Potato Pie with Lentils, Mushrooms and Spinach - adapted from Merchant Gourmet's Simple Plant-Based Cookbook
A truly tasty vegan recipe with lentils
Can it be?
Is this really a tasty and nutritious lentil dish?
Yes, it is!
Pulses often get a really bad press. For those of you as old as me, you may even remember The Young Ones, with Neil’s seemingly endless supply of lentil stews that no-one ever appeared to eat.
Probably for good reason…
Vegan lentil recipes
As vegans, we need to ensure we have a varied diet and that includes the nutrients and fibre that pulses provide.
However, when I first started cooking dishes containing pulses many moons ago, it’s safe to say that I could have cut out the middle man (person?) and thrown them straight in the bin and saved on the washing up.
Even now, many lentil recipes can be so bland, and so unappetising that frankly, I’d rather eat the packet they come in.
So why, and how, should we eat them? See the recipe below for one way of doing it!
But first, let’s look at the key ingredient more carefully…
What are pulses and legumes?
I realised that when it came to writing this post, I didn’t actually know the difference between a pulse and legume and thought the terms were interchangeable.
But, having now carried out extensive research into the world of legumes, I feel quite the expert. In fact, I even have people asking me legume-related questions now.
I guess they can see that I’ve really got my finger on the pulse.
OK, no more lentil jokes, I promise.
In very basic terms the word ‘legume’ indicates that a plant is part of the Fabaceae family. The seed of that legume plant is called a pulse.
Are legumes good for you?
Lentils, the seed of a legume plant, are a great source of nutrition for the healthy vegan. On their own, they provide:
- Soluble and insoluble fibre
- linoleic and oleic acids
If you combine them with something like rice, then it will help to provide a complete protein.
To add even more nutritional value to a meal made with lentils, you should also add plenty of fresh vegetables, preferably raw, steamed or roasted.
This means that pulses make a very positive contribution to the vegan diet and should be consumed regularly.
I’m not a nutritionist however, simply a vegan who has done quite a lot of research. I brought up a family on these principles and so it was important that I felt informed.
However, if you have any questions or concerns about nutrition, you should always consult with a qualified medical or nutritional professional.
Are all lentil dishes bland?
Thankfully not! I will be posting more recipes for dishes that I have cooked over the years, including some that my children loved and grew up on. You can find my recipe for lentil pasta sauce here for example.
However, you can spend an awful lot of time making random lentil recipes that you come across, and wonder whether the person who wrote it has ever actually cooked it, let alone eaten it!
What are some of the best lentil dishes?
Well, it doesn’t have to be like that any more, as the latest cookbook from the Merchant Gourmet fold shows us. I strongly recommend you try the recipe below if you are a lentil sceptic.
If you’d like to know more about this cookbook, please read my book review here.
If you are already persuaded and would like to buy the book, you can do so here.
In the meantime, I have reproduced below one of the recipes I have made several times already from this book. It is a delicious family meal that has mass appeal, and every generation in my family has thoroughly enjoyed it.
Buy a copy of Merchant Gourmet’s book here, and support local bookshops:
Potato Pie with Lentils, Mushrooms and Spinach
- 1 Frying or Sauté Pan
- 1 Medium baking dish
- 1 Mandolin or Food Processor to slice the potatoes - optional
- 2 tbsp Olive oil (preferably extra virgin) plus extra for brushing
- 3 Banana Shallots finely chopped
- 500 g mushrooms halved or quartered - a mix of chestnut, shiitake, portobello for example
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 4 sprigs thyme fresh leaves or use (less) dried
- 2 tbsp Madeira wine optional
- 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast optional
- 250 g cooked lentils (cooked weight) available in pouches or tins if you don't have time to cook dried lentils
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 150 ml vegan stock
- 100 ml vegan cream (or try Oatly Creme Fraiche)
- 1 handful parsley finely chopped
- 300 g baby spinach
- 100 g defrosted petit pois
- 3 medium potatoes peeled and sliced into 1mm thick slices
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan)/Gas Mark 6
- Peel and slice the potatoes into 1mm thick slices and put to one side
- Heat the oil in the frying or sauté pan over a medium heat, then add the shallots and a pinch of salt. Fry gently until they start to soften and colour slightly
- Turn the heat up a little and add the mushrooms. Fry for about 5 minutes until they start to caramelise
- Turn the heat back to medium and add the garlic and thyme, and madeira wine if using - let it bubble, stirring for a few minutes
- Stir in the nutritional yeast if using, then add the lentils and stir to combine
- Add the flour, stirring for a couple of minutes
- Slowly pour in the stock, followed by the cream and parsley, stirring to ensure there are no lumps
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes until the mixture has thickened a little
- Stir in the spinach and peas, season with salt and pepper, then remove from the heat and pour into the baking dish
- Arrange the sliced potatoes in a neat pattern on top of the filling so that the top is completely covered. Brush with a little extra oil and season, then bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbling and golden brown
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