For me, there are no greater words in the English language than ‘cheesy’, ‘potato’ and ‘pie’ – especially when all used together. The word ‘lentil’ is perhaps a little less irresistible, but all of the ingredients in this cheesy potato and lentil pie have an important role to play – the lentils give the pie some nutrition, and help to turn it into a filling meal with plenty of protein. Don’t get me wrong, it still makes for a pretty indulgent dinner, but the veggies and lentils in this pie definitely help to make it feel a bit more acceptable as a main course.
I don’t tend to make a pie very often – I usually think it’ll be a bit more labour-intensive than I would like. But actually, this cheesy potato and lentil pie only takes about 30 minutes to prepare (plus baking time), which I think is pretty good when you’re creating something this spectacular.
The pie starts with a shortcrust pastry base – I used shop-bought pastry as usual, because I’m lazy, and I think the shop-bought stuff is pretty brilliant. Why do the hard bit myself when someone else can do it much better than I could?
The next layer is a cheesy lentil mixture, with a few different veggies mixed in too. I wanted to add some goodness to the pie without making it feel veggie-heavy – I wanted it to still feel like quite a naughty dish. Some grated carrot cooks right into the lentils (you can hardly even tell it’s there), and a few frozen peas and a bit of frozen sweetcorn (use fresh if you prefer!) add nutrition without any effort. I love frozen veg for convenience!
Finally, the cheesy lentil layer is topped with a layer of thinly sliced potatoes, and a little more cheese (why not?).
I used Cornish new potatoes, which are available in Tesco from mid-June until the end of July. It’s always nice to use seasonal produce when possible, and although you might think of potatoes as being available year-round, the seasonal varieties do differ a little from month to month. Since Cornish new potatoes are grown by the sea, they have a natural saltiness, and they’re soft and fluffy inside – just as a good potato should be.
Cornish new potatoes are also the first UK mainland crop of the year, so their arrival means that summer is officially here (hooray! I knew I count always count on potatoes to cheer me up). This cheesy potato and lentil pie would make a great summery dinner with a big salad and some other seasonal veggies.
What’s your favourite summery dinner? Do you try to stick to seasonal veggies where possible? Make sure you grab a bag of Cornish new potatoes when you spot them over the next month or so – they’re so easy to prepare, and even if you’ve not got time to make my cheesy potato and lentil pie, they make for a really quick and tasty side dish.
- 300 g ready-rolled shortcrust pastry (enough to line a 9-inch round tin or dish)
- 130 g dried red lentils (~ 2/3 cup)
- Vegetable stock or water, for boiling
- 2 medium carrots, grated
- 50 g frozen peas (~ 1/3 cup)
- 60 g frozen sweetcorn kernels (~ 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme or oregano
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- Black pepper
- 1 egg
- 125 g cheddar cheese, grated (~ 1 1/3 cups when grated)
- 3 Cornish new potatoes, thinly sliced
Lightly grease a 9-inch springform cake tin or pie dish. Lay the sheet of pastry over the top of the tin, and gently ease it down into the corners. Don’t worry if you end up with a few small tears - just patch them up with more pastry. Allow the pastry to rise up the side of the tin by about 2-3 inches, and cut away any excess. Prick the base of the pastry a few times with a fork, and blind bake at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 20 minutes, until just turning golden.
While the pastry is baking, add the red lentils to a saucepan with plenty of water or vegetable stock. Boil for around 15 minutes, until tender, then drain.
Add the cooked lentils to a large mixing bowl, along with the grated carrot, frozen peas and frozen sweetcorn (you can defrost your frozen vegetables first if you prefer - I added mine frozen). Also add the dried thyme or oregano, dijon mustard, and plenty of black pepper, and mix well to combine.
Add the egg and most of the grated cheddar to the bowl (just hold back a little cheese for topping), and mix again thoroughly.
When the pastry is starting to turn golden, remove it from the oven. If it has puffed up at all, just press it back down with the back of a spoon. Add the cheesy lentil mixture to the pie base, and top with the thinly sliced Cornish new potatoes. Finish with the last of the grated cheese and a bit more black pepper, and return to the oven for a further 30-40 minutes, until firm and golden brown.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for 1/6 of the pie.