*This recipe starts with already baked potatoes and cooked pink lentils.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut baked potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out flesh into a large bowl, leaving a thin boarder or lining of potato flesh in tact. Place the potato halves on a large rimmed baking sheet and brush each side with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook potatoes for 5 – 7 minutes, flip over and cook for another 5 – 7 minutes, until exterior is browned and crisp. Set aside if making the Vegan or Vegetarian versions.
For the mashed potatoes, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil or vegan butter to the scooped out potato flesh and a heavy slash of dairy-free milk. Mash potatoes, adding more milk as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fill a pastry bag (with a star tip) with the mashed potatoes, set aside.
For the filling, heat olive oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrots and celery; cook for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened, then add the garlic and one teaspoon of course salt and cook for 5 minutes. Add the peas and cook until warmed through. Stir in the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and herbs and cook until liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine, cooking for 1 – 2 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and cook until slightly thickened and nearly all liquid is absorbed. Stir in lentils and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Preheat broiler and move oven rack to highest position. Fill each potato skin with the vegetable filling and top with either the shredded cheese or mashed potatoes (pipe or spoon and spread on the mashed potatoes). Place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and top edges of mashed potatoes are browned – be sure to watch carefully as they can go from just right to burnt very quickly.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and drizzle with balsamic syrup. Serve warm.