Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie topped with roasted Pumpkin mash

Happy Halloween everyone ! I hope you are not tired of pumpkins yet !  I just cannot get enough of these rather wonky looking vegetables.  What I love about pumpkins is that they are so versatile,  they make delicious soups, stews, desserts and a fun Halloween decoration.  Have you ever tried turning it into a Shepherd’s pie topping ? I did and it turned out pretty delicious, so if you have any left over roast or fresh pumpkin, give this one a try.

From a nutritional point of view you can already guess by their bright orange colour that pumpkins are an exceptionally  good source of alpha and beta carotenes, which the body   converts into cell protective vitamin A. It doesn’t stop there though, as we also find minerals and energy boosting B-vitamins in our spooky bright orange friends, in fact pumpkins are one of the best antioxidant veggies you can eat during the winter season. Add the mineral and omega oil rich pumpkin seeds into the mix and you have a double super food. What’s not to love about that ? Your skin and immune system will be rather grateful for being fed such power vegetable and seeds.

Lentils make the base for this dish and add some good fibre and protein as well as a bunch of minerals including iron.  A side of antioxidant rich dark green leafy vegetables will be loved by your friendly gut bacteria too and make this autumn super power supper complete.

So, let ‘s have a look at what you need and how it’s all done:

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with roasted Pumpkin mash- Serves 3-4

Ingredients ( ideally organic)
600g Hokkaido pumpkin (cut into small chunks)
4 tbsp of olive oil
4 shallots (finely chopped)
1 clove of garlic (finely chopped) -optional
300g carrots (peeled if not organic and sliced)
400g fresh or canned tomatoes ( chopped into chunks)
400ml vegetable stock
200ml red wine
1-2 tbsp tomato puree
1 bunch of fresh thyme ( 2-3 tbsp)
1 twig of fresh rosemary
400g pui or brown lentils (soaked over night)
200g broccoli florets
15g organic ghee
60g organic mature cheddar (grated)
Freshly ground pepper and sea salt or yarrow salt to taste

Side suggestions: 30-40g per person
Kale sautéed in ghee and garlic
Broccoli steamed and topped with extra virgin olive oil or ghee

1. Start roasting the pumpkin, simply wash well, remove the seeds, but do not throw them away, they can be roasted too; then chop the pumpkin into small chunks, place on a with baking paper lined baking tray, sprinkle with olive oil and a little sea or yarrow salt, making sure each piece is well coated with oil. This will prevent the pumpkin from going dry or burning. Bake in the oven at 160C for about 20-30 minutes. Check now and then, as the cooking time may vary. You want to roast it until it is well cooked and soft.

2.For roasting the pumpkin seeds, just remove any remaining pumpkin pulp, then add a little oil massaging it into the seeds, sprinkle with a little bit of sea or yarrow salt, before placing them on another with baking paper lined baking tray, roast until golden brown, leave to cool and keep in an air tight jar.

3. In the meantime, heat the oil in a large pot, add the chopped shallots and garlic and sauté at medium heat until golden, then add the carrots, tomatoes, red wine, vegetable stock, tomato puree, one to two tbsp of fresh thyme and the rosemary; simmer for about 5-10 minutes, before adding the pre-soaked and well rinsed lentils. Simmer for another 20 minutes, season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and set aside. The lentils still need to be al’ dente as they will continue to cook in the oven.

3. Once the pumpkin roasted and nice and soft, place in a bowl add ghee and mash until well combined, then carefully fold half the cheddar and 1/2 tbsp of fresh thyme into the mash, season to taste but careful with the salt as the cheddar is quite salty already. Next pour the lentil mix into a pie dish, leaving 2 cm to the top and spread the pumpkin mash on top until well covered. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and some thyme on top and bake at 180C for about 30-40 minutes.

Serve with steamed broccoli topped with a generous sprinkle of olive oil and a touch of yarrow salt or with kale sauteed in ghee and garlic.