Shepard's Pie with Chard-Lentil Filling and Onion Gravy

vegetarian shepard's pie serving with onions2
Adapted from Eats Well with Others, originally from The Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook

Wine-Braised Lentils:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1/2 cup dried brown or green lentils
2 Tbsp. red wine
3/4 to 1 cup of water
1/4 tsp. salt

Onion Gravy:
3 Tbsp. butter
2 cups sweet onion, sliced thinly into half moons
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 cups water
1 Tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch of sugar
1 tsp. soy sauce

Shepard's Pie
1 recipe wine-braised lentils
1 recipe onion gravy
2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, quartered (I left the peels on)
2 tsp. salt
3 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
3 Tbsp. almond milk or low-fat/skim milk
1-2 Tbsp. non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
ground black pepper to taste
3-4 cups Swiss chard (from 1 bunch), washed, stemmed and chopped/torn into ribbons
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

For the lentils, in a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, carrot, and thyme. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions are slightly softened. Add the lentils and stir to cook. Add the wine and bring to a simmer, allowing the wine to reduce. Add 3/4 cup of water. Return to a simmer. Reduce the heat, cover, and cook at a slight simmer until fork tender, around 40 minutes. Add water as needed while cooking so that the lentils do not dry out. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, taste. Add more salt if necessary.

For the mashed potatoes, fill a medium-sized saucepan with 4 cups of water. Add the potatoes and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Add the whole garlic. Return the lid and cook until fork tender, about 30 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes and garlic to a large mixing bowl and mash. Stir in reserved cooking water and milk as needed to keep the potatoes moist. Add the Greek yogurt and mix until creamy. Add the garlic salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch pie plate. Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Over medium heat, cook the chard and minced garlic until wilted, 3-5 minutes, tossing with tongs to coat evenly. Stir in the nutmeg and season to taste with salt. Mix together with the cooked lentils and add to the bottom of the pie plate. Top with the mashed potatoes, smoothing the top. Sprinkle with the grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes or until heated through. During the last 2 minutes, set the oven to broil to brown the cheesy topping.

Star the onion gravy while the pie is cooking. In a deep skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onions and thyme. Toss to coat the onions with butter and cook over medium-low heat until softened, reduced, and jamlike. This can take 20-30 minutes. Keep cooking over lower heat to avoid burning the onions. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Add the water and bring to a lively simmer. Reduce by half, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook for an additional 5 minutes. The gravy will continue to reduce. Stir in the salt and sugar, and taste. Finish with soy sauce. Serve spooned over a slice of the pie.