The weather has been chilly and very rainy here in the Pacific Northwest this month. Rain is good and we do need it. But when I think that this is just beginning of the wet season, I sure wish I had a fast-forward button to springtime!
In the meantime though, wild mushrooms are everywhere! On my weekly trip to the grocery store, I found golden chanterelles selling for only $ 5.99 a pound! That’s cheap!! They often can cost up to four times that much.
By using local fall ingredients, this popular dish can be personalized to what’s growing in your area. The black Beluga lentils however, add a really nice texture, plenty of fiber and a whole lot of nutrition to this dish. They are often available at natural foods stores in the bulk bins. Give them a try! If you can’t find chanterelles, use any other mushrooms. I like the Romanesco because it stays fairly firm when cooked. Substitute cauliflower if your store or farmers market doesn’t carry it.
I really enjoyed this, and will experiment with other variations throughout the winter. The possibilities seem endless!
There are three steps to making this: the lentils; the mashed potatoes and the vegetables. Don’t let this deter you, because it doesn’t take all that long to make.
This Autumn Shepherd’s Pie is delicious and makes great left-overs!
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 cup black Beluga lentils
- 3 pounds of potatoes, a mixture of russet and fingerlings is nice
- a little unsweetened plant-based milk
- 3 tablespoons vegan butter or margerine
- Herbs de Provence
- 1 pound of fresh mushrooms (chanterelles are nice if you can get them), wiped clean and sliced
- 1 large head of Romanesco Cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 large yellow or red bell pepper, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 can of regular coconut milk
- sea salt and pepper
- a little smoked paprika
- olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375°.
Rinse and put the lentils into a small pot of water.
Add a teaspoon of salt and bring this to a boil.
Turn down the flame and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the lentils are tender, but firm.
Drain them and set aside.
While the lentils are cooking, wash and cut the potatoes into medium chunks.
I only peeled the russets, not the small potatoes.
Put them in a large enough pot filled with cold water.
Add a little salt and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.
Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot.
Turn the flame back on medium-low.
Pour some unsweetened non-dairy milk over the potatoes,
add the butter, some salt and a generous pinch or two of the herbs.
Mash the potatoes until you have the desired texture.
Turn off the heat and set them aside.
Next, peel and chop the onion.
In a large, deep, ovenproof sauté pan heat up a little olive oil.
Cook the onions for a few minutes.
Add the chopped bell pepper and continue to sauté.
Add the sliced mushrooms to the pan and turn up the heat.
Cook until the mushrooms are getting tender.
Add the Romanesco and the lentils to the pan.
Stir and season with a little salt, a few grinds of black pepper, a tablespoon
of smoked paprika and a teaspoon of Herbs de Provence.
Pour the can of coconut milk over the vegetables and bring to a simmer.
If the vegetables get too dry, add a little water.
Cover the pan and gently cook for about ten minutes.
Turn off the heat and taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Spread the mashed potato mixture evenly over the vegetables.
Dust the potatoes with the smoked paprika.
Bake the Shepherds pie in the oven until piping hot and a little browned on top.