The delicate Puy Lentil was an excellent substitute for beef in this cottage pie recipe. While delicate in flavour, Puy lentils are thought by some to be the best of their kind for their ability to keep their shape when cooked over long periods.
Considered the 'pearl of central France", the lentils are cultivated in the Le Puy region where they were introduced from the Mediterranean by the Gauls. So loved are the little lentils that a group of locals established the Confrérie de la Lentille du Puy (The Brotherhood of the Puy Lentil).
The group takes part in annual food events and parades where members don slate-green coloured robes embroidered with lentils and wear lentil-shaped hats. All the while singing songs about little green lentils. If this isn't a testament to their greatness, then I don't know what is!
I threw in whatever ingredients I had handy including squash, okra, carrots, celery and canned Roma tomatoes. I used some parsley and cilantro freshly picked from our windowsill herb garden. I also added a dash of dried chili flakes. The filling was topped with a creamy topping of mash potatoes and Parmesan cheese.
The cottage pie was scrumptious. The lentils soaked up the flavours of the vegetables and herbs while still retaining their distinct pepperiness. While I do love the traditional beef-filled cottage pie or lamb-filled shepherd's pie, I think the little green Puy has a new place in my heart.
I'm submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging hosted this week by Cate at Sweetnicks.
Vegetarian Cottage Pie Recipe
1 cup of puy lentils, soaked in cold water for 20 minutes
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp chili flakes
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 cob of corn, kernels sliced off
1 cup of sliced okra
1 tbs of finely chopped parsley
1 tbs of finely chopped cilantro
1 796 ml canned of good quality whole tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cup of water
1 1/2 tsp of sea salt
2 tbs of olive oil
Special equipment: baking dishes or ramekins
5 large yellow potatoes, peeled
1/4 cup of milk
1 tbs of butter
1 tsp of sea salt
Parmesan for grating
- Drain the lentils. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium high heat. Add the onions and fry until translucent. Add the garlic and chili flakes and fry for 1 minute. Add the celery, carrots, corn and okra. Fry for about 5 minutes.
- Add the salt and chopped tomatoes to the mixture. Stir well and then simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the water and the puy lentils, then lower heat and simmer for about 25 minutes or until liquid reduces to about half.
- Add the herbs and stir well. Taste the mixture and add more salt if necessary.
- Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until soft (about 25 minutes)
- Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
- Drain the potatoes and then add milk, butter and salt. Beat with an electric mixture. The potatoes should be a little drier. Set aside.
- Once the liquid from the lentils has reduced, spoon them into the ramekins and then gently spread the mashed potato on top. Grate on some cheese and then bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the potato has formed a crust.