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As promised from week one, it’s not always about dining out. With pressing deadlines – and, let’s be honest, often increasing gaps between invoices being settled – we’re all aware of: a) the need to chain yourself to the desk from time to time, and b) the necessity of staying fed and in credit.

This Lentil Shepherd’s Pie recipe comes from Niamh Shields, perhaps better known as the founder of the multi-award-winning blog Eat Like A Girl, and is taken from her excellent first book, Comfort & Spice (Quadrille, £14.99). Niamh’s second book, Bacon, is due to be published in early 2019.

LENTIL SHEPHERD’S PIE

I love lentils and think they are much extremely underrated, and so I often reach for this shepherd’s pie recipe over a meaty version as a result. It’s a great sharing dish for veggie friends, served in the middle of a table with a big spoon for everyone to help themselves. It’s also perfect for winter months when wallets and constitutions are suffering.

Serves 6

For the lentils

1 carrot, quartered and finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely sliced
1 tbsp light oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
800ml vegetable stock
sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf (optional, but gives lovely fragrance)
250g green or Puy lentils
100g red lentils
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

For the mash

800g good mashing potatoes such as Maris Piper, peeled
2 tbsp cream or milk (depending on how indulgent you are feeling!)
1 tsp grainy mustard
50g cheese (soft goat’s cheese or grated Cheddar both work well)
a handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Sauté the carrot and celery in the oil over a low heat for 10 minutes, until starting to soften. Add the garlic for the final minute. Add the stock, thyme, bay leaf, if using, and lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Season to taste and leave to the side. Boil the potatoes until soft (a knife will go through easily but they won’t be too mushy). Mash with the cream or milk. Add the mustard, cheese and parsley and stir through. Put the lentils in a deep baking dish (about 20x20cm). Spread the mash on top and decorate with the tines of a fork so that you get ridges which will crisp nicely as it roasts. Roast for 15 minutes, or until nice and brown on top.

Comfort & Spice by Niamh Shields (Quadrille, £14.99)

Photography © Georgia Glynn Smith

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