Plastic Free July – Lentil Shepherd’s Pie Skins – By Sarah Dunkerton

40% of all of the plastic used in the UK is for packaging. This figure includes the mass food packaging plastic which fills our supermarket shelves. Sadly, 2.4 million tonnes of packaging waste happen each year in the UK. Of this figure, 1.7 million tonnes of this plastic waste occur at household levels!

In response to this huge single-use plastic waste, the movement Plastic Free July has emerged! MetMUnch has decided to partner with this goal for July and provide practical recipe ideas which generate little to no waste (especially plastic waste!).

The meal I decided to make is a lentil shepherd’s pie, served in its skin! This meal can be made without any plastic packaging. I choose loose onions, carrots and potatoes from the supermarket and used reusable produce bags (link below) to carry them!

I have also recently sought out my local zero-waste store and have been SO impressed by the huge variety (shampoo, tealeaves, pasta, rice, you name it…)! This is where I found the lentil I needed, which I brought home in a glass storage jar. Herbs and spices can also be found in glass not plastic packaging, and stock cubes wrapped in metal and not plastic.

Not only is this dish easy and delicious, it’s generated such little total waste and NO plastic waste!

Link for Reusable Produce Bags: https://www.lakeland.co.uk/73241/Carrinet-Veggio-Reusable-Fruit-and-Veg-Bags-Pack-of-5

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie Skins

(Serves 4)

Here’s what you need:

Ingredients:

(6, herbs optional!)

  • 2 Large Baking Potatoes
  • 2 Carrots
  • 2 Vegetable Stock Cubes
  • 100g Red Lentils
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 tbsp. Tomato Puree
  • Herbs (Optional! Salt / Pepper, 3 Bay Leaves, Oregano)

Equipment

  • 1 Chopping Board
  • 1 Sharp Knife
  • 1 Large Saucepan (and lid!)
  • 1 Measuring Jug
  • 1 Large Frying Pan (and lid if have)
  • 1 Spatula
  • 1 Fork
  • 1 Potato Masher
  • 1 Large Bowl
  • 1 Metal Spoon
  • 1 Reusable Piping Bag and Nozzle (optional)
  • 1 Baking Tray

Method:

Prepare the Potato and Mash Topping

1. Prick each potato with a fork (around 6 times each) and microwave on a high heat for 5 minutes. Turn each potato over and microwave again for a further five minutes. (Microwave for another few minutes if still hard!)

If you’d prefer, you can cook these potatoes in the oven for an hour at 190*C and prepare the lentil filling while you wait.

2. Wait five minutes for the potatoes to cool down, then cut them in half. Scoop out the filling, leaving 0.5cm of skin, using a spoon and place it into the mixing bowl.

3. Add a few spoons of water into the scooped potato and season if you wish! Mash this mixture until smooth and add more water if you need!

4. If you wish to pipe the potato topping, scoop the potato mix into a reusable piping bag with a large star nozzle! If not, the potato can just be spooned on!

Prepare the Lentil Filling

1. Put 100g of red lentils into a large saucepan and top with 500ml of water and a vegetable stock cube. Place this pan onto a medium heat and boil for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat down and let the lentils simmer for 15 minutes until they are soft but still intact. Stir occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking to the base of the pan!

2. Meanwhile, cut the onion and carrots into small pieces. Leave the carrot skin on to increase the fibre content and lower food waste! Transfer the vegetables into a frying pan and top with enough water to cover the vegetables. Put the frying pan lid on and leave the vegetables to soften for 5/10 minutes on a low heat.

3. When the carrot and onion have softened, stir in any herbs you wish and season!

4. Add the cooked lentils into the frying pan, as well as 200ml of vegetable stock.

5. Stir the mixture and leave it on a medium heat for 10 minutes, until it becomes less liquid.

6. Remove the pan from the heat and take out any bay leaves you might have added! Stir in the tomato puree.

Assemble the Lentil Shepherd’s Pie!

1. Spoon enough of the lentil mix into each empty potato skin until they are full!

2. Top with the mashed potato! Either pipe it on or spoon it on and smooth it out.

Transfer to a pre-heated oven set to 180*C for 10/15 minutes until the potato topping is browned and enjoy!

Top Tip!

– If you have an open bottle of red wine, add a splosh into the lentil mix for a deeper flavour profile!

For more recipe ideas from MetMUnch go to www.metmunch.com/cook and follow us on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.