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April actually marks a year since I subconsciously stopped eating meat without actually confirming this fact to myself.  It wasn’t until my trip to Florence in July when my dietry needs were really tested and I had to announce to a waiter that I don’t eat meat and ocassionally eat fish.

Right now I can’t see myself eating meat in the forseeable future.  However, I hate the restrictions of labels and will never admit that I may not eat meat in a few years time.  I don’t know.  I cannot see into the future and this point in time meat really isn’t floating my boat, but things change.  I’m currently enjoying feasting on lots of fresh produce, grains and pulses…perfect!

Nevertheless, there are many different meat based foods which I miss and have found alternatives for such as cottage pie, perfect for our current freezing climate in the UK.  A few weeks ago I posted a photo of my Lentil and Vegetable Cottage Pie with Root Vegetable Mash and since then many of you have asked for the recipe, so here it goes…


Ingredients (vegetarian, makes 2 large or 4 small servings)

  • 1 medium sized onion diced

  • 1 clove of garlic minced

  • 2 carrots finely diced

  • 1 leak diced

  • 1/2 cup of chestnut mushrooms sliced

  • 3 cups of pre-soaked green lentils

  • vegetable stock

  • 2 tbsps of tomato paste

  • 400g of organic tinned tomatoes

  • 2 tsps of dried mixed herbs

  • salt and black pepper

  • 1 large sweede

  • 5 pasnips

  • soy milk
  • low fat spread or a non dairy alternative

  • canola oil

In a large pan boil the pre-soaked lentils in the vegetable stock.  Add ebough stock to cover the lentils as you can always add more later if needed.  Once cooked, drain and set aside.

In a casserole dish on a low heat warm through a little bit of canola oil (or your oil of choice) and add the onions, cooking until transluscent (5-6 mins).  Add the leek, carrots and mushroom and stir from time to time.  Once the vegetables are almost tender add the garlic, being mindful that it doesn’t burn.

Add the tomato paste and cook out for a few minutes before adding the tinned tomatoes.  Stir in the dried mixed herbs and green lentils and season to taste.  Place the lid on the casserole dish and allow the mixture to simmer for at least 15-20 minutes on a low heat until it has reduced, stir from time to time.

To make the root vegetable mash boil your swede and parsnips until cooked through.  Drain and place in a bowl and mash with a potato masher.  I put them in my food processor to get a more smooth and creamier texture. Add in the soy milk and low fat spread until a light fluffy texture is produced. Season to taste.

Next pour the cottage pie filling into a baking dish and flatten down with the back of a spoon.  Add the root vegetable mash on top until the filling is completely covered.

Bake the pie for about 25 minutes at gas mark 6 or until the mash has turned golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

This was so comforting on a cold winter night  and makes perfect leftovers as it also stores wrapped in the fridge and freezes well too.

Have you switched to a meat free diet? If so what is the one favourite meat based dish that you have adapted to suit your new diet preferences?

What is your favourite winter comfort food?