Delicious vegetarian cottage pie

This is one my favourite winter recipes- easy to make, delicious and nutritious. And of course, completely vegetarian! It is also great for left overs. This recipe gives 4-6 portions and will fit any budget.

For the potato mash topping:

3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

a pinch of salt

a dollop of butter

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon milk

Bring water with a pinch of salt to boil on the stove. Once boiling, add the cubed potatoes and cook until soft. Decant the water, and the milk and butter to the potatoes and mash until fine. Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

For the cottage pie:

1 cup brown or black lentils, cooked

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 table spoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tin/sachet tomato paste

3/4 cup frozen peas

1 carrot, grated

lemon zest and juice of half a lemon

2 tablespoon fruit chutney

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Heat a dash of olive oil in a large pan. Once heated, sauté the onion and garlic for 5-8 minutes. Add the coriander and paprika and sauté for another minute. Add the lentils, carrot and peas and fry for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and 1/3 cup water and mix well. Allow to simmer for another 5-10 minutes before adding the chutney, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add a bit more water if the mixture is too dry. Allow to simmer for another minute or two and add salt and pepper to taste.

Grease a large baking dish. Spread the cottage pie mixture evenly and top with mashed potato. Grate some cheese over, if you want to. Bake for 30-40 minutes and 180 degrees Celsius or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm with a fresh salad on the side.

Mixed tomato, basil and pea garden salad

O, Woolworths, how I love thee! I went to Woolworths Food this past weekend in search of something (I can’t even remember what!) when I discovered boxes and boxes of the most beautiful, mixed tomatoes.  I love tomatoes-they form the base of most salads and sauces and are so versatile that they can be served up from anything like a sweet jam to a savoury sauce or tart.

You can thus imagine my joy at purchasing a box of vine-ripened tomatoes, tiger-stripe tomatoes and yellow, green and pink tomatoes, each perfectly shaped and flawless. I immediately decided to continue celebrating summer with a tomato, basil and pea salad, with fresh mixed lettuce and basil from my garden. The end result was delicious- the sweetness of the tomato was complimented very well with the fresh basil (one of my favourite combinations) and off set by the acidity of the balsamic vinegar.

This recipe gives 3-4 large portions:

1 cup frozen peas, blanched and cooled

a large bunch of lettuce such as Boston, Romaine, Green and Red leaf lettuce

1/4 cucumber, thinly sliced and halved

1 cup, quartered or halved Tiger stripe and vine ripened tomatoes, tossed in salt and allowed to rest for 15 minutes

5-6 leafs fresh basil, finely chopped

3-4 sprigs chives, finely chopped

Parmesan shavings for garnish

Basil vinaigrette:

50 ml extra virgin olive oil

50 ml good quality balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons, fresh, finely chopped basil

Arrange the lettuce in a large bowl and add the peas and cucumber.  Poor off any water that formed after tossing the tomatoes with salt, and add to the lettuce. Add the chives and basil, and toss lightly.  Add the parmesan shavings and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.