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Bean and Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

Sweet potatoes are still inexpensive, which will only last another little while, so I managed to buy up rather a lot of them and then needed to use them (Oh! no! Not the sweet potatoes!) How else to use potatoes than a shepherd's pie. And if a shepherd's pie with sweet potato mash on top, then what to put underneath it? Beans! And then I found some sofrito in the fridge from another recipe, so that helped colour the flavours of the bean mix. Sofrito is a mix of blended onions, garlic, red pepper, green pepper, coriander, cumin and chilli. It is a South/Central American base used in cooking, the exact components and proportions of which vary. I also added beets to the beans. These I figured would help add some depth of flavour which a red meat dish normally has. The result was a little goopy because I was impatient with the bean mixture but very tasty.


For the mash:

1 kg sweet potatoes, chopped

2 tbsp butter

1/4 c milk (ish)

For the bean mix:

1 c dried red beans (small ones, not kidney beans, although these might work too)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 c red lentils

2 tbsp olive oil

4 onions, chopped

1 head garlic, minced

2 beets, chopped

3 tbsp sofrito

1 1/2 c passata

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried coriander

1 tsp dried orange peel

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

1 c cheese, grated

1) Soak the beans overnight. (I actually first brought them to a low simmer with the baking soda and then put them in my wonderbag, or slow cooker overnight, and then I brought them back to a boil before adding the other ingredients.)

2) Place the beans on the stove, add the lentils and bring to a simmer. In a separate pot, boil the sweet potatoes until mashable - 20 to 25 minutes (a bit longer if you chop them bigger).

3) In a frying pan, heat the oil. Brown the onions and garlic, then add the sofrito and the spices. Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, then add to the beans, along with the passata, beets, vinegar and lemon juice. Simmer to reduce until thickened to a spoonable consistency (or less if you don't mind it a bit liquidy).

4) Drain and mash the sweet potatoes with milk and butter. In a large ovenproof dish, place a layer of beans and then spread the sweet potatoes over the top. Sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake at 180°c for 30-35 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden and the two layers have married and bubbled together.

This was really tasty! It needed the beets and the brightening with the lemon and vinegar, but the spicing worked well for what it was and the beans contrasted nicely with the sweet potato mash. There was about twice as much of the bean mix as I needed, so I set the excess aside and we used it subsequently in wraps which it was very well suited to.

The beans were a little mushier than I would have liked. I assumed the cook times of kidney beans, which these clearly did not need. I would recommend merely soaking them overnight rather than placing them in a slow cooker, and leaving them alone until you start bringing other bits together the next day. I enthusiastically got them back on the stove too soon and they disintegrated. As a result, the beans could have done with some more texture to them. In addition to cooking the beans a bit less, I am wondering if something like cashews might not go nicely in the bean portion. That is just musing though. I have no idea. If you try it, let me know!

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