Yesterday we had a very chilly and windy day in New York City. I was so cold during the school trip to a farm with my daughter’s class that all I could think in the afternoon was curling up on a sofa with a huge cup of tea.

As dinner time approached, nothing but comfort food was on my mind. So we cooked a Veggie-rich Shepherd’s pie.

The practicality and simplicity of this recipe allow even the most inexperienced cooks have a great dinner-time favorite ready in less than 40 minutes. The recipe is very flexible and gives a great opportunity to use up all the vegetables and herbs that have been sitting in the fridge for a while.

If you have a can of beans or some frozen peas or other vegetables on hand, they work beautifully in this recipe, too. And considering that only 5% of Americans meet their daily requirement for fiber, adding extra veggies and beans to your meals is a great way to make sure you are not the 95%!

Veggie-rich Shepherd’s pie 

Serves 6-8 (the leftovers can be frozen!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound of ground beef or turkey
  • 1 15-18 oz jar of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup of water (8oz)
  • 2-3 cups of chopped vegetables. I used celery, carrots, red peppers, green beans and edamame (the last two do not require chopping :)).
  • 1 cup of canned beans, rinsed
  • 2-3 teaspoons of fresh herbs or 1 teaspoon if dried herbs. The general rule is to add dried herbs at the beginning of cooking and stir in fresh herbs at the very end. However fresh thyme, just like rosemary, can withstand quite a lot of heat so I added it at the beginning together with 2 bay leaves.
  • 6-8 medium potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

  • Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or any heavy-bottomed pan
  • Add the onion and garlic and saute on medium heat until soft and fragrant, 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the meat and brown it slightly, breaking it into smaller pieces while stirring.
  • Add the tomato sauce or chopped tomatoes, water and vegetables. If using fresh thyme, rosemary, bay leaf or any dry herbs, add them to the pan at this point. Bring to a boil and adjust the seasoning.
  • Cook covered for 15-20 minutes on a low heat stirring from time to time.
  • In the meanwhile boil the potatoes and mash them with butter, season with salt and pepper.
  • Spoon the meat sauce into a baking dish or individual ramekins (a great way to control your portions!) and top it with the mashed potatoes and grated parmesan, if using.
  • Place under the broiler for 4-5 minutes just to slightly brown the top. Or, if you have more time, bake it in the oven for 20-30 minutes until a nice crust is formed.

Enjoy!

P.S. It takes about 35-40 minutes to prepare this dish from scratch, but you can shorten the preparation time significantly by cooking the meat sauce in advance or buying a pre-made meat sauce and just adding veggies and beans to it.

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