Make this comforting pie in bulk and freeze in separate servings, so you can defrost only what you need
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For best results, defrost the prepared pies thoroughly before cooking as stated. The pies can also be cooked from frozen if short of time – first heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3, then cover the pie with foil and bake for 1 hr-1 hr 20 mins (30 mins for individual pies) until completely soft when prodded with a knife. Increase the heat to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6, uncover, then continue to cook for 20 mins until golden on top and piping hot.
You could also use three cans of rinsed and drained green lentils for this – simply make the stock, then simmer them for just 10 minutes.
How to freeze
If you have lots of pie dishes, then you can make the pies in a variety of sizes to suit different occasions, then freeze them. I like to make two large pies to serve up to four, plus two individual pies – perfect for a solo meal or a delicious supper for the babysitter. If you don’t have lots of dishes, then you can freeze the sauce, mash and cheese in separate freezer bags, then defrost and assemble when needed.
If you want to use a slow cooker...
Fry off your onions, celery, carrots and garlic for 15 mins in a frying pan. Tip into your slow cooker with the mushrooms, herbs and lentils. Pour over the stock and wine, cover and cook on High for 5-6 hours. Meanwhile make the mashed potato according to step 2. Turn off the slow cooker, season and stir in the tomato purée. Divide the lentils between dishes, top with the mash and cheese and cook for 30 mins until piping hot.