SNEAKY 12-VEG GUT-LOVING FEAST PIE

I love creating recipes that have the potential of changing how we feel and function.  This recipe was inspired by the wonderful chef and food writer Gizzi Erskine and her latest cookbook SLOW. Recipes that help us sneak in goodness without compromising on taste and texture are great finds and to create one that allows 12 different types of vegetables to go incognito is a spectacular treat. I had 8 hungry teenagers at my house last week and 3 of them were certified veg-haters. They all devoured the dish and one of the “anti-veggies” even told me this was one of the best meals he had ever eaten.

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HOW TO MAKE

  1. Place the dried porcini mushrooms in 250ml of boiling water and leave for 20 minutes to rehydrate. Once done drain the mushrooms through a sieve keeping the mushroom water. chop up the mushrooms and set aside.
  2. Chop up the chestnut and shitake mushrooms finely and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a large casserole dish (with a lid) and add all 3 different types of mushrooms and fry on medium heat until they have soaked up all the oil and all the water that will inevitably seep out of the mushrooms has evaporated. Spoon the mushrooms out of the pan and set aside.
  4. Add the rest of the oil in the pan and add the chopped onions, leeks, celery and carrots and cook slowly for about 5 to 10 minutes until they have softened and start to take colour. Add the chopped garlic and tomato paste as well as the cooked mushrooms that you had set aside, and cook for another 2 minutes or so until the vegetables start to caramelise.
  5. Add the lentils, the porcini mushroom-water that you had set aside along with 750ml of water and salt pepper and the gluten-free Worcester sauce (Biona does a good one). Stir and bring the water to the boil and then turn the temperature down to low and put the lid on and cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Whilst the lentil mixture is cooking make your root vegetable mash. Chop the celeriac, parsnips, sweet potato, swede and Jerusalem artichokes into cubes and place them in a pan and add enough water to come halfway up. Bring the water to a boil, place the lid on and cook for 15 minutes or so, on a low heat until the vegetables are nice and soft and ready to be mashed.
  7. Drain the vegetables and them dry for 5 minutes in the sieve or colander. Place the vegetables back in the pan, add the extra virgin olive oil, plant-based milk and sea salt and mash with a potato masher until lump free and as smooth as possible and set aside.
  8. Check on your lentils and after 25 minutes take the lid off and let the mixture cook for another 15 minutes so that most of the liquid has been cooked away. Place the mixture in a large baking or pie dish (I used one from Le Creuset) and pace the root vegetable mash on top. drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top and place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and serve on its own or with some broccoli or steamed kale.

THE SCIENCE BIT

There is mounting evidence to suggest that a healthy gut can help support a healthy brain and a healthy immune system. We carry in our gut about 2kg of microbes which make up our microbiome. This amazing ecosystem helps control the majority of our immune system, helps produce vitamins and minerals, break down toxins, educate our immune system, and extract the energy our bodies need from our food, even from food that would otherwise be inaccessible to us such as those containing fibre. There is evidence to suggest that the more variety of microbes we have the better the microbiome can do its job. In order to get this variety in our microbiome, we need to eat a variety of foods to feed our ecosystem. Every single vegetable in this dish as well as the lentils offer a different type of food to our gut bugs and help grow different species. This is a true gut "supermeal".