Gardener’s Pie

It’s still considered part of the New Year and I’m sure there are still some that are succeeding in their goals for 2019. I haven’t intentionally exercised in several weeks, but the warm spell that we’ve had after the winter vortex has made all of us clamor for the outdoors. For us, that means hikes, long walks, and park visits.

We decided on a picnic lunch and this Gardener’s Pie (my vegetarian take on a Shepherd’s Pie) was a perfect take-along. We will often pack a padded tablecloth and dishware to keep in the trunk for most of the spring and summer for these kinds of pop-up events. There are several beautiful parks in Albemarle County that have covered pavillions for a really enjoyable lunch after a bit of outdoor activity.

I decided on lentils and mushrooms to replace the beef and lamb mixture that is traditional in the classic variety, and I also thought that it might help for flavor if cream and butter were a part of the base. It’s only a touch and you’ll be happy with the result. If you want to make this vegan, skip the cream and use vegan butter, but add to the amount in the recipe by about a tablespoon. I would also add a little of Better Than Chicken stock paste for extra flavor, whether you use cream or not.

Add 3 tablespoons of butter to a skillet and add the sage over medium-low heat. Fry until the sage crisps but don’t allow it to burn or brown. Remove the sage onto a plate and set aside.

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into a pot of cold water. Boil the potatoes until they are soft, then mash or use a handheld mixer with a tablespoon butter and 1/3 of the sage, reserving the prettiest leaves for the top. Add some of the cooking water or warm broth to thin out the potatoes until they are the consistency you want.

Leave the butter in the pan and add a couple teaspoons of olive oil-this increases the temperature that the oil will start to burn-and add the onions, celery, and carrots, then season with salt and pepper. Saute for about three minutes and add the garlic. 30 seconds or so later, add the mushrooms, then salt and pepper well and let it fry for another 5 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften. Keep the veggies moving and don’t let them brown.

Add the frozen peas and lentils and the chicken broth (or stock paste and water). Season with salt and pepper again. Add parsley and the last 1/3 of the sage and let the mixture low boil for about three minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cream, if using, and a tablespoon of butter. Stir well and add to a buttered casserole dish.

Spoon the sweet potatoes over the lentil mixture and arrange the reserved sage leaves on top. Bake for roughly 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

We paired this with a garden salad, a wedge of cheese and a loaf of bread but I’m curious what you would pair with it. Let me know in the comments below or send me a message!

Gardener’s Pie

Serves 6-8

For the sage butter:
1 small bunch sage
3 tablespoons salted butter

For the topping:
3 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon butter
water, to boil
salt, pepper, to taste

For the inside:
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
6 medium-sized mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons parsley
1/2 cup French green lentils, washed and drained
1 1/4 cup broth or water
1/2 cup cream
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add 3 tablespoons of butter to a skillet and add the sage over medium-low heat. Fry until the sage crisps but don’t allow it to burn or brown. Remove the sage onto a plate and set aside.

Boil the sweet potatoes until they are soft, then mash or use a handheld mixer with a tablespoon butter and 1/3 of the sage, reserving the prettiest leaves for the top. Add some of the cooking water or warm broth to thin out the potatoes until they are the consistency you want.

Leave the butter in the pan and add a couple teaspoons of olive oil, then add the onions, celery, and carrots, then season with salt and pepper. Saute for about three minutes and add the garlic. 30 seconds or so later, add the mushrooms, then salt and pepper well and let it fry for another 5 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften. Keep the veggies moving and don’t let them brown.

Add the frozen peas and lentils and the chicken broth (or stock paste and water). Season with salt and pepper again. Add parsley and the last 1/3 of the sage and let the mixture low boil for about three minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cream, if using, and a tablespoon of butter. Stir well and add to a buttered casserole dish.

Spoon the sweet potatoes over the lentil mixture and arrange the reserved sage leaves on top. Bake for roughly 25 minutes.