Tag Archives: potatoes

Mix and Match Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie (topped with Butternut Squash!)

Shepherd’s Pie (topped with Butternut Squash!)

Growing up, we had Shepherd’s Pie quite a bit! In our house, it was essentially leftover mashed potatoes, frozen or canned corn and ground beef all baked in a dish together.  To be honest, I did not love it.

But now as an adult, I realize that was my mom’s way of using up leftovers and she didn’t get fancy with ingredients because she had 5 kids and at least one of us at any given time was a picky eater.

While I didn’t love the combo of plain beef and corn, I do see the appeal of a one pot dish and a form of Shepherd’s Pie appears in our house at least a couple times a month.  I like to call it Mix and Match Shepherd’s Pie.  It’s essentially one part protein, one part assorted cooked vegetables, a little tomato paste, worcestershire and appropriate spices, topped with mashed root vegetable or starch of your choice. This is not really a recipe, but more a loose formula, so go crazy if you like.  It’s a phenomenal way to use up leftovers, it’s full of comfort food, and it’s comprised of whole foods . . .what’s not to like?

The options are endless – almost anything you’ve got in your fridge can work here! I’ve made some really crazy combinations and so far neither John or I have turned up our noses at the result.  When you can’t think of anything to make – make this! The amount of nutrients you can pack into it are endless!

sausage, bell peppers, spinach, celery, onions and who the heck remembers what else! Filling for Shepherd's Pie!

sausage, bell peppers, spinach and who the heck remembers what else! Filling for Shepherd’s Pie!

Ingredients
16 – 20 oz protein of choice: try ground turkey, beef, lamb or pork, or sausages (casings removed), thinly sliced chicken breasts or canned beans.

3-4 cups leftover mashed root or starch: try potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, celeriac, turnip, rutabaga, kabocha squash or cooked polenta.  (If I don’t have leftovers, I boil and mash and then stir in 2 tbsp pasture butter or coconut oil to my starch/roots, plus salt and pepper. I usually will leave potato & sweet potato skins on)

3 cups chopped mixed vegetables of your choice: try mushrooms, broccoli, kale, dandelion greens, bell peppers, carrots, peas, zucchini, mizuna, cabbage etc.

1 cup diced onion or thinly sliced leeks
1 tbsp pasture butter, olive oil or coconut oil
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dried herbs (one or two): try ground sage, savory, basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon, marjoram, dill
optional: 1/2 tsp garlic powder, onion powder or smoked paprika
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions
Heat a large saute pan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of coconut or olive oil (or butter) and saute 3 cups of chopped mixed vegetables and 1 cup of diced onions/leeks until they begin to soften and the onions are almost translucent. Remove the vegetables from the pan and cook your meat (you don’t need to cook canned beans if you are using them), stirring occasionally until cooked through.  Stir the vegetables back into the pan, add the worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, herbs and any optional spices until everything is well blended.  Most meats will yield a small amount of liquid during the cooking process, if you use something that doesn’t and the pan seems dry, feel free to add a couple tbsp of water while working in the tomato paste and other flavorings.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Pour the meat / bean & vegetable mixture into the bottom of a large casserole dish or 9X13 pan.  Top with mashed root or starch and bake for 30 minutes or until warmed through.  Some toppings will brown better than others, if your top doesn’t brown, turn on the broiler and broil for 1-2 minutes (keeping an eye on it as roots brown quickly).

Remove from oven and let cool briefly before serving.  Makes 4 generous delicious, comfort food servings.

Note: If your mash topping seems soupy (as the case might be with things like butternut squash) stir in a beaten egg before cooking and it will firm right up during cooking!

My favorite combos:
Topping: Colcannon (mashed potatoes with kale, leeks & cabbage stirred in)
Filling: Ground Turkey, broccolini & carrots (photo below)

Colcannon/Butternut Squash shepherd's Pie with ground turkey, carrots and broccolini!

Colcannon/Butternut Squash shepherd’s Pie with ground turkey, carrots and broccolini!

photo 1 copy 5

Topping:  Butternut squash
Filling: Sweet Italian Sausage, Kale, Bell peppers, peas

Topping: Smashed Parm Potatoes
Filling: Ground Beef, mushrooms & carrots

Do you make Shepherd’s Pie? What are your favorite filling and toppings? Are you a traditionalist or do you like to veer off and clean out your fridge like me? Share in the comments below, I’d love to hear your side of things!

German Potato Salad

German Potato Salad - Light, tangy and crunchy!

German Potato Salad – Light, tangy and crunchy!

Potatoes have a bad reputation.  They’ll make you fat.  They’re a nightshade vegetable. They’ll raise your blood sugar.  They’re a white simple carbohydrate so we shouldn’t eat them.  I turn up my nose at all of that.  Potatoes are the bomb!!

They’re an amazing source of potassium, vitamin B6, copper, vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B3 and fiber and these are all things we need more of.  Due to the high amount of processed food people in America eat, most don’t get enough potassium in their diet and this can lead to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. Sadly, when people eat potatoes the most common way they eat them is fried, as in french fries and potato chips.  It’s not the potatoes fault we choose these horrendous versions of them. Poor potatoes.

But if you keep the skin on (organic and well scrubbed), pair potatoes with protein and eat a moderate serving of them in a non-deep fried version, they can be part of a healthy diet.  Potatoes are a whole food. A single ingredient.  From the earth.  These are all good things.  I’d much rather see people eating potatoes they made at home, than purchasing processed white hamburger rolls, pasta, white rice etc.  Please don’t put the potato in the same category as these white simple carbs.  It’s really all about making good choices.  If you’re going to eat a huge helping of potato salad and have two hot dogs on white rolls – yeah, you’re going to have a massive blood sugar spike and feel like crap (especially after you top it all with a bowl of ice cream).  But if you have a moderate serving of potato salad, with some grilled chicken or a burger on a portobello mushroom cap (and with some veggies), you’re going going to fare much better (even if you do have a little ice cream later).  It’s actually pretty simple.  Just eat smartly and you can enjoy potatoes for a good dose of potassium and fiber.

My love for the potato grows strong this time of the year because it’s cookout season and that means lots of opportunities for it’s appearance in cold salads.  While a creamy, mayo or buttermilk drenched salad is delicious occasionally (especially if there are delicious herbs and veggies in there), sometimes my stomach churns at the thought of yet another overly mayonnaised potato salad.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of mayo (the homemade kind) but come on, sometimes it seems like some recipes are just potatoes and mayo.  That’s ridiculous.  That is not a recipe.  That is phoning it in.  Driving to the store and buying premade pasta salad would actually take more effort. When I feel mayo-ed out, I turn to German Potato Salad to change things up.

This isn’t a fancy recipe and you don’t need much to make it, some yukon or red potatoes, vinegar, oil and then some herbs or veggies.  Maybe some mustard (and bacon if you are feeling it).  You probably have all the ingredients already in your kitchen.  So for those times when you just might dump the whole bowl of mayo salads over the head of their maker, you can smile and hand them this instead.

Steam the potatoes in a colander for a less crumbly result.

Steam the potatoes in a colander for a less crumbly result.

Add lots of crunchy veggies and some vinegar, oil & mustard.

Add lots of crunchy veggies and some vinegar, oil & mustard.

Add some salt and pepper and give a good stir and you're ready to eat.

Add some salt and pepper and give a good stir and you’re ready to eat.

Ingredients
2 – 2.5 lbs Medium sized Organic Red Potatoes (or Yukon Gold)
3 scallions, sliced thinly
3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
a big handful of fresh organic parsley, chopped (or 2 tbsp dried)
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp white vinegar*
1 tsp dijon or whole grain mustard
1 tsp salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper

Directions
Wash the potatoes well, cut them in half and boil in a pot of salted water for 15 minutes (until they give slightly with a fork). When they are mostly tender, drain the water and put the potatoes in a colander, then put the colander back over the pot you boiled them in and cover the potatoes with a clean dish towel.  Let them steam for 15 minutes.  Finishing them off this way instead of boiling for longer time prevents that overly mushy crumbly thing that happens to potatoes when you stir them a lot.

After the potatoes are done steaming, cut each potato half into quarters (depending on the size of your potatoes) and toss into a big bowl.  Add the scallions, parsley and celery to the bowl, then add the vinegars, oils, mustard, salt and pepper and give a good stir.  Serve at room temperature or chill for at least two hours to give the flavors time to develop.  If the salad seems too dry when you are ready to eat it (potatoes are thirsty buggers), add a couple tablespoons of water or chicken broth or a little more oil and vinegar. Serve with whatever amazing bbq you’ve got going on and don’t forget to invite me over!

Makes 4 – 6 good sized servings

*I didn’t put the gluten free tag on this because it contains white vinegar.  Most celiacs and gluten sensitive people tolerate white vinegar just fine but for the very sensitive, it could be an issue since it is made from grain, including rye or wheat.  The distillation process breaks down the gluten proteins so that the product is virtually “gluten free” from a testing standpoint (under 20 parts per million) but that doesn’t mean that it’s safe for everyone.  Complicated stuff!
Untitled drawing (1)