Now that my morning commute consists of rolling from my bed to the downstairs office, I’m missing one of my favorite things about the morning drive in, podcasts. I subscribe to about a zillion of them and they’re the number one reason that no, I cannot take a photo of my dinner because I don’t have any more room.
The other day, as I was running errands around town, I caught up on one of my favorite foodie podcasts from Bon Appetit. I must have binge-listened to at least 10 episodes confirming my fears that not only could I spend my entire day talking about food, but listening to it as well. I think that’s the hallmark of really great food writing, if I’m driving to the store after hearing or reading about your dish, job well done.
So, as I tuned into BA’s Thanksgiving podcast two weeks after the actual holiday, I was smitten with the idea of homemade mashed potatoes. They talked about simmering the potatoes, placing them through a ricer and then gently stirring in hot cream and butter. Yes, yes, yes. Suddenly, I couldn’t imagine the idea of not eating mashed potatoes for dinner that night. Thankfully, I had also binge watched enough Food Network over the weekend to know that a vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie was also in my forecast.
The key to these incredibly light and fluffy mashed potatoes is a ricer or food mill. I own a ricer for my gnocchi-making afternoons, but I think it’s one of the easiest gadgets out there to produce the best mashed potatoes. Never again will you suffer from glue-like, lumpy mashers. After a quick run through the ricer, I literally just stir in milk and melted butter. This method is foolproof.
You know how I feel about casserole-y things topped with carbs. In that I love them. Since soup is one of my food groups, it’s only natural that topping a thick, stew-like base with carbs is my idea of the best meal ever. (Um, see also Tamale Pie, Vegetable Stew with Scallion Biscuits).
After reading this report on the myth of easy cooking, I know not to the the E word around lightly. But, for such a fancy looking dinner, this definitely borders on uncomplicated. If you can make soup and mashed potatoes, you can make this.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped leeks (can substitute white onion)
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 cup green (or brown) lentils
- 4 cups vegetable broth (I love Pacific Foods low-sodium broth)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 bundle fresh thyme
- 1 stem fresh rosemary
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1" pieces
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½-3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk (or other unsweetened flavor)
- ¼ cup dairy-free butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Heat the olive oil in a large wide pan (like a Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for 10 minutes until vegetables are soft and tender.
- Add in the garlic, lentils, vegetable broth, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low, cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes until lentils are tender. Stir every 5 minutes or so, making sure vegetables aren't sticking to the bottom of the pan. You may need to add more vegetable broth/water. Once lentils are cooked, whisk in the tomato paste.
- While the lentils are cooking, make the potatoes. Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover by 1-inch with water. Stir in the salt and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer potatoes until they are fork tender, about 15 minutes.
- Drain the water from the potatoes and pass them while they are still hot through a food mill or ricer.
- Place the potatoes back in the medium saucepan and stir in the milk and melted butter. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Remove the bay leaves, thyme bundle, rosemary and discard from the lentil mixture and stir in the peas.
- Preheat the broiler. Transfer the lentil mixture to a 9x13 baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the lentils in an even layer. Place the baking dish under the preheated broiler and broil until the potatoes are golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from oven, garnish with parsley and serve.