Autumn has arrived and the mornings and evenings have a certain chill to them. Although the days are still quite warm, we have started to crave salads and barbeques less and warming, comfort food more.
This Shepherd’s pie is the perfect slow cooked family meal for a rainy, chilly day. If you are happy to spend an afternoon steaming up your kitchen and ready to grab a warming full bodied red over a glass of chilled refreshing white…this is perfect for you. Full of wholesome vegetables packed with vitamins and minerals, lean red meat for protein and energy, lentils for fibre and parmesan for, well okay…because it tastes great! The best thing is it makes enough for at least two meals so get busy and freeze it or put some aside for later.
This recipe is so versatile…you can swap and change the ingredients as you like but here is how I made it and it was a real winner…clean plates all round! I made one for four people and a baby and had enough leftover to make three more ramekin sized, individual pies for the freezer and enough pie filling to make about six pastry pies in the pie maker!
Earthy Autumn Shepherd’s Pie
For the pie…
500g good quality lean beef mince
1 onion chopped (leave out if following a low fodmap diet)
1 clove garlic chopped (leave out if following a low fodmap diet)
Any herbs you have on hand…I like to use earthy ones like rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley)
2 carrots, diced or grated
1 zucchini diced or grated
3-4 silverbeet or chard leaves chopped
handful of baby spinach
handful of peas
1/2 small sweet potato, diced or grated
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste (leave out if on a low fodmap diet)
1 can lentils, rinsed
1 tbsp flour
For the topping
4-5 potatoes for mashing
1/2 sweet potato
mozzarella, tasty or parmesan cheese for topping
What to do…
1. If you are an orderly person, chop, grate and dice all your veggies and things first…if you prefer to work under pressure, just do it as you go.
2. Begin by browning the mince in a large frying pan, then tipping it into a colander for the fat to drain off a bit.
3. Return the pan to the stove and wipe out with paper towel. Add some olive oil, then add the onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Then add your herbs and veggies and cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Once the veggies have softened, return the mince to the pan and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, lentils and then sprinkle over the flour. Stir well, then add in about one tomato can of water.
5. Simmer over low heat for about an hour so the mixture is nice and thick, not too runny. Taste at some point and add some salt and pepper if you like.
Okay, now is a good time to have a quick coffee before you move on to the potato…or alternatively, open your bottle of wine and commence taste testing…
6. Peel and chop potatoes and sweet potato and put them in a large pot of water to boil. When they are soft (takes roughly 20 minutes) drain really well and then mash well…you can add a bit of butter if you like.
7. Time to assemble…turn the pie mixture off and let it cool for a few minutes before you spoon out the desired amount into a casserole dish – use the whole lot for a big pie (6-8 people) or just make a smaller one so you can use the leftovers for something else.
8. Spoon over the potato mash and top with a good sprinkling of your choice of grated cheese and loosely cover with foil, or casserole dish lid.
Put in the freezer as is, or the fridge if you are not ready to cook…but if you are, preheat the oven to 170 degrees celcius.
9. Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes with the lid on and then 10 minutes with the foil off. If you want the cheesy topping to be browner and crisper, turn the oven to the grill function for a few minutes at the end.
It seems like a lot of ingredients and a lot of cooking but you could probably manage to whip this up with whatever veggies you have leftover in the bottom of the fridge on a Sunday afternoon. A great slow cooked, nutritious meal that the whole family can enjoy.