My kids love my version of lentil shepherds pie, on one condition. All veggies have to be disguised. Unrecognisable. Whizzed up to such minute proportions it would take a master child forensic foodologist to decipher them. For this task and for practically every meal I make I rely on my faithful Kenwood processor. Without it I wouldn’t stand a cat in hells chance of getting anything wholesome into my kids. It is my best friend in the kitchen, and trust me, if you haven’t got one then go out and get one now!! I am so dependant on mine I am seriously considering taking it camping with me.
I also think it is important to make tasty appetising food and introduce even very young children to flavours and not just play it safe, sticking to bland stuff. This shepherds pie is tasty and a meal that will appeal to all ages. My kids were baby led weaners and basically as soon as they cut teeth they were ramming this stuff in their mouths in great fistfuls. I kid you not.
The recipe is basic and the veg used can be varied depending on what you have in and what is in season. At this time of year I like to whizz up mainly root veg, in the summer I might use peppers and courgettes, for example. In the quantities below you should be able to comfortably feed a family of two adults and two kids.
So to begin:
Peel some sweet potato and put on to cook:
You don’t have to use sweet potato of course, you can use any spuds, Desiree work well or even a mix of the two.
Take an onion (I prefer red but the white ones are less obvious in cooking for really fussy eaters), a stalk of celery, a medium carrot and whizz them in your blender until really fine.
Rinse some red lentils in a sieve:
Put in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of oil and sauté on a low heat:
Then add to the pan with a tin of tomatoes (I whizz these up in the blender too because my little darlings don’t like bits of any kind) with some stock and a splash of red wine if you fancy it .. (alcohol gets boiled off in cooking, the wine just adds a nice depth and richness to the sauce). I also add some herbs at this stage or a bouquet garni.
Bring to the boil and then put a lid on the pan until the lentils have softened. Make sure you check on it regularly because the lentils will adsorb a lot of the cooking liquid and you don’t want them to start sticking.
If need be, add more stock to the sauce. I prefer this stock (btw) :
Once the spuds are cooked you can drain and mash with plenty of butter, a splash of milk and some grated cheese if you fancy it.
Pour the lentil mixture into a large Pyrex dish or suitable oven dish and spoon the mash over the top. You can then drag a fork over to make pretty lines if you wish!
I serve it with steamed broccoli or peas for the kids and for the adults I pan fry until wilted some kale with salt and pepper and my personal favourite, a little chopped red chilli.