Cottage pie with beef (and lentils if you choose)

Posted by

On the cusp of winter, I like to end my days with nourishing comfort foods. 

This cottage pie is sure to make you feel good, with its hearty dose of vegetables and bone-warming broth. 

The scent alone will give you warm, fuzzy feelings, possibly transporting you back to your childhood if cottage pie (or shepherd’s pie, made with lamb mince) was part of your family’s routine, as it was mine. Baked salmon and spiced wedgesHeidi Sze makes a family favourite with a few healthy tweaks.Read more

Back then my mother never added pomegranate molasses — that’s one of her more recent tricks, which I have adopted. 

Made from the juice of the pomegranate fruit, this thick, sticky syrup adds a welcome dose of richness and sweetness to the dish. You can find pomegranate molasses in good supermarkets and delis or, alternatively, use the more traditional Worcestershire sauce in its place.

Another non-traditional move you may like to make is swapping a portion of the meat for legumes, such as lentils. This will help reduce your meat consumption, which is good for sustainability reasons. It’ll also increase your fibre intake, which is good for wellness.


  • Quantity: Depending on the size of your family, this recipe will give you a second serving to be frozen, or reheated and served for dinner the following night.
  • Less meat: To cut down the meat quantity, swap half of the mince for 1 cup dry brown lentils, adding the lentils to the pot when you add the broth.
  • Cook time: Factor in 60-90 minutes to make the filling, topping and bake the pie. While it might seem like an investment, the cooking process is simple and the clean up quick. This recipe makes a big batch to make the most of your time.
  • Buying stock: I recommend using good quality stock, whether liquid or powdered, that is made from animal bones, vegetables and little else. Many store-bought varieties are excessively salty, so select salt-reduced when you can.
  • Bay leaf: I use fresh bay leaf, as opposed to dried, for a stronger flavour. Tearing bay leaves before adding them to the pot will release more aromatics.
  • Extra veg: To increase the variety of vegetables in this dish, add a range of vegetables to your mash. I sometimes swap half the potatoes for half a large head of cauliflower, adding the roughly chopped cauliflower to the pot of boiling potatoes in the final five minutes of cooking (be sure to add enough water to the pot at the start of the cooking process). I also like to serve the cottage pie with spinach leaves, broccoli or peas.
A large tray of beef cottage pie fresh from the oven, ready to be served for a family dinner.
IMAGESwap half of the beef mince for