Cheesy pumpkin lentil pot pies
Can you believe that until this week I’d never cooked with pumpkin before? It’s pretty tricky to find the tinned, puréed stuff here in the UK, and considering how difficult it is for my weak little arms to chop up a butternut squash, I didn’t think I stood much chance against an enormous pumpkin (also the reason I never eat watermelon). However, as a strike of fate, I found a couple of tins of it in the supermarket right as I was beginning to crave all the autumnal pumpkin recipes that I’d seen plastered across the web. Hence: pumpkin pot pies. Pumpkin lentil pot pies, actually. Cheesy ones!
I’ll be honest, when I first opened the tin of pumpkin, I was far from convinced – and after hearing great things about how obsessed American bloggers are with pumpkin, I was a little disappointed. It didn’t exactly taste good eaten straight from the tin – cold, mushy and just so vegetabley. But as soon as I started adding some seasonings and other ingredients, and warmed it through, I found that the pumpkin was a great addition, and it definitely added to the festive feel of these little pies. I’m glad I persevered!
I don’t know about where you are, but here, it literally hasn’t stopped raining all day. It’s been miserable. In fact today was the day that we finally gave in and turned the central heating on for the first time in months (hence why I am currently sat on the radiator). We usually try to wait until November before we turn it on, but it’s been so chilly today that we couldn’t resist. And this warming lunch was the perfect accompaniment! Served with a side of steamed broccoli, and drizzled (or, if I’m honest, drenched) in gravy, it was almost enough to make me appreciate the autumnal weather. Almost.
(I guess I’ve never had to type the word pumpkin much before because I keep trying to type ‘pumking’. Thank goodness for spellcheck.)
- 60g red lentils
- 250ml vegetable stock
- Black pepper
- 1/2tsp dried thyme or sage
- 3tbsp (heaped) pumpkin purée
- 30g vegetarian parmesan-style cheese, finely grated
- 2tbsp plain flour
- 100g shortcrust pastry (or puff pastry, if you prefer)
- 1tbsp milk
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (Gas Mark 6 / 400°F).
- Combine the lentils and vegetable stock, and simmer gently until the lentils are quite soft and not much liquid remains (remember, you want it to be absorbed, not evaporated, so don’t let it bubble too furiously). When the liquid has nearly all been absorbed, make sure you stir constantly to stop the lentils from sticking to the pan.
- Season with black pepper and add the dried thyme, pumpkin purée and grated parmesan, and mix well until the cheese has melted. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Using a little flour to stop it sticking, roll out the pastry until it’s around 3mm thick.
- Distribute the lentil mixture into two fairly large ramekins (or one large dish, if you prefer), and drape the pastry over the top. Press it down firmly around the edge of the ramekins. I cut the excess pastry off now, because I like the fact that as the pastry shrinks, it settles down right on top of the filling. However if you prefer, you can leave a little excess to create a rustic look.
- Cut a couple of small slits in each piece of pastry, and brush with milk.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.