Vegetarian cottage pie.


Chickpeas and borlotti beans simmered away with the flavoursome trio of onion, carrot, celery, a tin of deep red plum tomatoes, a magical bay leaf, a splash of red wine for good measure, a flick of Tabasco, and then topped with creamy, buttery mashed potato = tasty in my book.

So tasty in fact, I have made three in the last two days.

The first was whipped up in a terrible rush on Tuesday night after a message from my friends Betta and Andrea asking me to bring something to sustain the vegetarians while the rest of us feasted on Andrea’s Coniglio all cacciatora and watched the Roma v Arsenal match – need I add, I was there for the food.

I had noted this recipe from a blog I am rather fond of called What Rachel ate today, its not just the name, although I admit a ting of namesakeness, I would think her blog delightful even if it wasn’t for the whole Rachel bit. I say I noted it, nothing organised like writing it down or copying it to a file. Several trips to the computer were needed while cooking, sticky hands and a computer keyboard are not ideal partners, in fact I think that is a fleck of red onion wedged between K and L I see before me.

Rushing, food in the keyboard and a phenomenal mess due to rushing in the kitchen aside, the pie was a great success, not quite up there with Andrea’s rabbit but that is another post. We should have let it rest, settle and firm up for a while before digging in but were bound by the time restraints of half-time and calcio passions quite alien to me but rousing nonetheless.

Success enough to merit a second batch yesterday, one for lunch and one for the freezer. This time I was prepared, clean apron, recipe noted on paper- which beats the screen anyday for me – a calmer disposition and a couple of tweeks in mind for the recipe.


Yes, I know, move your head to 90°, it looks better that way.

Time on my side I allowed the onion, celery, carrot, wine and tomato a longer lazy bubble before adding the precooked beans and leaving everything to bubble on for another 30mins. The beany stew was richer and denser as a result. I also randomly mashed some of the beans with the back of a fork before loading on the creamy duvet of mash, giving some of the beany stew a creamy texture which was then studded with the rest of the whole beans.

The mash was better second time round, I allowed myself to hear my mums voice in the background. Boil the potatoes whole in their skins she said so they don’t get waterlogged, allow them to cool and dry a little before peeling and pressing through a potato ricer. Warm the milk and butter before adding to the potato and be generous with the butter (easy peasy), season carefully and give everything a good firm beat with a wooden spoon for a good texture.

I ate the first pie for lunch, everything was still warm enough from being freshly made, so I decided the pie only needed a very brief recline in the oven to heat things up and a flash under the grill to crisp the top a little. I know the second pie which is sleeping in the freezer at present will need a good defrost and then longer in the oven to bring it back to warm, comforting life.


Vegetarian cottage pie.

Inspired by Rachel

makes 1 large pie for 4 or 2 smaller ones for two

  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 mild red onion finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150ml red wine
  • 400g tin of fine plum tomatoes
  • flick of tabasco
  • 200g cooked chickpeas
  • 200g cooked borlotti
  • 1 kg floury potatoes such as King Edward, Desiree, Caesar, the potatoes need to roughly the same size and modest in size.
  • 200ml whole milk
  • 125g good butter
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Warm the olive oil in a heavy based pan and add the onion, celery and carrot. Over a modest flame allow everything to soften and turn translucent which should take about 10 mins.

Raise the heat a little and add the tin of tomatoes, bay leaf, a flick of tabasco and wine, bring everything to a lively simmer and then reduce the heat and allow to simmer away for about 20 mins.

Add the beans to the pan, stir and allow to simmer away for another 30mins.

Meanwhile make your mash.

Scrub the potatoes clean and then leaving them whole and unpeeled cover them with cold, salted water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to lively simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender to the point of a knife which with modest sized whole ones will take about 30 mins.

Drain the potatoes and then once then are cool and dry enough to handle, peel them.

In a large heavy based pan warm the milk and butter gently and then remove from the heat. Press the potatoes through a potato ricer into warmed milk and butter and then beat everything together with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, taste, taste again.

By now your beany stew should be ready. Using the back of a fork mash and squash some of the chickpeas and beans and give everything a cheery stir. Tip the beans into your pie dish, even out with the back of a wooden spoon and then load on the layer of mash. use a fork to rough up the surface of the pie.

Bake the pie in a warm oven (about 200°C) for 20 – 40 mins depending on whether it is cold or still warm when it goes in the oven.

The pie is ready when the top is nicely browned and the sauce just starting to bubble up around the edges.


Filed under Beans and pulses, food, pies and tarts, recipes, vegetables

9 responses to “Vegetarian cottage pie.

  1. Betta

    I can witness this pie is fantastic, great taste and can magically stay warm forever.

  2. Ola

    Wow, I just stumbled upon your blog. I have recently become a vegetarian and was looking for a recipe for vegetarian cottage pie. I didn’t have any borlotti beans, so used kidney beans instead. It came out so good. Thank you for posting this, I think it’s my new favourite recipe!

  3. Robin

    Made your recipe tonight for dinner, and it was fabulous!

  4. Loved loved loved this recipe! So did all my family , thanks x

  5. ranneyoung

    This hands down my favorite vegetarian dish to make at family gatherings. Thanks so much!

  6. karishma

    What can I use to substitute for the red wine?

  7. Katie

    Holy moly! This dish is magical! I made it for the first time last night, and I’ve already made it a second time to freeze. Thank you SO MUCH for such a stellar recipe, Rachel! ❤

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