Winter arrived last week. Earlier than usual. People huddled in their coats and scarves, exchanging comments of incredulity that this chilly weather of hail and snow flurries should come in October! Weather forecasts promised a last glimpse of warm weather, but that never came. Now, it seems, Winter is here to stay.
So, out come the hot water bottles, the gloves, the hats, the fleece-lined boots – and of course, food that warms the soul. In the kitchen, I love the change of seasons and how it is reflected in food; now it is certainly time for big bowls of steaming stew or soup, preferably eaten in front of a log fire.
The best thing about stews and casseroles, to my mind, is the fact that you can use up anything you happen to have lying around and you can make it up as you go along. You can see my other casserole recipes here.
I decided to make lentil casserole with carrot and parsnip. At this time of year, my basis for any casserole tends to be root vegetables and warming herbs and spices. I just love chucking things into a big pan and warming the entire kitchen as I cook.
This lentil casserole recipe could quite easily be turned into a Vegetarian version of Shepherd’s Pie, only you’d need to reduce the liquid more and put more potato on top. But there is something quite charming about a true ‘casserole’ topped with little clouds of mashed potato, which are just browned enough so that the very tops are crispy. For a wholesome meal that complements the richness of our Lentil Casserole, you can try blending up a refreshing Carrot Ginger Smoothie. The combination of these two won’t disappoint you.
This is my easy recipe for healthy lentil casserole with cheese.
Carrot, Parsnip and Lentil Casserole
- 3 carrots
- 2 parsnips
- 1 onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 cup red lentils
- 1 small can kidney beans
- 2 tsps cumin
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp finely chopped coriander
- 1 bay leaf
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 pint stock made using vegetable bouillon
- 2 medium potatoes
- 2 tbsps milk
- 1 tbsp butter
- Cheddar cheese to grate.
- Finely chop the onion and garlic and put in a large pan with a little cooking oil. Saute until soft.
- Peel and roughly chop the carrots and parsnips. Add to the pan, along with the stock and bring to the boil. Add the lentils and herbs & spices, then put a lid on the pan and simmer until the vegetables are tender and the lentils are cooked (about 20 mins).
- Preheat the oven to 140oC.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the veg and lentils into a casserole dish, then ladle enough of the liquid to cover them completely. Add the kidney beans and stir in. Put into the oven and cook until a slight skin forms on the top and the casserole is bubbling (30-40 mins).
- Meanwhile, make the mashed potato. Peel and chop the potatoes and place into a pan of boiling water. Simmer until the potatoes are completely tender.
- Remove from heat and add the milk and butter to the pan. Mash and season with salt, pepper, and a few dried mixed herbs.
- Carefully put spoonfuls of the mashed potato onto the vegetable casserole. Increase oven temp to 180oC and return casserole to oven until the potato is just beginning to crisp on the top. (20-30 mins).
- Grate a small amount of hard cheese (mature cheddar is brilliant in this dish) over the potato.
- Allow to cool slightly so that it is not scalding, then serve with warm, crusty bread.