A recent question about eating lentils brought up one of my favorite ways to eat them; in my Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie. Shepherd’s pie is such a great dish because it is so versatile; a “crust”, a vegetable filling and a mashed potato topping. It makes a delicious meal served with say, a hearty salad and a tasty millet muffin. Because only half of my family are vegetarians, I usually make two pies, one with a ground turkey crust and one with a lentil crust. So there are plenty of tasty leftovers to keep everyone happy for a couple of days.
, (Lens Esculenta
), also known in Indian cuisine as dal, are a legume (as are all dried beans and peas) and are very quick and easy to prepare. Unlike other types of legumes, lentils do not require a long soaking time before you can cook with them. They come in different varieties, green, brown, black, yellow, orange, and red, although most of us are familiar with the green one which is easily available. Lentils are powerhouses of nutrition being very high in fiber, folate, tryptophan and manganese – good for healthy bones, fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis, and helping stabilize blood sugar among other things. They are also good sources of protein, iron and phosphorus, all of which the body needs for bone health.
When cooking with lentils they need to be sorted and rinsed before cooking. The usual ratio is three cups of water to one cup of lentils. Bring the water to a boil, add the lentils, cook on medium for approximately 30 minutes (if you like mushy lentils you can cook them longer). Remove the lentils from the heat and let sit 10 minutes, so they settle and firm up a bit before using in a recipe. If you are using them in a salad, let the lentils cool completely before adding them to your other ingredients and dressing.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
Prepare your lentils as mentioned above, but add 1/2 C. chopped onion to the water
After the cooked lentils and onion have rested mash them together with:
1 T. nutritional yeast
1 T. dried, minced veggie seasoning
In a lightly greased pie pan, put in the mixture and shape it into a bottom crust
Fill the crust with your choice of lightly steamed or thawed veggies (about 2 C.)
Top with mashed potatoes
Sprinkle with paprika
Bake 20 minutes, serve and enjoy