I love cooking with lentils. They are a cheap and easy way to bulk up meals, and are a great protein alternative to meat. But did you know that lentils are also one of the top fertility foods? According to Medical News Today just one cup of lentils provides up to 90% of your recommended daily intake of folic acid. Great news for anyone trying to conceive!
Those who are TTC will, I’m sure, be aware that you are recommended to take folic acid supplements before you start trying to get pregnant as it supports the healthy growth of your foetus. It can also help to regulate your menstrual cycle and improve sperm quality. Whilst I don’t suggest that you ditch the supplements, it can’t hurt to add a few lentils to your diet every now and then.
I’ve become a big fan of this vegetarian cottage pie recipe (I think I actually make it more than the meat-filled version now). The sweet potato topping is a nice alternative as well. You can serve this up with whatever veggies you prefer, or if you’re feeling really greedy try it between two slices of buttered bread (seriously it’s delicious!).
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 325g mixed mushrooms (Shiitake, Swiss Brown), sliced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 150g green lentils
- 1kg sweet potato, peeled and cut in to 1” cubes
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1tbsp sundried tomato paste (or normal tomato puree)
- 200ml vegetable stock (or chicken stock is fine if you’re not making this for vegetarians)
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 2 knobs butter
- Splash of Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tsp paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
Steam the sweet potato for about 15 minutes then mash with the butter and set aside.
Whilst the sweet potato is cooking, get started on the filling. Rinse the lentils and drain. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium flame and fry the onion for 3-4 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
Add the carrots and mushrooms and cook for another 6 minutes, stirring every now and then. Add the lentils, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, rosemary leaves, Worcestershire sauce and paprika. Cover with a lid and cook for 2 minutes on low until the tomatoes have broken down slightly. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the vegetable stock and simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so the ingredients don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Heat the oven to 180°C. When the lentils are just soft, transfer the contents of the pan to an ovenproof dish and flatten into an even layer. Spoon on the sweet potato mash and using the back of a fork, spread it out until the mash reaches all edges, taking care not to disrupt the lentil mixture. Make a criss-cross pattern on the mash with the fork. If you like scatter over a handful of grated cheese and garnish with a couple of pieces of fresh rosemary.
You can make this in advance and then heat in the oven when you’re ready. Heat in the oven for 15 minutes. You can finish under the grill to get a nice crisp top. Serve with veggies of your choice.