Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

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Come autumn, I’m usually longing for some hot comfort foods for the chillier evenings. Although temperatures are above average for this time of year, I was still determined to make this hearty shepherd’s pie.

It has taken me years to overcome the childhood memories of shepherd’s pies filled with stodgy mince and salty gravy. I therefore decided to pack mine out with delicious veggies and added tomatoes to contrast with the sweetness of the potatoes.

INGREDIENTS (4-5 portions)
•6 sweet potatoes, peeled
•A knob of vegan butter
•100ml soya cream (I use Alpro, available in most large supermarkets)
•1 tsp vegan mayonnaise (I got mine from the ‘Free From’ section in Sainsbury’s)
•1 tbsp olive oil
•1 carrot, peeled and chopped into small cubes
•100g red lentils
•1 onion finely chopped
•3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
•1 tsp black pepper
•The leaves from 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
•1 red pepper, finely chopped
•200g chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced
•1 portobello mushroom, sliced
•1/2 can of kidney beans, drained
•1 can chopped tomatoes
•200ml veg stock
•1tsp balsamic vinegar
•A dash of red wine
•3 tbsps breadcrumbs
•A few sprigs of fresh rosemary

Method
1) Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes until soft. Drain and return to to the pan. Roughly mash, before stirring in the cream, butter and mayonnaise. Mix with a blender until you have a smooth, lump-free consistency. Set aside.
2) Pre-heat the oven to 180c. Boil the carrots and lentils for 10 minutes until they begin to soften. Heat the oil in the pan and sauté the garlic, onion, thyme and black pepper for 2 minutes. Add the red pepper and stir for another 5 minutes.
3) Add the mushrooms in batches and cook until softened. Stir in the beans, carrots, lentils and tomatoes, shortly followed by the stock, wine and balsamic vinegar. Keep on a low heat for a further 10 minutes before pouring into an oven proof Pyrex dish.
4) Spoon the mashed potatoes on top, flattening down with the back of a spoon. Use a fork to create a criss-cross pattern on top. Cover with the breadcrumbs and add a few sprigs of rosemary on top.

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5) Place in the oven for 40 minutes, until it’s all bubbling and golden and leave to stand.

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I served this up with broccoli and curly kale, making the entire meal packed with vitamins and goodness. I just reheated a portion for dinner tonight and it was even better the next day; the flavours and juices had set perfectly. This is definitely one of my proudest recipes!

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The Reliance, Old Street

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My boyfriend and I were having some post-work drinks around Hoxton last week and decided to head somewhere to eat. Much to my dismay, he had a craving for “a pub burger”, so I assumed that wherever we ended up, my choices of vegetarian food would be limited. We headed to the Reliance near Old Street as it has the added attraction of a great jukebox selection. Vegetarian mains were limited so I opted for the Greek Mezze platter for two…just for me!I think the picture speaks for itself; stuffed vine leaves, hummus, tzatzi, olives…sensational! So if you’re in the area, I’d definitely recommend visiting The Reliance!

http://www.thereliancepub.co.uk/