French Green Lentils
Amaltheia Organic Produce - Belgrade
Kimm's Organic Potatoes - Manhattan
Timeless Natural Food - Ulm
Wustner Brothers' Honey Co. - Missoula
Amaltheia Organic Dairy - Belgrade
Three Hearts Farm - Bozeman
Lentil Shepherd's Pie
A vegetarian version of this classic comfort dish with lots of options for substitutions. See notes! Prep time will be reduced if you have leftover mashed potatoes, but they don't take too long to make on their own and you can cook the lentils at the same time. Adapted from Samantha Seneviratne's recipe, NYTimes cooking. Serves 4-6.
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
~2 lbs russet potatoes (~3 large), scrubbed and cut into chunks. Peel if you prefer.
6 Tbs unsalted butter, divided, or ~6 Tbs olive oil
1/2 C milk or reserved water from boiling the potatoes
1/2 C sour cream (optional)
2-4 oz feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
3/4 C French green lentils, uncooked
4 sprigs thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
3 1/2 C vegetable broth
8 oz mixed mushrooms, such as button, cremini, and shitaake, chopped
1 C onion, shallot, or leek, sliced thin
1 C carrots, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs flour (sub 1 Tbs cornstarch, or other thickener)
1 C frozen peas, thawed
2 oz pea shoots, chopped
1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
For the potatoes, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 2 Tbs salt and potatoes and boil for ~15 min or until potatoes are easily pierced with a knife. Drain potatoes well, reserving potato water if you're omitting the milk, return to pot and mash potatoes until relatively smooth. Add 4 Tbs butter (or olive oil) and milk (or potato water) and sour cream (if using) and combine until just until blended. Stir in 1/2 of the crumbled feta and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside. [Continued on reverse....]
For the filling, cook the lentils with the thyme, 1 tsp salt, and 2 C of broth in a pan at a simmer, partly covered, until lentils are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, ~20 minutes. Remove thyme stems, if using whole sprigs.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Heat 2 Tbs butter or olive oil in an oven-safe skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they are deep golden brown, ~8-10 min. Reduce the heat to medium and add onion, carrots and garlic, and continue to cook until tender, ~10 min. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato paste and stir, cooking until it is well combined, 2-3 min. Sprinkle flour or cornstarch over the mixture, stir and cook for 1 min. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups broth, cooked lentils, peas, most of the chopped pea shoots (reserving a handful), and cook until thickened. Stir in lemon juice and adjust to taste.
Top the mixture with dollops of the mashed potatoes, then spread them out over the top. I prefer a rustic cover, as the crags get more browning, but you can smooth to your heart's content. Sprinkle with the remaining feta, if using. Transfer to the oven and, if the filling looks in danger of bubbling over, set a foil-lined baking sheet underneath the pan to catch any drips. Bake until the potatoes have begun to brown and the edges are bubbling, ~30 minutes. Let stand at room temperature to cool slightly before serving. Garnish finished pie with remaining pea shoots.
This can be a dairy-heavy dish. For some, that's a selling point, for others, not so much. If you want to reduce or omit the dairy, replace the butter with olive oil and/or the milk with water from cooking the potatoes- the starchy water will help everything bind. Sour cream and cheese are for richness and flavor, and can be omitted or adjusted. Just be sure to generously season the potatoes. I can't say how well using vegan butter, milks, or sour cream substitutes will work in mashed potatoes, so I'll leave that experimenting up to you.
The vegetables called for in the filling are almost entirely exchangeable. Use what you have or what you like. Just try to keep the quantity about the same: 1 C of one for 1 C of the other. And remember that things like celery or bell peppers release more water than things like carrots or parsnips, so you may need to adjust the broth or the thickener to get the consistency right.
Other Item Notes for This Week
Pea shoots are a great addition to salads, stir-fry, or pestos. They taste almost like spring.
Creamed honey: This is simply raw honey that's been spun in a honey creamer to control the crystallization process, keeping it smooth and spreadable. Use it like any raw honey. Gently heating will improve its spreadability.