Maddie’s mama’s lentil Bolognaise mash-top pie…
When I was a child, my mum made a point of cooking mainly vegetarian food for my sister and me as she felt that a vegetable-based diet would be healthier for us than eating lots of meat. It’s very rare that I cook with meat at home as I tend to agree with my mum’s opinion that meat isn’t necessarily the healthiest or most ethical option. Instead, I tend to use lots of protein-rich pulses and whole grains like brown rice in an attempt to pack as many vitamins into each meal as possible. While I’m not by any means a vegetarian, I find that I don’t enjoy eating meat as much as some of my friends and members of my extended family, probably because I didn’t eat much of it when I was little.
Of all the yummy dishes that my mum used to make, her lentil Bolognaise was always my favourite and remains something I love to eat to this day. Most of the time she’d serve it with spaghetti, but my favourite way to have it was always as a mash-top pie with lashings of grated cheese. While I don’t tend to eat it very often anymore, I do like to make it at least once a year, usually around late autumn when the weather starts to turn. Packed with loads of veg, my mum’s lentil Bolognaise is healthy and nutritious as well as comforting, easy to make and very tasty, and something I hope to share with my own children one day.
Fire up the oven for this five-a-day pie
1 red onion (diced)
1 cup red split lentils
400g tinned tomatoes
100g tinned sweetcorn
1 carrot (diced)
1 courgette (diced)
A generous squeeze of tomato purée
1 garlic clove (crushed)
1 bay leaf
1/2 bunch fresh thyme (leaves only)
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 pinch brown sugar
Grated Cheddar, salt and ground black pepper to taste
For the mash
6 large baking potatoes
1 large knob unsalted butter
1. The first thing to do is rinse the lentils under cold water and then bring them to the boil in a saucepan. It’s very important not to add any salt at this stage as it will prevent the lentils from softening. Next, heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onion, garlic, carrot, courgette and bay leaf, adding a large pinch of salt to release the juices.
2. When the onion has completely softened (after around 10 minutes), add the tomato purée and continue to cook for a minute or so before stirring in the tinned tomatoes with the thyme and the sugar. When combined, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for around ten minutes, or until the tomatoes have softened. While you’re waiting, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the potatoes until soft. When done, drain and leave to cool for at least five minutes before mashing. When ready, add the butter and use a masher to blend until smooth.
3. When the tomatoes have cooked down to a sauce-like consistency, turn off the heat and stir through the cooked and drained lentils, adding the sweetcorn along with some salt and pepper to taste, and then pour the mixture into a medium-sized ovenproof dish. Cover the lentil Bolognaise with mashed potato, using a fork to evenly distribute, and then finish with a sprinkling of cheese. Grill until golden brown and serve with steamed broccoli or buttered kale.
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