Cottage pie

Anyone who had spent a winter in the UK will be familiar with cottage pie which is the ultimate comfort food. The history of cottage pie – also known as shepherd’s pie when made with minced lamb rather than beef – goes back to the 18th century and is thought to originate in the North of England among farming households around the time that the potato was becoming popular and relatively cheap. Often made with leftover meat, this was considered a frugal meal but also a satisfying one because of the combination of meat, potato and vegetables. This dish, like all my recipes, is a veggie version made with onion, celery, carrots and brown lentils cooked in a rich tomato sauce with stock and gravy granules and topped with a creamy potato and sweet potato mash.


For the filling

An onion, red or white
Three sticks of celery
Two large carrots
Two 400g tins of brown lentils
A 400g tin of tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
2 tablespoons gravy granules (optional)
A vegetable stock cube
2 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon dried rosemary

For the topping

Approx. 500g white potatoes
Approx. 500g sweet potatoes
4 tablespoons milk
60g butter
60g cheese
A sprig of parsley


Start by making the filling. Peel and dice the onion and carrots, dice the celery and mince the garlic cloves.

Fry the onion and garlic in a little olive oil for 3-4 minutes before adding the carrots and celery. Cook the vegetables for a further 5 minutes, before adding the lentils, tomatoes, tomato purée and soy sauce.

Stir together well and season with the dried sage and rosemary. At the point I also added a couple of tablespoons of Bisto gravel granules. There are very few things that I bring back from the UK but Bisto, along with Indian spices, is always one of them! If you can’t get hold of gravy granules then you can add some additional seasoning to make the sauce as rich as possible, for example an extra splash of soy sauce or a teaspoon of yeast extract. Simmer for 15 minutes and remove from the heat.

Next prepare the potatoes for the mash topping. Peel the potatoes, chop into chunks and boil in a pan of salted water for around 25 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Tip the potatoes into a colander to drain the water. Put the milk and butter in the pan and heat gentle then tip the potatoes back into the pan, turn off the heat and mash well. Season to taste.

Pour the filling into a baking dish and spoon on the mashed potatoes. Smooth with a fork and sprinkle with grated cheese and chopped parsley. Pop into a hot oven and cook for 20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the topping starts to turn a golden brown.

I served my cottage pie with steamed vegetables, some extra gravy and a touch of nostalgia!

One Comment Add yours

  1. tanvibytes says:

    This looks so delicious, your instructions were so clear! I really want to try this out! 🙂✨

    Liked by 2 people

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