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Because I haven’t had time to write a ‘real’ post this week (or at least the post that I had planned on writing), I am going to share another delicious vegetarian recipe. This one is taken from Canadian Living: The Vegetarian Collection: Creative Meat-Free Dishes That Nourish and Inspire.

If you are looking for a great vegetarian cook book, I highly recommend this one. It’s filled with a nice balance of quick comfort food recipes and more elaborate time consuming recipes and it’s also limited in the amount of meals that contain mushrooms as a key ingredient (which is a major bonus if you are a mushroom hater like me). The photographs of the food are full paged and plentiful, and each recipe comes with its own nutritional analysis (including things such as total calories, and iron, fiber, and protein counts).

Vegetable Lentil Gardener’s Pie

Fair warning: This recipe takes quite a while to slap together. It is definitely not something you want to start cooking at 8 pm after a long day of work when you are so hungry that you have the ‘crack head’ shakes, because (no joke) it will break you.  You will end up deciding that eating a whole box of gobstoppers for dinner while watching the cooking channel is a fair compromise for your naïve, but already forgotten about, cooking plans. I am not saying this because it is something I did, but I may have seriously considered it. If I didn’t have the ninja like assistance of my partner (a.k.a. my kitchen grunt), I may not have gotten through the process.

I recommend that you have the potatoes peeled and cut before you start cooking. In fact, it might even be something you should do the night before. If you were really into cutting time out of the process you could even dice up your onions, celery and carrots the night before too. OR … you could run around frantically yelling orders at your partner, while deftly criticizing his/her dicing skills … like I did!

“What the HELL are you doing? Alvin Law could dice those carrots better than you!” (It’s funny, because he has no arms…)

  I (we) only made one change to the recipe (we added cayenne pepper, because we add it to almost everything), but if I were to make it again I would most definitely add a little more wine or vegetable stock during the lentil cooking process. My lentils were not quite soft enough once the process was over – I think it’s because the wine was added too quickly and ‘cooked off’ before the lentils could soak it up. Either that or I just wasn’t patient enough. I also would probably add corn, since corn is delicious in everything. It seems like a fairly forgiving recipe, so feel free to add or substitute any ingredients that seem like a good idea to you at the time.

I guess I should also point out that I used a big pot instead of the ‘dutch oven’ that this recipe calls for, because the only type of dutch oven I am familiar with shouldn’t be anywhere near food (HAR! HAR!). Be prepared though, this makes a large amount of food – probably enough to serve 12. You may want to make sure you have enough space in your freezer, or the appetite of 12 hungry people, before you start cooking. I guess you could probably half the recipe, if you are the type of person who gives up easily.

The recipe:

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced (I used 2)
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cup dried lentils of your choice, rinsed and drained (I used green)
1 340g package of Yves Veggie Ground Round
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano (I also added 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper)
1 -796 mL can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup of wine
2/3 cup of vege broth
2 zucchini, diced
4 russet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
4 yams (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
1/3 cup of milk
3 tablespoons butter/margarine
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 green onions

  • In Dutch oven heat the oil over medium heat; fry diced onions, celery, carrot and garlic.  Cook until softened, about 6 minutes.
  • Stir in lentils, cumin, oregano (with optional cayenne pepper), soy protein, and half each of the salt and pepper; cook for 3 minutes
  • Stir in tomatoes, wine and vege broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes – stirring occassionally.
  • Add the zucchini; cook, covered and stirring often, until thickened and lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
  • While the mixture is cooking peel and cut potatoes and yams. Add the potatoes and yams to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°C
  • Drain the potatoes and yams and rinse the pot.  Return the potatoes and yams to the pot and mash with milk, butter, and remaining salt and pepper.
  • Add 1/2 cup of grated cheese to the potato-yam mash
  • Scoop lentil mixture into a 9 x 13 baking dish and spread the potato-yam mash on top.  Top with the remaining cheese and green onions and bake at 375°C until bubbly, about 30 minutes


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