Another Hairy Bikers’ triumph, this vegetarian cottage pie (which can easily be made vegan-friendly by substituting the cheese for a vegan product) is low in calories, easy to make and so absolutely delicious that it positively encourages over-eating. The trick here is using a gorgeous baked crust of sweetcorn and polenta, rather than mashed potato.
The good news is that if you DO over-eat (and in my experience that is quite likely) you still won’t have eaten too many calories. Dividing this between four people gives exceedingly generous portions, each serving coming in at only 400 calories.
RECIPE serves 4 – 6
1 tsp olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 large carrot, small dice
1 red and 1 green pepper, each small dice
3 fat garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 dried chipotle chillies, finely chopped
1x 400g can of kidney beans
1x 400g can of butter beans
1x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
300ml vegetable stock
small bunch of finely-chopped fresh coriander
500g sweetcorn kernels
3 tbsp fine cornmeal (polenta)
1 tsp baking powder
15g unsalted butter (vegetable oil if making it for a vegan)
50g mature cheddar (or vegetarian/vegan equivalent)
Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat, add the onion, celery, carrot and peppers, with a pinch of salt and a splash of water and sweat, covered, gently for around fifteen minutes until softened.
Add the garlic and spices and cook, stirring, for a further minute, then add the beans, tomatoes and stock. Stir thoroughly and bring to the boil.
Reduce to a simmer and leave it to reduce to a thick sauce.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 190C/ fan 170C/ gas 5.
Make the topping: in a food processor, blitz half the sweetcorn with the polenta, baking powder, butter and a generous pinch of salt. At this stage you want a smooth paste. Now add the remaining sweetcorn and pulse the food processor until the texture is rough but all the sweetcorn has broken down. Check and adjust the seasoning.
Check and adjust the seasoning of the filling then pour it into an ovenproof dish and carefully spoon the topping thinly and evenly over it. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and a good grinding of black pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the topping is a deep golden brown and the filling is piping hot.