Vegetarian Main Courses - Winter Vegetable Hot-Pot
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 sticks celery
- 2 large carrots
- ½ lb mushrooms
- any other vegetables if available*
- ½ pint vegetable stock
- 1 large tin (8 oz) chopped tomatoes**
- 1 tin (8 oz) green lentils, drained**
- mixed herbs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 lb potatoes
- grated cheese (can be omitted for a vegan dish)
In a large non-stick pan shallow fry the chopped onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft and lightly browned. Add the finely chopped carrots, mushrooms and celery and cook with the lid on, stirring occasionally until all vegetables are soft.
Add the vegetable stock, chopped tomatoes, green lentils, herbs and seasoning to taste and cook on a gentle heat for a further 20 minutes. Once cooked, the consistency of this mixture should be fairly thick, as it needs to be firm enough to support the cooked potatoes without them sinking. If you think it is still too runny you could cook it in the pan for a bit longer to evaporate some of the liquid, add a little flour to thicken, or simply pour a bit off.
While the vegetables are cooking, peel and slice the potatoes into approximately ½ cm thick slices, and boil for about 5-10 mins, until they are just cooked, and still firm. Drain, and leave to cool for a little while before assembling the dish.
Pour the vegetable mixture into a large casserole dish. Layer the cooked potatoes over the surface of the sauce, sprinkling the grated cheese in between and on top. If you choose to leave out the cheese for a vegan dish, put a few blobs of vegetable margarine over the potatoes to help them brown off. Bake in a medium to hot oven for half an hour. The cheese and potato topping should be golden brown and crispy when done, with the rich sauce bubbling up around the edges.
This hotpot is a nutritious and warming dinner on a cold winter's day, and is great served with some seasonal greens on the side, such as cabbage, kale or brussels sprouts.
* You could add any other vegetables that you need to use up – cabbage, swede, peppers, peas, canned sweetcorn and beans are all good additions to this dish if available.
** I use tins here to make it quicker, as the vegetable preparation is quite time consuming for this dish. If you have the time, however, the equivalent weight of prepared tomatoes, and soaked and cooked green lentils will do just as well. I usually have home-grown, ready prepared and preserved tomatoes, that I use in place of tins.
Preparation and cooking time: about 1½ hours in total. Serves 4.
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