It's the Christmas season again! I love this time of the year! If you're calendar looks anything like ours does it's PACKED with holiday parties. We are soo blessed with amazing friends who like to host parties and get together to celebrate the season. The only problem with this is that there is always sooo much food at these things. While trying to decide what to have for dinner on Monday after one of these party filled weekends, I really felt like we needed a seriously low calorie, and healthy dinner. The problem is it is FREEZING outside and the only thing that sounded good to me was some serious comfort food or soup. We already had soup in our fridge from a couple of days ago, so comfort food it was.
I made Raymond a version of Shepard's pie last year that he really loved, so I thought I would make it for him again...except I was of course going to change it up completely and try something different. The version I usually make is topped with a combination of russet and sweet potatoes. We had some butternut squash that I really wanted to use up, so I decided I would try out a butternut squash and sweet potato combination. After our huge caloric weekend I had a hard time picking any kind of meat that sounded good, plus I wasn't exactly sure what we had on hand, so I settled on lentils. This turned out so good and we both decided this recipe should definitely be on the repeat list. I loved the flavor of the dish and the texture was such a great blend that it still felt like a comforting and hearty meal, just without a lot of excess fat and calories.
Bottom of pie:
4 cups beef broth
1 cup dry lentils
1/2 cup barley
1/2 large onion
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3/4 cup fresh or frozen green beans
3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn
3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp water
1 1/4 lbs butternut squash (half a large or one small)
1 1/4 lbs sweet potatoes (about 3 small or 2 medium)
1/2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs milk
1 Tbs fresh sage, chopped
1/4 tsp white pepper
Parmesan Cheese (Optional)
Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
Cut the sweet potato and butternut squash and place on a baking sheet. I would normally cube the sweet potatoes and butternut squash to cut down on the roasting time, but if you've ever tried to cut butternut squash you will understand when I say I didn't cube the squash because my husband wasn't home to help. I was proud that I didn't loose any fingers cutting it in half so I just went with that and threw it on the baking sheet.
Roast the sweet potatoes and butternut squash until soft, about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile in a large saucepan over medium low heat, add the broth, lentils and barley. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the carrot, celery, onions, garlic, walnuts, corn, beans thyme, rosemary, and Cayenne pepper. Simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Note: you will not see corn here because I totally forgot to add it in. As we were eating it I missed the corn so I wrote it in because I just really think it belongs.
Combine cornstarch and water and stir into mixture. Simmer until thickened.
When sweet potatoes and butternut squash are finished, mash with a fork or potato masher. Add in butter, milk, sage, and white pepper and mix well.
Pour lentil mixture into a large oven save dish. Top with potato/squash mixture. If you would like you can sprinkle just a bit of Parmesan and breadcrumbs to give the top a nice crust.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
This may not be the prettiest dinner I have ever made, but the taste definately made up for it.
If you truly wanted to make this a vegetarian dish, substitute the beef broth for vegetable broth and add in one bay leaf. Don't forget to take out the bay leaf before you layer it in the casserole though. They never soften and are really bitter to bite into.
Nutritional Information: Makes about 6 servings. Calories - 335, Fat - 7.6g, Sodium - 600mg, Potassium - 1086mg, Total Carbohydrate - 52.8g, Dietary Fiber - 13.1g, Sugars - 7.6g, Protein - 14.6g