Shepherd’s Pie

I really love how some British dishes have the most nonsensical names, as if they go out of their way cause confusion.  A local friend here expressed her bewilderment over “toad in a hole” recently, and I’ve also had to clarify more than once that “Yorkshire puddings” are not, in fact, puddings at all but served with a roast.  And consider “rarebit”, “spotted dick” and “bangers and mash”.  Then there’s “shepherd’s pie” – a pastry-less pie that does not contain shepherds, but surely one of the most comforting dishes of all time.  This is one of my favourite recipes that I’ve made countless times.  The filling is carrot and lentils, with plenty of thyme, and it’s topped with sweet potato and cheddar.  What more could you ask for?

Shepherd’s Pie (from BBC Good Food)

Serves 4


1tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, sliced

2 large carrots (about 500g), peeled and chopped into small chunks

2 tbsp chopped thyme

150ml red wine

400g can chopped tomatoes

2 vegetable stock cubes

410g can green lentils

950g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

25g butter

85g cheddar, grated


1.  Preheat oven to 190C.  Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion until golden.  Add the carrot and most of the thyme, then pour in the wine, 100ml water and the tin of tomatoes.  Crumble in the stock cubes, and simmer for 10 minutes.

2.  Tip in the can of lentils, including the liquid, and cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.

3.  Meanwhile, cook the sweet potatoes in a pan of boiling water for about 15 minutes, then drain, mash with the butter, and add some seasoning.  Pour the lentil mixture into a pie dish, spoon the mash on top, then sprinkle over the cheese and remaining thyme.

4.  Cook for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.  Lovely with plenty of broccoli!

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