Mmmmm mmmmm - open wide for a mouthful of mud and snow covered in little white worms! Or at least, that is what my lovely pie has ended up looking like in this picture. It's not the most glamourous of gastronomical spoonfuls, in any sense.
But to hell with glamour. As the newscasters shower us with ever more scary statistics and shadowy harbingers of impending economic doom, and the frequency with which we converse about energy bills and the price of a loaf of bread multiplies exponentially, there is a place for a little humble pie. Simple - yes, ugly - maybe so. But tasty, comforting, cheap and easy too...
I've told you before of my love for lentils, I'm sure. And may have even mentioned how smitten I am with sweet spring cabbage... So, whilst for most people the idea of the two together may engender merely mild disgust, or even sniggers at the supposed flatulent effects of these two fibrous heavyweights, I am licking my lips with glee.
This is then, a fairly basic little recipe. It's nothing particularly new or clever, but with a little seasoning trickery and some rich luxurious dairy products sneaked in, it's really much more delicious and satisfying than you might imagine of a lentil and cabbage pie...
Saucepan-Style Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie
(Serves about 4)
* Chop an onion, a couple of sticks of celery and a carrot in to small dice
* In a heavy over-proof cocotte (if you have one - otherwise use a normal saucepan and transfer to oven dish later) heat a little olive oil over a low flame, and cook the diced veg, stirring frequently until softened
* Add in half a cup of lentilles vertes, a couple of bay leafs, a finely chopped clove (or two) of garlic, and stir until the lentils are coated in oil.
* Add a good squirt of tomato puree and mix in
* Top up with a couple of cups of stock, bring to the boil and lower to a simmer (stir every couple of minutes and top up with water/stock if it looks like getting dry)
* Meanwhile, cube about 6-8 small potatoes (3-4 larger ones), peeled if you like (though I rarely bother) and cook in salted boiling water.
* After about 15-20 minutes, your potatoes should be done, and your lentils will just want another 10 minutes or so. At this point, drain the potatoes and add half a pointed (spring) cabbage, finely shredded, to the vegetable pot. Add also a can of chopped tomatoes.
* Mash potatoes with a generous knob of butter and a splash of cream (or milk if you don't have cream) and maybe a little parmesan, or any other hard cheese of your choosing.
* Once the lentils are almost cooked, and the cabbage wilted down, mix around, adjust seasoning for taste, and then top with the mashed potato (transfer first to an overproof dish if your saucepan isn't ovenproof)
* Pop in an oven preheated to 200C and cook for 20-30 minutes until browned on top.