This moroccan shepherds pie is a play on the traditional version. Here hearty green lentils become the backbone of a moroccan spiced braise that is nestled beneath sweet and earthy mashed sweet potato. Don't be fooled by the vegetarian tag either. This dish is very filling and satisfying, and would keep any meat eater happy.
For me, the tell tale sign of a successful vegetarian or vegan dish is the type of meal that a meat eater would eat and proclaim 'damn that was tasty and filling'. Too often than not vegan and vegetarian meals do not contain enough sustaining protein combined with fibre dense carbohydrates to really hit that satiety button that we look for from food, especially in the cooler months.
Now that it's finally cooler (Brisbane cooler, which is pretty much a Spring day in Melbourne right?), I know I'm starting to crave more warming and comforting meals. Food magazines have switched from bright summery colours with fresh looking salads and frozen desserts to earthy tones with braises and warm chocolate puddings. Everyone is dusting off their slow cookers and fantasising about braised lamb shanks. Of course, the meaty goodness has been sat aside here for the humble lentil, with the intention of mixing things up.
I'm as partial to braised meat dishes as the next person, but as it cools down its great to keep fresh and light produce alongside plant based foods (so abundant in our summer and spring diets) on our plates. Its easy to go from porridge to braise to soup back to braise without any thought of some fresh greens. I always get my clients to implement simple ideas such as adding handfuls of peppery rocket, baby spinach or freshly chopped herbs to the top of their braises and soups. Fresh sprouts such as mung beans, snow pea sprouts and alfalfa also do the trick. Another option is adding quality sauerkrauts and kimchi if you want to get uber trendy. Of course the nature of seasonal change means fluctuations in the type of food we eat, which helps the diversity of our gut bacteria thrive. If we eat the same thing day in and day out we tend to narrow the cultivation of abundant strains of our bacterial friends.
Secondly, its also a good idea to look at some plant based options for your braises. Instead of lamb, beef and chicken think about adding in some legumes for you weekly rotation. Legumes work really well in a slow cooker and can not only compliment a meat dish, but also make a dish on their own.
That brings us back full circle to this Moroccan shepherds pie. As always you can play around with this recipe as suited. Consider different legumes such as adkuki beans, borlotti beans and chickpeas for instance. Savoury recipes are quite easy to chop and change, unlike baking they are quite forgiving for a bit of this and a little bit extra of that. Lastly, when making this Moroccan shepherds pie you may choose to adapt it slightly by lining the pots first with pastry to give a traditional 'pie' finish to the dish for a truly hearty finish. xx
Sauté garlic, carrot, celery and onion till transparent in olive oil. Add another lug of olive oil with the eggplant and sweat down. Add dried spices and stir through till fragrant.
Now add in tomato paste and stir through well for 3-4 minutes. If a slight crust develops on the bottom of the saucepan this is fine. Add stock and lentils and bring to boil and then turn to a simmer. Stir through parsley & salt and pepper. Simmer for ½ hour with lid on, stirring frequently. Once lentils are softened, turn off heat and set aside.
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add sweet potato. Boil till tender then mash well with nuttelex, salt and pepper. Spoon lentil mixture into individual serving pots. Top the lentil mixture with the mashed sweet potato and finish with a small dollop of nuttelex. Bake in a moderate oven 180c for 30 minutes until warmed through and sweet potato tops are slightly browned.