We're in the home stretch until the official beginning of Spring and, as usual, Mother Nature is playing some late season tricks on us. From unusually high temperatures one week to two Nor'easters in another, it's just another typical late Winter in the Northeast.
It's these transitional times that I think about often when remembering years before. Times when you're so ready to loose the overcoats and hats but still want a comforting meal to ward off the chill. That's where this Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie comes in. It satisfies your need for something slightly "new" and yet provides all the warmth you crave this time of year. Not to mention it fits right in with your St. Patrick's Day spread.
While traditional shepherd's pie is a lamb, carrot and pea base topped with mashed white potatoes, my version puts a slight twist on that and sneaks in some extra vegetables as well. Swapping sweet potatoes for regular potatoes gives this dish a slightly sweet and savory flavor and also looks incredible with a deep orange crust atop a bubbling mixture of grass-fed beef and vegetables. Finely chopping a big bunch of kale also means you can get in some extra nutrients.
Now, some may see this and say - well what's wrong with regular potatoes? And the answer is - NOTHING! There seems to be a lot of "anti-white potato" sentiment out there lately which is a bit unfair. When comparing the two, they actually provide two very different sets of nutrients, both of which are EQUALLY important. I simply chose to use sweet potatoes here because I like the flavor and wanted to add a little twist to this classic dish.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
Time: 1 Hour
For the SWEET POTATO TOPPING
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup almond milk
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon sea salt
For the SHEPHERD’S PIE FILLING
1 tablespoon avocado oil (or olive oil)
2 cups yellow onion, diced (about 1 small onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup carrot, diced
1 cup mushroom, diced
1 pound grass-fed beef
2 cups chopped kale, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1. Preheat the oven to 400F and lightly grease a 9x13 inch casserole dish.
2. Place sweet potatoes in a steamer basket and place over a medium saucepan filled with 1-2 inches of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then cook for 20-25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are softened.
3. Drain the water from the saucepan and add the butter and almond milk. Place over low heat and cook for 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir in the nutmeg and sea salt before adding the sweet potatoes. Toss to coat and let cook for another 5 minutes.
4. Let sweet potatoes cool slightly before placing in a food processor or high speed blender. Blend on high until smooth. Set aside.
5. In a large skillet, add the avocado oil and heat over medium heat. Add the diced onion, carrot and mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, Add in the garlic and cook another minute.
6. Add the beef and let cook until cooked through and browned, about 5-7 minutes.
6. Add in the kale, tomato paste, water, thyme and sea salt. Let cook for 2 minutes before stirring in the arrowroot powder. Lower heat to medium-low and let simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Pour the filling into the prepared baking dish. Top with the sweet potatoes, spreading them into an even layer and being sure to create a seal at the edges where no air or liquid can escape. Use a fork to make a decorative top.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until filling is bubbling and sweet potatoes are lightly golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving.