Quorn products are getting so good now that it is easy to fool people into thinking they are eating meat – admittedly it only works with processed meat, you won’t be seeing a Quorn sirloin steak any time soon. Quorn mince is a particular favourite of mine, properly flavoured it is a perfect, healthy and low-fat alternative to real mince.
This delicious vegetarian twist on cottage pie has two key elements: the rich, succulent gravy and the earthy, deep flavours of the mash. It takes a little time to make but it is impossible to get wrong.
RECIPE – feeds 6
2 tbsp vegetable or rapeseed oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
400g Quorn mince
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 heaped teaspoon Marmite
1 heaped teaspoon English mustard
1 heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1 generous tablespoon of tomato puree
a generous splash of Worcestershire sauce
125g frozen peas
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the mash:
2 medium parsnips (approx 250g)
600g Maris Piper or similar floury potatoes
300g sweet potato
200g unsalted butter
a good grating of Parmesan
Heat the oil in a large pan with the dried herbs, add the onions and mushrooms and cook on a medium-high heat for ten minutes or so until lightly coloured, add the garlic toward the end of the cooking time. When coloured to your satisfaction stir in the Quorn mince and mix thoroughly until everything is fully combined.
Meanwhile, put the tomatoes in a pan over a medium heat and add the Marmite, mustards, tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce. Cook until the onions and mushrooms are ready, then correct and adjust the seasoning, adding more of the aromatic ingredients until it tastes right to you. Add the gravy to the onion and mushroom mix, together with approximately 200ml water to loosen the mixture. Bring to the boil and simmer for ten minutes until thick and rich, then allow to sit for as long as you can for the flavours to fully develop. When you are ready to assemble the pie, warm the mixture through and add the peas.
For the mash, chop the vegetables to the same size, bring two pans of salted water to the boil and cook the parsnips and swede together in one pan, the potatoes and sweet potatoes together in the other until soft. You can cook all the root veg together in one pot, adding the potatoes and sweet potatoes once the parsnips and swede have been boiling for five minutes, but it is more accurate to cook them in two separate pans.
When all the veg is cooked, mash all of the veg together in one large pan over a low heat to drive out any excess moisture. I use a potato ricer to make mash as it results in a perfectly smooth mix, but you can use a traditional masher and plenty of elbow. When the mash is smooth melt in the butter and mix thoroughly. Correct the seasoning.
Heat your oven to 180C/ 160C fan/ gas 4.
To assemble the pie, warm the filling and transfer to a deep pie dish, evening it out. Working from the edges of the dish, spoon the mash onto the filling then using a fork tease the mash into ridges, these will crisp up as the pie cooks. Grate over a light sprinkling of finely grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake in the oven for approximately 40 minutes, or until the mash is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
Serve alongside roasted or steamed carrots, broccoli or other seasonal vegetables.