shepherdess pie

shepherdess pie

This hearty, proteinaceous and wholesome dish has good measures of secret ingredients. Sweet, salty and tangy sundried tomatoes and oregano  bring Mediterranean warmth and digestibility to earthy green lentils and grounding sweet potato. Celery and carrots, organic for the best taste, bring sweetness. You could use ‘normal’ potatoes as is usual in this dish. But as my friend Rachel says, a potato is just a ball of sugar. The carbohydrate in sweet potatoes is inulin, not starch, and this has a low glycaemic index, meaning it gives slow energy release so supporting an even metabolism. Inulin also supports useful bacteria in the large instestine, but some people may suffer ‘stomach noises’ so if that’s the case for you after eating this dish, don’t necessarily blame the lentils.

20161204_11513420161204_120233 20161204_12083520161204_12234020161204_120622I’ve given indication of how to chop celery and carrot. Experienced cooks will understand this but for newer cooks the reason is that carrot is denser and so needs to be sliced smaller. This way you won’t end up with hard carrots and soggy celery but a pleasing consistent texture. I hope that makes sense.

Ingredients serves 5-6 in a dish 25 x 25 cm

  • 1kg sweet potatoes organic really is better – these get a whole load of pesticides
  • 250g green lentils  no need to soak overnight but rinse them in swirling water once or twice
  • 1 bayleaf
  • Half a head of celery, washed and chopped into 1cm square slices/pieces save the tender inner bits for eating raw in salad
  • 3 medium to large carrots, washed, scrubbed/peeled and cut into quarter slices about 0.5 cm thick
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 75g sundried tomatoes cut roughly into 1cm pieces scissors are best for this
  • 1 desert spoon dried oregano
  • A teaspoon or so of fresh ground pepper
  • A half to full teaspoon of seasalt
  • If you can get it, a good handful of chopped parsley ideally flat leaf French/Italian, curly also nice


  1. Cover lentils generously with water in a pan, add the bayleaf, and bring to the boil for ten minutes. Turn the heat down and lightly boil, pan half covered, for a further 25 minutes til you can easily squish one in your fingers but they haven’t disintegrated into soupy mush.
  2. Meanwhile prepare your veg as above. Saute them in a wide frying pan in the oil with the oregano until soft. Add the tomatoes and drained lentils. Add salt, pepper and parsley.
  3. Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks about 5cm cubed. Cover with water in a pan and bring to the boil, then allow to lightly boil for 15 minutes til knife goes in easily but before they disintegrate.
  4. Drain the sweet potatoes and mash with more olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Put the lentil mix in your dish, put the mash on top in an even layer. You can make furrows with a fork for crisping, sprinkle over the seeds and place in an oven for 45 minutes
  6. Serve with a fresh green salad and pomegranate molasses dressing for full taste.