When I crave comfort food, I want something warm, creamy, hearty, and absolutely delicious. I also want something that is easy to digest, packed with nutrients, and that won't weigh me down for hours after consuming it. This Sweet Potato Lentil Shepherd's Pie perfectly encapsulates all of the qualities of a perfectly comforting meal, and I have already made it several times as the weather's gotten colder. The lentil and vegetable base is made extra special with dried porcini mushrooms, one of my favorite ingredients in savory dishes. The porcinis have a wonderful earthy, umami flavor that adds so much depth to this dish. I have found them here in Austin at Sprouts, Central Market, and even HEB. Most health-supportive grocery stores should carry them, and they are also available for purchase online.
I absolutely love using lentils in new and versatile ways, and believe they are such an important staple in a plant-based diet. Lentils are packed with fiber, protein, and important nutrients like manganese, iron and folate. Plus they are incredibly cost-effective! I like to buy organic lentils in bulk from my local health food store. Just make sure to rinse them well before cooking, as you should remember to do with anything you buy from the bulk section (and with legumes and grains in general). The combination of the hearty, savory lentils with the creamy sweet potato and fresh rosemary is absolutely heavenly. I hope you all enjoy my take on this classic comfort dish!
Sweet Potato Lentil Shepherd's Pie
yields 8 servings
1/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
1 yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
16 oz mushrooms (I use cremini), sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, destemmed
2 bay leaves
2 cups brown or green lentils
4-5 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup tamari
1 cup green peas, frozen and thawed
1 cup sliced fresh green beans
4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
Additional fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 375F.
Soak the porcini mushrooms in just enough hot water to cover them for 20 minutes. Do not toss out the soaking liquid! Roughly chop the porcinis and set aside.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, sauté the onion in a little bit of oil for 5 minutes, or until it starts to caramelized. Add in the carrots, celery, mushrooms and garlic, sauté 6-7 minutes more or until the mushrooms release their liquid.
Rinse your lentils well and add them in with the rosemary, bay leaves, a pinch of black pepper, the porcini mushrooms (with soaking liquid) and the vegetable broth. Start with 4 cups of broth, and add more as the lentils cook if they begin to look dry. Bring to a boil, cover, turn down to simmer, and let the mixture cook on medium-low for about 40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Stir occasionally and add more liquid as needed.
As the lentils cook, place the chopped sweet potato in a large pot and cover with cool water, add a pinch of salt. Bring water to boil, let boil for about 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain. Add the potatoes back into the pot and using a potato masher or large fork, mash the potatoes until smooth. Add a pinch more salt, pepper, and some more chopped fresh rosemary.
When the lentils are cooked, add in the balsamic vinegar, tamari, peas, and green beans. You may pick out the bay leaves if desired at this point. Turn the heat off. Add more salt or tamari to taste if desired. The lentil mixture should be thick like a stew, not too watery.
Spread lentil mixture evenly in a large baking dish. Spoon dollops of the mashed sweet potato over the mixture, and using the back of a spoon or spatula, gently spread the sweet potato over the lentil mixture.
Bake uncovered for about 40 minutes, the edges should brown slightly but not too dark. Let cool slightly before serving. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 5-6 days.