We're all down with colds in varying degrees, plus the boys and I got caught in the rain when we went shopping to buy Christopher a replacement flask earlier. He broke the lid on his yesterday, typically just days before we go on a long car journey and he'll need it! We managed to get an identical one, which pleased him, though neither of us enjoyed the weather. Luckily we all had woolly hats with us. So tonight, just in case, I thought I'd better administer a super-sized dose of vegetables at dinner time. This variation of a good old cottage pie is, I think, even better than the usual 'standard' one I make, and I'm sure I'll make it again before too long.
Mega-Veg Cottage Pie
2 large parsnips
1 large onion
1 large carrot
1-2 sticks of celery
250g lean beef mince
4 tbsp split red lentils
knob of butter, melted
25g grated parmesan
Peel the parsnips and cut into large chunks. Cook until tender, either in boiling water or in a steamer, for about 10-15 minutes. When cooked, put them through a potato ricer or coarsely mash them. Don't bother to stir it together if you rice it, it gives a really nice texture to the top of the pie.
Meanwhile, heat some olive oil (garlic-infused, if you've got some) and fry the finely chopped onion, carrot and celery until soft. Set aside in a bowl, then brown the mince thoroughly. Add the lentils and 250ml water, then return the vegetables to the pan and simmer until the lentils are cooked through. They will absorb a lot of the liquid, so add a splash more water if it gets a bit too dry.
Tip the meat mixture into an ovenproof dish, then top with the parsnip. Brush with a little melted butter and sprinkle over the parmesan. Pop it in the oven and bake at 180°c for 20 minutes or so, until the top is crisp and tinged with brown.
I don't think that this pie really needs anything to go with it, although Karl loves a good sploosh of Henderson's Relish on anything like this. Chris is really keen on the stuff too, the Sheffield genes are obviously strong!