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A new website and a Vegan Shepherds Pie

Ok, so, well, the reason that I finally got around to rebuilding my site was an unrelated comment that someone made the other day on a group chat. I’d moaned that I was furloughed again and didn’t have much to do and they said that I should “write a cook book”. I post lots of pictures on Instagram of what I’ve been cooking, but I don’t think that I could be arsed to write a cook book. The occasional recipe blog seemed like a much easier proposal, but it turns out that my old site was terrible for posting blogs too (and also looked a bit like ye olde t’interweb). A speedy rebuild on WordPress and I now have a much more flexible site to post to.

I love cooking and often mix and match and make up recipes. I’ll give anything a go. I will eat anything, but as my wife Emily is Vegetarian (and it’s good for the planet) we often eat veggie and vegan food at home. Tonight’s recipe is a Vegan shepherds Pie, that came about through wanting to use up some sprouty potatoes and droopy carrots. Normally I would make a meat free Shepherds Pie using Meatless Farm Mince, but I didn’t go shopping this week so there was none in the fridge.

I turned to the cupboard for inspiration and settled on Pearl Barley and Lentils. Some Puy lentils would have been a good shout for more texture, but they aren’t something that live in our cupboard. The red split lentils kinda break down to nothing, but thats not necessarily a bad thing, as you do end up with a nice thick sauce.

I think that the key to making tasty veggie and vegan food is to not forget about getting lots of flavour in there. I wanted to make sure that this recipe had flavour in the sauce and in the potato topping. The secret to this one is the love it or hate it taste of Marmite. If you hate it it probably isn’t in your cupboard, but it really is a great way to get a deep rich flavour in the sauce. As for the potatoes, for a veggie version i would be chucking in some strong cheddar, but this Pie is vegan. Nutritional Yeast Flakes are the solution to getting a great cheesy vegan flavour.

Vegan Lentil and Pearl Barley Shepherds Pie

1 large Onion finely diced
250g Carrot Diced
1 tbsp oil
2 Cloves garlic finely minced
100g Red Split lentils – Rinsed
100g Pearl Barley – Rinsed
3 tsp Marmite
2 tbsp Tomato puree
500ml Vegetable Stock
Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
1 Tsp Dried Thyme
Hand full frozen peas
5 cubes of frozen spinach / bag of baby spinach
800g Potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (or a handful or grated cheddar if you’re not vegan)
2 tbsp vegan spread
Extra spread to dot over top
Salt and pepper

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.  Add the carrot and onion and cook until the onion has begun to brown.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the marmite and tomato puree and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the lentils, pearl barley, tinned tomatoes, stock and thyme.  Season with salt and pepper and stir well.  Bring to the boil then cover and turn the heat to low.  Simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally to stop it from sticking.
  5. Add the frozen peas for the last 10 minutes of cooking time
  6. If using fresh spinach, add at the end of the cooking time and stir until wilted.  If using frozen spinach, put the cubes in a bowl with a little water, cover and microwave for 5 minutes, stirring half-way through.  Remove from the microwave, drain and squeeze out any excess water, roughly chop then add to the saucepan.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
  8. Add the potatoes to a pan of cold salted water.  Bring to the boil and cook until potatoes are soft when jabbed with a fork.  Drain in a colander and allow to steam dry.
  9. Put the potatoes back in the pan, add the nutritional yeast, spread and seasoning, mash well.
  10. Put the lentil mixture in a large pyrex dish and top with the potato, rough up the top with a fork and dot with spread.
  11. Bake at 180°c (Fan) for 45 minutes until the top is golden brown

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