Yesterday I gave myself a mission. I had a fresh batch of white beans at my disposal, and a whole lot of French lentils, and by the end of the day, I would make a marriage of the two. That was my dinner destiny. At the same time, I was feeling strangely nostalgic for Alanis Morissette, so I turned up the “Jagged Little Pill” cd and went to work, belting out every word of “You Outta Know.”
The result was a vegetarian white bean shepherd’s pie. I felt very clever replacing the mashed potato topping with mashed white beans. The beans easily blended into a creamy, potato-like consistency, and the flavor, although distinctly bean-y, paired well with the savory, smoky taste of the lentil filling. The spinach sprinkled throughout the lentils offered a nice color contrast (and extra nutrition) against the other ingredients, which was needed. I would definitely consider bringing this dish as a hearty vegetarian addition to a Thanksgiving buffet or potluck spread.
So, ready for this shepherd’s pie? If you’re still not sure, just take Alanis’ advice: “Swallow it down (what a jagged little pill)…it feels so good (swimming in your stomach)…”
Vegetarian White Bean Shepherd’s Pie
White Bean Layer
dry great northern beans — 2 cups (or 4 cups cooked)
apple cider vinegar — 1/2 tsp
salt — 1/4 tsp
pepper — 1/4 tsp
ghee — 1 tbsp (or butter or oil)
french lentils — 1 1/2 cup (or brown)
veggie broth — 3 cups
bay leaf — 1
onion — 1
garlic cloves — 3
thyme — 1 tsp
sage — 1 tsp
smoked paprika — 1 tsp
spinach — 2 cups chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1. Soak the beans overnight and cook the next day. Optional: add 1 tbsp of salt to the pot and let the beans soak in the salty water for at least 15 minutes. Drain and run them under the water to wash out excess salt. Store in the fridge until you use them.
2. Turn oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9” x 11” dish.
3. Add the beans to a food processor with the salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.
4. Pour the lentils into a pot, and add the broth and the bay leaf. Turn the heat to medium-high and when the lentils start to boil, lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook 30 minutes or until they are soft but not mushy. You might have to add water so that the lentils don’t dry out. Drain lentils and put them back in the pot. Take the bay leaf out.
5. Chop up the onion and saute with garlic at medium heat. Add thyme, sage, and smoked paprika and saute for a few more minutes. Add the chopped spinach and stir to combine the ingredients until the spinach is slightly wilted.
6. Add the veggies to the lentils and stir to combine. Shake salt and pepper into the pot to your desired taste. I probably added another ¼ tsp salt.
7. Spread the lentil-veggie mix evenly into the greased baking dish. Smear the mashed white beans on the surface until the lentils are totally covered.
8. Bake the dish for 20 minutes or until heated thoroughly. Enjoy!