. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth. Set aside 1 Tablespoon of the 1/2 cup of Parmigiano, then add the remaining amount to the potatoes. Mix on medium high until creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.
Place the lentils, thyme and 2 cups of the broth in a large sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to a simmer with 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce the heat and continue to cook the lentils, partly covered, until they are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Transfer the lentils to a bowl and set aside.
Melt the butter in the 10-inch skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until they are deep golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add leeks, carrots and garlic, and continue to cook until tender, another 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the tomato paste and stir, cooking until it is well combined, another 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the mixture, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the can of Guinness, cooked lentils and drained can of peas. Cook until thickened. Remove thyme stems.
Transfer lentil filling to a 2 quart casserole dish or 11″x7″ baking dish. You could use a 13″x9″ dish if you prefer but I prefer to use a smaller pan so the the filling layer is deeper. Dollop the mashed potato topping over the filling and spread into an even layer. Or add the potatoes to a piping bag with a star tip and pipe a fancy design over the top as I did. Sprinkle the 1 Tablespoon of remaining Parmigiano over the top. Place the dish on a parchment paper lined baking tray and transfer to the oven. Bake the pie until the potatoes have begun to brown and the edges are bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.