Va. students create recipe, win culinary challenge

CHANTILLY, Va. (WUSA9) -- A group of students from Chantilly, Va. found a way to stir up a delicious yet healthy vegetarian meal.

The aspiring chefs recently won the Real Food for Kids 2nd annual Feeding Academic Success Culinary.

The contest challenged participants to create original recipes for vegetarian entrees that could be possibly incorporated in the Fairfax County lunch program.

"Since Real Food For Kids mission is to increase the quantities of healthful foods in our schools, what better way to do that than to engage these talented culinary students and show how important all kids are in helping improve the quality and appeal of school food" said JoAnne Hammermaster, president of Real Food For Kids.

Fairfax County offers culinary academies in high schools which give students the opportunity to learn from chef instructors in hopes of attending culinary arts school after graduation.

"I am going to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park as is Julian and Aubree," said student spokesperson Gabe Concordia.

The students were able to win prizes such as, Wüsthof and Victorinox knives and some were even offered internships at Willow, Ris, Bastille and Nora's restaurants.

Here is the Lentil Shepherds Pie recipe the students created:


  • 9 ½ cups vegetable stock, divided
  • 1 cup lentils, uncooked
  • 4 T olive oil, divided
  • 6 T butter, divided
  • ¾ lb sweet potato, diced
  • ¾ lb butternut squash, diced
  • 1 ½ lb Yukon gold potato, diced
  • ½ cup onions, small dice, divided
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 T fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 T fresh sage, chopped
  • ½ cup carrots, small dice
  • ½ cup zucchini, small dice
  • ½ cup fresh corn, cut off cob
  • ¼ cup peas, frozen
  • ½ cup 2% milk
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400˚
  2. Bring 8 cups vegetable stock to a boil in a large (3-4 qt.) saucepan.
  3. Rinse lentils under cold water, add to stock and boil for 25-30 minutes, until tender.
  4. Drain lentils, reserving liquid for another use.
  5. Spread drained lentils on cookie sheet and season with pinch of salt.
  6. On a separate cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, toss cubed butternut squash and sweet potatoes with 2 T of olive oil.
  7. Spread squash and sweet potatoes in single layer on the sheet and roast in 400˚oven until tender.
  8. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add Yukon Gold potatoes and boil until fork tender.
  9. Drain and reserve potatoes.
  10. In another saucepan, melt 3 T of butter.
  11. Add 2 T of onions and sauté until onion is softened and golden brown. Sprinkle flour over the onions.
  12. Whisk to blend as you continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and has a slightly nutty smell.
  13. Whisk in 1 ½ cups vegetable stock and bring to boil. Stir in fresh herbs and simmer until mixture thickens.
  14. Heat 2 T of oil in a large sauté pan over medium- high heat.
  15. Add carrots. Stir as you continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.
  16. Add remaining onion and sauté for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  17. Add zucchini and sauté until tender.
  18. Reduce heat to medium and add lentils, corn, and peas.
  19. Fold to combine, caring to not to break lentils' skins. Add the thickened gravy to the lentil mixture.
  20. Mash together Yukon and sweet potatoes and butternut squash while they are still warm.
  21. Add milk, garlic powder, and 3 T butter and mash until smooth.
  22. Coat casserole dish with cooking spray. Add filling and spread in one even layer.
  23. Spread mashed potato mixture over top of lentil filling.
  24. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until top is golden brown.
  25. Enjoy!


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