Chicken parmigiana may do the trick for dinner during the week, but come the weekend, there’s nothing better than a comfort food feast. And Donna Hay’s chicken, lentil and cauliflower shepherd’s pie certainly fits the bill. Expect a hearty (and healthy) chicken mince and vegetable mixture, topped off with a creamy cauliflower and ricotta mash.
850g cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
3 cups (750ml) milk
½ teaspoon sea salt flakes
½ cup (120g) fresh ricotta
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons thyme leaves
500g good-quality chicken mince
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
400g can lentils, rinsed and drained
2 cups (70g) shredded silverbeet (Swiss chard), stems removed
¼ cup (20g) finely grated parmesan, plus extra to serve
Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Place the cauliflower and milk in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10–12 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Drain, reserving ½ cup (125ml) of the cooking liquid. Return the cauliflower and reserved liquid to the saucepan. Using a hand-held stick blender, blend until smooth. Add the salt and ricotta and mix to combine. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large shallow saucepan over high heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrot and thyme and cook, stirring, for 5–6 minutes or until softened. Add the chicken and cook, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon, for 3–4 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Add the tomato paste and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, for 10–12 minutes or until the liquid has reduced completely. Stir through the lentils and silverbeet.
Spoon the chicken mixture into a 3-litre capacity ovenproof dish. Top with the cauliflower mixture and sprinkle with the parmesan. Place on a large oven tray and cook for 35–40 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with extra parmesan to serve. Serves 4–6.