Phil Vickery’s vegetable shepherd’s pie

The recipe title may sound like an oxymoron, but you know what I mean. This is quite a nice alternative to a meat version, and it’s always good to bring some changes to the potato topping. I add yeast extract instead of Worcestershire sauce; you could also add a little brown miso paste to help develop the flavour profile if you like, though take care as it can be quite salty.

vegetable shepherds pie
Tara Fisher

SERVES 4
JUST £3.75

4 tbsp any oil
400g chestnut mushrooms, very finely chopped (I use a Magimix)
4 small onions, finely chopped
2 x 400g cans or packets cooked green lentils, well drained
2-3 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp tomato purée
pinch of dried thyme
2 tbsp yeast extract (such as Marmite) or vegetable Bovril
2 x 10g vegetable stock cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE MASH

350g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
350g sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small cauliflower, chopped into small chunks
150ml hot milk
50g butter or olive oil

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the mushrooms. Cook for 15 minutes to reduce the moisture. Add the onions and lentils and break up well. Cook for 15 minutes until all the moisture has evaporated.

2. Add the flour and mix well, then cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the flour browns well on the bottom of the pan. Next add the tomato purée, thyme, yeast extract, stock cubes and enough water to just cover the vegetables. Season well with pepper (check the salt – you may not need it) and cook for 20-25 minutes – gently or the flour will catch – stirring occasionally. After this time, the mixture should be fairly thick: pour or spoon into a baking dish and leave to cool.

3. Preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Gently boil both types of potato together for 15-20 minutes. Once cooked, add the cauliflower and cook for a further 10 minutes, then drain well. Mash everything really well together, then whisk the hot milk and butter or oil into the mash and season well with salt and pepper. The mash should be not too creamy but soft.

4. Spoon on to the cooled, set mince and fluff up with a fork. Then heat in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden and slightly crunchy. Serve with microwaved wedges of spring greens and peas.

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