Growing up, we were a real meat and potatoes kind of family and so mom’s Shepherds Pie Recipe was a staple dinner meal. I grew up eating and loving this classic British dish. When I moved to London to study abroad in college I found myself tucking in to pub after pub in search of the best Shepherds Pie across the pond. Back then, the only criteria I really had was that it taste good. Of course the bar has been raised since my college days and today my criteria for a good Shepherds Pie recipe is that it not only taste good but also have lots of vegetables, less meat and dairy-free mashed potatoes (with their fiber-rich skins on!) And believe it or not, adding the vegetables, reducing the meat and banishing the dairy from the mashed potato topping actually enhances the flavor. And I’m not the only one who thinks so either… Last summer we took our son, Blake, to London (in the photo to the left) and he had his first authentic British Shepherd’s Pie at the Food Emporium at Harrods department store. I found it very interesting—and flattering!–that Blake said he actually preferred my “more flavorful recipe” to the one at Harrods. Shepherds Pie is not at all a spice-forward dish, so it wasn’t the spice that Blake was missing…it was the vegetables!
Make a Healthy Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
(with LOTS of Minced Vegetables!)
My healthy shepherd’s pie recipe uses considerably less meat than traditional recipes and incorporates way more vegetables than you would think would even work. When you make the recipe, you’ll see the vegetable to meat ratio is pretty much equal. If you are a meat-lover, this might make you nervous. But trust me, the vegetables are the secret star ingredient that not only boost the overall nutritional profile of the dish, but also the flavor. By finely mincing the vegetables in a food processor, sautéing them and then mixing with the meat, the vegetables do wonders to elevate the entire dish.
Shepherds Pie Vs Cottage Pie
By the way, classic Shepherds Pie uses lamb, not beef. If you substitute beef for lamb, then you’ll be making Cottage Pie. In fact, I initially created a simpler version of this dish for my friend Lisa Leake as a beef-based Cottage Pie over at 100 Days of Real Food (if you have not yet heard of Lisa’s NY Times bestselling cookbook, it’s a must-buy if you have kids and are trying to raise them on real food.) In addition to swapping lamb for beef, the Shepherds Pie Recipe below also incorporates peas and wine. If you want a simpler version, you can always just use the recipe featured on 100 Days of Real Foods. Ok, lets get cooking!Print
- ½ cup raw cashews
- ½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt (plus more to taste)
- 2 pounds organic Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes (unpeeled and cubed)
- 1 medium leek stalk (cleaned and sliced into thin rounds)
- ½ yellow onion (chopped)
- 4 carrots (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (divided)
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 1 ¼ pounds ground pastured lamb
- 2 tablespoons spelt flour or white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat)
- 2 teaspoons organic Worcestershire sauce (such as Annie’s Naturals)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste (plus more to taste)
- 1/3 cup red wine
- 1 1/2 cups frozen petite peas
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Place the cashews and 3/4 cup water in a high speed blender and process for a few minutes, until smooth and creamy. Add ½ teaspoon salt and process again. Set cashew cream aside.
- Add potatoes to a large pot of salted water and bring water to a boil. Reduce to a rapid simmer; cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to pot. Using a potato masher, mash potatoes until mostly lump free; drizzle in the cashew cream a bit at a time, until desired consistency. Season with salt to taste.
- Place the sliced leek rounds in a food processor and pulse several times to shred. Remove shredded leeks from food processor and set aside. Process the carrots and then the onions in the same manner, keeping all of the vegetables separate.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shredded leeks, carrots, and onions; sauté 5 to 6 minutes, or until vegetables soften a bit. Season vegetables with salt to taste and add the fresh thyme.
- Add the ground lamb and use a spatula to fully incorporate the meat in with the vegetables. Cook for about 5 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.
- Use a fork to whisk in the flour. Season with more salt to taste. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, wine and peas and cook for about 8 minutes, until all ingredients are fully incorporated and all liquid is absorbed.
- Spread the meat mixture on the bottom of a 9-inch square casserole dish or on the bottom of individual ramekins. Spoon the potatoes over the meat and smooth with the back of a spoon. Brush the potatoes lightly with oil; bake for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are just lightly browned on top. Remove from oven and let sit 15 minutes before serving.
P.S. Looking for More Healthy Dinner Recipes?
If you liked the Shepherds Pie Recipe, be sure to check out a full month’s menu of delicious healthy dinner recipes (including weekly shopping lists!) in our Clean Cuisine Dinners digital cookbook.