This is really easy to make. You can pack in lots of your favourite vegetables and beans in combinations that you enjoy. I like mushrooms and green pepper or leeks along with lentils and butter beans. Using red or orange peppers makes it slightly sweeter if you prefer.
It is a great way of using up leftover vegetables and bread. I like to add some cheese on top but you can mix the breadcrumbs in melted butter to help bind the topping ingredients together if you don’t want to use cheese.
Try different flavourings to suit the vegetables you have picked for the base – sundried tomato paste, olive paste, herbs, Tabasco, Marmite, tamarind, chilli flakes or black pepper – use whatever takes your fancy. For the mushroom and green pepper combination, I think mixed herbs and olive paste work well.
This is a complete meal for two, but if you want to make it go further or get more of your 5-a-day in, serve it with steamed vegetables. Spring greens, cauliflower and carrots work well in the winter or a crisp salad in the summer.
It is quite hard to buy small tins of beans and lentils these days and it is definitely more cost effective to buy 400g cans. You use the other half in a lunchbox salad the next day.
For the base:
Sunflower or olive oil for cooking
1 clove garlic
1 green pepper
1 stick celery
Half of a 400g can of butter beans or black eyed beans
Half of a 400g can of green lentils or 130g/4-5 oz dried green or brown lentils
200-300mls/7-10 fl oz vegetable stock or a mix of stock and mushroom ketchup
For the topping:
A couple of handfuls of breadcrumbs
Pumpkin and sunflower seeds
Grated cheddar cheese or mozzarella
Make the vegetable base:
- If you are using dried lentils, get these cooking first as they take about 30 minutes, but they will be ready by the time you have finished preparing the rest of the bake.
- Prepare all the vegetables – finely chop the onion and celery, wipe and quarter the mushrooms, slice the green pepper into thin strips, chop or crush the garlic.
- Gently fry onion and celery together until translucent
- Add the garlic, mushrooms and green pepper along with the stock or mushroom ketchup and any flavourings.
- Simmer until the vegetables have softened and the liquid has reduced – this takes about 15-20 minutes.
- Drain and add the lentils and beans to the vegetable mixture. Give everything a good mix and tip into an ovenproof dish.
For the topping:
- While the vegetable base is cooking, coat the seeds in soy sauce and set aside.
- Mix the dry breadcrumbs and grated cheese – if you like a stronger flavour, use extra mature cheddar.
- If you prefer not to use cheese, then mix the breadcrumbs with a little melted butter.
Put it together and bake:
- Spread the breadcrumb mixture over the top. If you are using mozzarella, chop into pieces and place on the breadcrumbs.
- Sprinkle the soy coated seeds over the top of the breadcrumbs. The topping will bind together in the oven.
- Bake at 200°C for about 20-30 minutes until the topping has browned.