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Meatless Mondays: Lentil and Black Bean Shepard's Pie


These are unprecedented, crazy times we’re living in right now. As I am writing this blog post, the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States is up to 3,000 and the numbers are only expected to rise. Restaurant, cafes, movie theaters and schools are all closed in an attempt to stop the spread. If you have kids like me, you’re wondering what the heck you’re going to do for the next three weeks to maintain a sense of normalcy and balance in your lives.

When times are stressful, uncertain and full of angst, I often turn to my kitchen to soothe my soul and find peace. Something about being in a warm kitchen (full of wonderful aromas and sounds) slows my breathing slows, swells my heart and puts a smile on my face. Gather your children and share some meaningful time in the kitchen together. Help them use math skills while they double or triple a recipe, help them use science skills while they bake some cupcakes or brownies and help them use social skills while you chat together (unencumbered by a screen) and share stories, ideas or personal reflections. Spending time in the kitchen as a family is a wonderful way to connect.

The following recipe is a favorite in our house, especially around St. Patrick’s Day and you won’t even miss the meat because this recipe is so hearty and satisfying. Because we’ve all been advised to stock up on shelf stable items, chances are you have everything you need in your pantry for this delicious recipe!

LENTIL AND BLACK BEAN SHEPARD’S PIE

  • 2 cups dried lentils, rinsed and drained

  • 4 cups water or vegetable broth

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 cup baby Portabella mushrooms, coarsely chopped

  • 1 cup (about 1 small yellow onion) diced

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 onion powder

  • pinch of paprika

  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste

  • 1 x 15.5 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained

  • about 1 1/2 cups frozen peas (thawed)

  • about 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels (thawed)

     

  • 2 pounds of potatoes (any kind will do, but we love red russet and Yukon gold), cut into similar sized cubes/chunks

  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup milk

  • 3 TBSP butter

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste

  • about 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or 3 tabs of butter (optional)

 

LENTILS:

  1. Combine the lentils, water or broth and the bay leaf in a medium sized pot.

  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 18-20 minutes.

  3. Drain the water immediately. You don’t want them mushy! Keep covered.

 

MASHED POTATOES:

  1. Add the potatoes to cold water, make sure each potato is at least 1 inch under water.

  2. Generously sprinkle with sea salt. Bring to a boil.

  3. Reduce heat to medium-high (or whatever temperature is needed to maintain the very low boil) and continue cooking for about 10-12 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle of a potato goes in easily with almost no resistance. 

  4. Carefully drain out all of the water.

  5. Add the butter, milk, more sea salt, black pepper, and garlic powder to the potatoes, mix well.

  6. Taste to see if you want more spices added. If too dry, add more butter and milk. Remember, you can always add, you can’t take away, so go slowly.

  7. Set aside.

 

LENTIL/BLACK BEAN “MEAT” MIXTURE:

  1. In a large skillet, heat a bit of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the the mushrooms and cook for about 5-8 minutes on one side, then turn and cook for another 5 minutes.

  2. Add the onions and continue to cook until they are soft and shiny, about 8 minutes. Stir occasionally.

  3. Add the sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika, stir well.

  4. Add the black beans and cooked lentils and stir to incorporate. I use the back of the large spoon or fork to mash a bit of the beans so there is a nice difference in texture to this dish, but you don’t have to.

 

ASSEMBLE THE PIE:

  1. Evenly distribute the lentil/bean mixture in a large casserole dish.

  2. Next, top with the thawed corn and peas.

  3. Next, top with the mashed potatoes, top with additional shredded cheese or pads of butter (optional)

  4. Cook in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Serve warm.

  5. We loved this dinner with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon or a rich Zinfandel.

Do you have any recipes you love and plan to make with your kids in the next few weeks? We’d love to be inspired by you, so please share.

Hang in there everyone. As my mom always says, “this too shall pass”.

With love,

Jane


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