Easy and delicious meat-free cottage pie recipe

Cottage pie is one of my favourite comfort food recipes. Perfect as a mid-week meal as well as for cosy weekends – and it’s particularly good eaten from a bowl whilst binge-watching Netflix.

Although I’m by no means a vegetarian, I try to limit eating meat to special occasions or when the meat is the main event, like a roast lamb. It seems almost a waste to use meat when it’s going to be overpowered by seasoning anyway! I keep quorn mince in the freezer which comes in handy for things like shepherds pie, bolognese and chilli con carne. The quorn ‘meat’ surprisingly has a convincing and satisfying texture, it’s cheaper than real meat, arguably healthier too, and you won’t even notice the difference. In fact, I made this recipe for my boyfriend recently and he had no idea it was vegetarian.

You will need:

  • 1 bag of Quorn mince
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped (or buy a bag of chopped veg)
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 3 leeks, washed, trimmed and chopped
  • 400ml vegetable stock
  • 1 jar or can of passata / tomato sauce
  • 700g maris piper potatoes (or similar), peeled and quartered
  • 50g butter
  • Splash of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan over a low heat and gently fry the leeks until they have wilted, and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add the quartered potatoes (this makes them cook faster). Cook them until you can easily stick a knife or fork into them (usually around 15 minutes), then drain the potatoes, return them to the pan and start mashing them. Add the butter (50g), and a splash of milk to the pan, then add the wilted leeks and mash together. Add more butter and milk if you like it creamier!

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4. Now heat a splash of olive oil in a deep pan over a medium heat on the hob, add your chopped onions and cook them for a few minutes, then add your chopped carrots (I used a cheat’s bag of chopped carrots and parsnip mixed together, which works fine too).

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5. Add the quorn mince and let it all cook together for a few minutes, then add some vegetable stock and some tomato sauce. Reduce the heat and let it simmer.

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6. Once it has reduced, add the frozen peas, and season with salt, pepper, soy sauce and Worcestershire Sauce if you have it.

7. Pour the sauce into an ovenproof dish, and topped with the mashed potato.

8. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the top is golden!

9. Serve with Branston pickle (yes, really) or chutney!

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