Shepherdless pie

Shepherdless pie

A meat-free alternative to a classic shepherd’s pie.

Rachel Khoo

Rachel Khoo's Kitchen Notebook: London

BBC Lifestyle


• 200g lentils (puy or beluga are best)
• 1 lapsang souchong tea bag
• 1 onion
• 1 carrot
• 8 mushrooms
• 10 cherry tomatoes
• 1 tbsp sweet smoky paprika
• 2 tbsp tomato paste
• 2 tsps marmite
• 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
• salt
• pepper

Creamy polenta topping:

• 200g polenta
• 600ml vegetable stock
• 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
• 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• salt

Preparation method

  1. Cover the lentils in plenty of cold water (approximately 1litre/35fl oz) and bring to the boil with the tea. Leave to simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until al dente.
  2. Drain the lentils, but save 200ml/7fl oz of the cooking liquid.
  3. Meanwhile, peel and finely chop the onions. Finely chop the tomatoes. Roughly chop the mushrooms. Peel and cube the carrot into small dice.
  4. Add the oil to a large frying pan and add the carrots, tomatoes, paprika and onion. Fry gently until the onion is translucent (takes about 10 minutes).
  5. Add the cooked lentils with the 200ml/7fl oz of the lentil cooking liquid, mushrooms, tomato paste and marmite. Stir until the marmite and tomato paste has dissolved. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Take off the heat and cover while making the polenta.
  6. To make the polenta, bring the vegetable stock and herbs to a boil.
  7. Measure out the polenta and oil.
  8. When the stock is boiling, add the polenta in a slow stream. Stir until the mixture thickens and bubbles, which only takes a couple of minutes. Take off the heat and taste for seasoning. Pour the filling into a deep baking dish (26cmx20cm/10inx8in) and spread on top of the pie. Optional: use a fork to make lines on the top, this helps get some extra crispiness.
  9. Place under a preheated grill for five minutes, or until the top crisps up.