Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Recipe Makeover - Shepherd's Pie

One of the simplest and least invasive ways to eat healthier is to upgrade the meals you’re already eating using healthier ingredients.  This way, you can still enjoy the dishes you like as you begin to also explore new foods. 

Growing up, Shepherd’s Pie was a regular on our dinner table.  Truth be told, I didn’t like it.  The original recipe began with cooked ground beef and onions.  Layered on top of that was a can or two of creamed corn, followed by a thick layer of mashed potatoes.  It was baked in the oven until the top got a little crispy and was usually eaten with ketchup. 

Even to this day, I won’t eat this traditional version of Shepherd’s Pie, yet, the other day, I asked my daughter what she wanted to make for dinner and her answer was, you guessed it - ‘The Pie”.  Thankfully, she was all about a recipe makeover too, to make it more palatable for me and we were both on the same wavelength when we came up with the recipe below. 

We preplaced the standard ground beef with organic ground turkey and added chopped celery in with the onions.  For the middle layer, we eliminated the sugary creamed corn and instead combined half of the onions and celery with frozen organic corn and peas as well as fresh, chopped carrots.   My favorite part was the top layer.  We roasted cauliflower and sweet potatoes and combined them for a sweeter yet less dense topping that carries a lower glycemic load than the traditional potatoes.

In the end, we have a cleaner, fresher, and I think, tastier version of one of my family’s favorites that doesn’t need condiments.   Since this dish requires a fair amount of work, my suggestion is to make a large pan and either have it for leftovers throughout the week, or freeze some for later.  Believe it or not, though, this dish did not last long...

Shepherd’s Pie

1 head organic cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
2 large sweet potatoes, washed, peeled, and chopped into 1” pieces
olive or coconut oil
1 lb organic ground turkey
1 large Spanish onion, chopped small
2-3 stalks celery, washed, ends trimmed and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen organic corn (or fresh removed from cob if in season)
1 cup frozen organic peas
2-3 large carrots, washed, peeled, and sliced into quarters lengthwise, then diced
sea salt

Combine the cauliflower florets and sweet potatoes in a bowl.  Drizzle with oil and a dash of salt, stir to coat well, then transfer the mixture in a single layer to a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees F for ~45 min, or until both vegetables are tender.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, brown the turkey in a frying pan, adding herbs such as oregano and thyme if desired.  Transfer the meat to a bowl and sauté the onions, celery and garlic in the pan drippings until tender, adding a small amount of oil if necessary.  

Transfer half of the vegetables to the meat and combine.  Spread the meat into an oiled 13 x 9 baking dish.

To the remaining onions and celery, add the corn, carrots, and peas and a just enough chicken or vegetable broth to steam the vegetables.  Cook covered over medium heat until the carrots are almost cooked through.  Add salt and pepper to taste and layer the mixture on top of the meat. 

While the vegetables are steaming, place the cauliflower and sweet potatoes into a food processor and process until smooth.  Add a bit of broth or milk for a thinner consistency if necessary.   Spread the potato/cauliflower mixture on the meat and vegetables. 

Bake the pie in a 350 degree F oven until heated through, ~30-45 minutes.  Serve with sautéed greens and/or a crisp green salad.

You may also like:  Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

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