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Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

While Mrs Doubtfire turns his nose up at this and sniffs "Where's the meat dish?", it is scoffed eagerly by The Naughty Knight. "Mmmmm, Mum this is lovely, we must have this again."  Cheap, filling and delicious as well as full of nutrition and low fat (I presume, with all those pulses). What more could we Dinner Ladies ask for?  
Ingredients
  • onion, chopped finely
  • 4-5 cups worth of variety of seasonal vegetable, chopped small e.g. carrots, parsnips, swede in winter; courgette, tomato, pepper in summer/autumn
  • 2/3 cup dried green lentils
  • 2/3 cup yellow split peas
  • half bottle passatta
  • 1 bay leaf
  • couple of cloves garlic, crushed
  • large sprig fresh thyme or tsp dried thyme
  • potatoes - as many as you will need to make enough mash for your bellies
  • celeriac/ swede if you have some in the fridge - again as much as you think you will need to make enough mash for the top
  • large knob butter
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream if you have some in the fridge, give or take
  • handful grated cheddar cheese if you are feeling extravagant
Method
  1. First of all wash the lentils and split peas well. Cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until cooked but not mushy.  Drain well.  
  2. Meanwhile, fry an onion in a little olive oil until nicely golden.
  3. Add the seasonal vegetables and coat well. 
  4. Add the lentils and split peas to the mixture. 
  5. Add the passata, bay leaf, garlic, thyme and season to taste.  Stir well.  Bring to simmering point and leave to cook, stirring as needed. 
  6. Meanwhile, peel and chop the potatoes and celeriac/swede if using.  Boil till cooked very tender and mash thoroughly, adding the butter, milk and any left over cream you may have lying around.  Season to taste.  
  7. Transfer the lentil, split pea and vegetable mixture into an oven proof dish, cover with the mash and place in medium hot oven for about half an hour or until golden.   If you dollop the potato on roughly, it will form peaks that will crispen deliciously.  
  8. When it is nearly cooked, sprinkle some grated cheddar cheese if using and finish off for 5-10 minutes more.  
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