This year I plan to serve shepherd's pie on St. Patrick's Day. This savory stew with a mashed potato topping is hearty and delicious, and sure to please just about anyone. In Ireland, shepherd's pie is traditionally made with lamb (after all, shepherds look after sheep!), although here in the United States ground beef is the popular choice. Since I cannot eat either meat, I always make a meat-free version from a recipe I found in a little cookbook called Vegetarian Recipes: Cooking for Today by Better Homes and Gardens (1993). (There is a newer version available on Amazon.) I usually make the recipe exactly as described, but it is easily changed to suit your own tastes. If you have never made shepherd's pie before, give this easy recipe a try.
Savory Shepherd's Pie
3/4 lb. (3 small) potatoes, peeled if desired and cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried basil, crushed
2 T. butter
1/4 tsp. salt
2-4 T. milk
1 T. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 can (15 oz.) beans (any variety), rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 package (10 oz.) frozen vegetables (see Notes)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 C. shredded cheddar cheese
paprika for garnish
Place the potatoes in a pot and add cold water until the potatoes are just submerged. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and add the garlic, basil, butter, and salt. Mash until the butter melts and is incorporated into the potatoes. Beat in enough milk to make the potatoes light and fluffy. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook until soft. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, frozen vegetables, Worcestershire sauce, and sugar. Heat until bubbly.
Pour the vegetable mixture into a 9-inch square baking dish. Drop the mashed potatoes in four mounds on top. With a fork, gently spread the potatoes over the surface to cover completely. Sprinkle with the cheese and paprika. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until heated through and the cheese begins to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. Serves 4.
Notes: To save time, use refrigerated prepared mashed potatoes instead of making your own (I like Pineland Farms Natural Homestyle Mashed Potatoes). Use any vegetables you prefer (frozen or otherwise), such as peas, corn, or any blend you like. Also feel free to add meat or poultry (you will need to use a slightly larger baking dish if you do). If possible, look for an Irish cheddar cheese to use for the topping.
If you would like to try a meat-based recipe instead, check out this YouTube video for instructions: