English blood runs thick through my veins and Shepherd’s Pie is a staple with the Brits. I’m not sure why my first memory of this comfort food is in college as I’m sure my dad or grandma made it for us growing up. But while in college there was a group of us who would take turns hosting “family dinner”. We were broke as a joke and couldn’t afford anything very fancy but that wasn’t the point. We loved being together as a family away from our family and some of my favorite memories are from those dinners. When it was Desi’s week we always had Tater Tot Casserole: ground beef topped with a bag of frozen green beans topped with a bag of frozen tater tots. Smothered in ketchup or bbq sauce and we were as happy as can be. After college, I found more traditional recipes thickened with flour, layered with mushy peas, and topped with buttery mashed potatoes. Below is an evolution of these versions of Shepherd’s Pie, a humble, cozy, and delicious meal fit to feed your family.
2 heads of cauliflower, chopped
3 yams, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
Stock, broth, water, or coconut milk, as needed
Salt and pepper
Your goal is to get the veg soft enough to puree. You can do this by placing veg on a baking sheet, drizzling with coconut oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast on 400 for 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and puree, adding stock as needed to loosen the veg. Use an immersion blender, your rocket propelled blender, or a food processor. Alternately, you can place the veg in a bowl with a splash of water, cover with plastic, and microwave on high for 10 minutes or until veg is very soft and puree-able. (This is the method I used.)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 big carrots (about 2 cups), diced
5-6 celery stalks (about 2 cups), diced
1 ½ pounds ground meat (lamb, beef, pork, bison, turkey, chicken, or a combination)
1-2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced (or 1 tsp dried)
1-2 tablespoons fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup stock (flavor depends on the meat you use, ex. beef stock for lamb, beef, bison)
Salt and pepper to taste
Warm the oil in a large sauté pan and add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Sauté on medium until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the ground meat (lamb is traditional, I had bison and pork on hand) and cook until browned, stirring occasionally. Add the herbs, vinegar, and stock, stirring to combine. Taste for salt and pepper.
In a 9×13 baking dish pour the meat mixture, top with sweet potato puree making sure to spread it to the edges. Top with cauliflower puree, spreading to the edges. If you roasted your veg and pureed together, just pour on top of the meat mixture and spread to the edges.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the top starts to brown. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with beautiful green vegetables or a green salad.
For a non-Whole 30 version you could add bacon and Worcestershire sauce for another layer of flavor.
Corey and I had planned to do a Whole 30 with DC and Margi but couldn’t due to previously planned events. It would have been impossible to remain true while at Oktoberfest in Leavenworth. We are three days into our Whole 30 and seem to be going through sugar detox fairly well, although I have a raging two-day headache and go to bed early to avoid eating dark chocolate while watching Homeland (best show on tv, btw). Corey has taken to black coffee well enough and while he covets pad thai (leftover from our last pre-Whole 30 meal) he turns to hard boiled eggs instead. I’m excited to see how we feel at the end, if we lose any weight, and how much stronger and faster we get at the gym.
What I’m even more excited about is how hard all of you are working out and how well you are eating. People are asking questions about food, trying recipes, and realizing that this isn’t some fad diet; it’s a new way of eating that makes your body and mind function better. It’s inspiring to see people who were once strangers help each other front squat and brainstorm breakfast ideas. While we all complain about sore hammies or how badly we want pizza, what we’re doing for our bodies is adding years to our lives, quality years. More time to spend together complaining about sore hammies! Keep up the good work!