Eyes on the pies

It’s British Pie Week, so get baking and impress your loved ones with our delicious cottage pie with a healthy twist

by Webmaster, 2nd March 2021

It’s British Pie Week, so get baking and impress your loved ones with our delicious cottage pie with a healthy twist

Let’s face it, we're a nation of pie lovers, whether it’s traditional meat and potato, shepherd’s pie or a sweet apple pie with custard. Now the organisers of British Pie Week, held in the first week of March, have been on a mission to find out what our favourite pie is. And the results are in.

After surveying 3,308 Brits, the most popular savoury pie we make at home is the cottage pie, closely followed by the shepherd's pie. Fish pie also made it into the top 10, as did chicken pie and pork pie. 

Apple pie came in first for desserts, with many people revealing they use their own or a family's recipe, but there were still 229,600 monthly searches for ‘apple pie recipe'. Banoffee pie came in second and lemon meringue also made the list. 

These may all sound delicious, but as many of us are struggling to shed a little lockdown weight, here’s a healthy, vegetarian version of the British Pie Week winner, the cottage pie. It makes the perfect, filling, family staple on a weeknight, served with some steamed spring greens. 



For the potato topping:

3 floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper, peeled and chopped

Small handful frozen peas

Knob of butter

2 spring onions, roughly chopped

25ml milk

75g/3oz mature cheese, such as cheddar, broken into chunks

Pinch smoked paprika


For the lentil mixture:

1 tbsp olive

½ red onion, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 small carrots, peeled, chopped into small pieces

1 celery stalk, trimmed, chopped into small pieces

400g/14oz canned plum tomato

Pinch smoked paprika

1 fresh bay leaf

85ml/3fl oz red wine

100ml/3½fl oz vegetable stock

1 sprig fresh rosemary

splash balsamic vinegar

small handful fresh flatleaf parsley roughly chopped

400g/14oz canned puy lentils

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper



1 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. For the topping, heat a pan of salted water, add the potatoes and bring gently to the boil, then simmer until the potatoes are nearly cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. When the potatoes are almost done, add the frozen peas and cook for a few more minutes until the peas are tender. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, for the lentil mixture, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the chopped onion, garlic, carrots and celery for 5-10 minutes, until softened.

3. Add the remaining lentil mixture ingredients except for the lentils and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has reduced. Stir the lentils into the tomato sauce.

4. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat, then gently fry the spring onions until softened. Add the milk and heat through.

5. Mash the potatoes and peas roughly. Add the warm milk mixture to the potatoes and continue to mash until combined but still chunky. Spoon the lentil mixture into a medium pie dish and top with the mashed potato. Scatter over the cheese and smoked paprika. Place the dish onto a baking sheet and bake the pie for 25-30 minutes, or until the potato is golden-brown.

For a vegan alternative... just leave out the cheese or use a vegan cheese alternative, and use a nut milk and margarine rather than dairy. 

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