With both Christopher and I working, it’s important for us to plan our meals ahead of time. We usually sit down on a Saturday or Sunday, pore over my Pinterest boards and pick a handful of recipes to carry us through a week of dinners.
Usually, we rely on those recipes to a tee. But sometimes, one of us has a brilliant idea, and we run with it.
For Christopher, last week was his week to shine. He couldn’t get a away from shepherd’s pie. We hemmed and hawed over how to make it: Beef or turkey? If no peas, what vegetables? Plain or cheesy potatoes? I decided to freestyle in the kitchen and wound up with fabulous weeknight dish – so fabulous, Christopher took two servings just the other day, ate them just 5 hours apart and still looked forward to it both times.
Shepherd’s pie is at its heart a peasant dish of meat and vegetables held together by a gravy-like sauce covered in mashed potatoes. This pie is hearty and flavorful, but totally healthy and nutritious.
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound ground beef
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 large carrots, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 cups chopped broccoli
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces
3 1/2 cups shredded cauliflower, lightly steamed
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups beef broth
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set it aside.
In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and cook until it is starting to turn brown. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add carrots and cook for several minutes, until the carrots are starting to soften. Add the zucchini and broccoli and cook until all the vegetables are tender.
In the meantime, while the beef and vegetables are cooking, fill a large stock pot with water, add a hefty sprinkle of salt and drop in the cubed potatoes. Bring the water to boil and cook the potatoes until they are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Add the cauliflower, milk and butter and mash until the mixture is smooth.
Returning to the beef-vegetable mixture, sprinkle in the flour and stir, then add the broth, tomato paste and herbs. Cook until a gravy-like sauce forms. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour the beef-vegetable mixture into the prepared baking pan and spread it out evenly. Top it with the mashed potato-cauliflower mixture and spread it out evenly.
Place the pie in the oven and bake for about 30-45 minutes, using the last 5 minutes to broil the top until it is golden brown.
*My apologies for the blurry pictures. I was hungry.