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This past week I came across 5lb bags of Long Island grown potatoes at the grocery store so I scooped up 1 bag of them.  As of late, I have been going through all of the grocery store circulars on Sunday and making a list (by grocery store) of what items are on sale that I would have any inclination to buy.  I have found that this makes it easy for me to shop by store with just this list.  I drift through the store thinking about what recipes I have come across/what I feel like cooking during the week while applying what is on sale to what I am thinking about making.  Sometimes I feel as if I am in my own kind of “Chopped” episode and my whole list is my black basket of mystery ingredients.  My list also had carrots, parsnips, red pepper, tomato paste, and beer.  For some reason, I thought “potato topped shepherd’s pie”.  In the past, I have taken these ingredients, roasted the veggies, and made a sort of a tomato paste sauce pizza.  The beer I drank while I was cooking except for a bit I threw into the pot.  

prep time: 15 minutes
cooking time: 45-50 minutes
servings: approximately 6-8 generous plates

Potato Topping

3 potatoes, about 2 lbs, chopped (I scrub the skin and leave it on)
1/2 c. milk
1 tblsp. olive oil
1 tblsp. butter
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste

Boil a large pot of water with potatoes in a large pot.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender.  Drain the potatoes and return to the cooking pot.  Using a potato masher, add in the milk, olive oil, butter, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Adjust for seasoning and add in more milk if potatoes seem too stiff.  Reserve for later.

Lentils (you can do these while the potatoes are cooking)

1 1/2 c. green or black lentils, picked over, washed (in strainer) and drained
2 3/4 c. water or vegetable broth

Put broth/water  and lentils in a pot and bring to a boil.  Then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 40-45 minutes until lentils are soft but not disintigrating.  Remove from heat.  Drain extra liquid if necessary.  Set aside

Vegetable Filling

1 tblsp. olive oil
1 tblsp. butter
3 large onions, halved and sliced into half moons (I like to use a red onion in here too)
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
2 parnips, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 can tomato paste
1/2 c. beer
1 tsp. oregano
1tsp. thyme
1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. salt
black pepper
1/2 c. grated parmesean cheese

Preheat oven to 375F

In a large heavy bottomed pot (I use this as an excuse to use my enameled cast iron 5 qt. Dutch oven, but who needs an excuse) over medium high heat, melt butter and olive oil together.  Put the onions, carrots, parsnips, red pepper, and garlic into the pot and cook till softened for about 8-10 minutes, adjusting heat if necessary.  Add in the thyme, oregano, rosemary, salt, pepper, tomato paste, and beer.  Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for another 5-8 minutes.  Add in the cooked lentils, stir, and adjust for seasoning.  Top with the mashed potatoes and smooth.  Bake for about another 25 minutes.  Sprinkle on cheese and  broil for the last 5 minutes for a nicely browned crust.  Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

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