Shepherdless Pie
1 hr 10 min
1 hr 10 min
4 to 6 servings
1 hr 10 min
1 hr 10 min
4 to 6 servings


  • 1 cup dried lentils (Puy or beluga are the best)
  • 2 Lapsang Souchong tea bags
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 8 mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons Marmite brand spread
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Creamy Polenta Topping:
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 heaped cup instant polenta


Special equipment: Deep baking dish measuring 10 x 8 inches

Place the lentils and tea bags in a medium saucepan. Cover the lentils with about 1 quart (4 cups) cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer the lentils and tea bags until the lentils are al dente, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the tea bags and drain the lentils, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, tomatoes and paprika. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the cooked lentils with 1 cup of the lentil cooking liquid, tomato paste and Marmite. Stir until the Marmite and tomato paste have dissolved and cook for 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Take off the heat and cover while making the polenta.

For the creamy polenta topping: In a large saucepan, bring the stock, thyme and parsley to a boil. When the stock is boiling, add the polenta in a slow stream, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon or large balloon whisk to prevent lumps. Stir or whisk until the mixture thickens and bubbles, which only takes a couple of minutes. (If you feel like it is thickening too quickly, remove it from the heat and beat vigorously.) Stir in the oil and take the pan off the heat. Season with salt.

Pour the lentil filling into a deep flameproof baking dish measuring about 10 x 8 inches. Spread the hot polenta on the top.

Preheat the broiler. Use a fork to make lines on the top of the pie; this helps get some extra crispiness. Place the baking dish under the broiler about 6 inches from the heat source and broil until the top crisps up, 5 to 10 minutes. 

Cook's Note

The filling can be made a couple of days in advance or frozen in an airtight container; reheat before using. It¿s best to make the polenta just before serving as it will harden and no longer be creamy if left to sit for a long time. If you¿re short on time you can use already cooked lentils, although I always find they¿re a little too mushy.

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