The winter of 2013/2014 will be forever in my memory as the one where winter came to Toronto. It came as snow, it came as rain and way sub-zero temperatures, and it came as an ice storm that found us sheltering inside our cosy house with my family (cats and all) while listening to tree branches crash down around us.
The super-cold temperatures this winter have left me craving serious comfort foods. After an evening of shovelling the driveway or mastering the toboggan hills, it’s just the dinner you want to come home to (unless you’re my husband and it’s kare kare you’re craving – but that’s a whole other story).
Serve the Shepherd’s pie with a side of greens for a nutritious and satisfying meal. Of course it makes for a terrific lunch the next day as well. Just warm it up in the oven in the morning and keep in a thermos until lunchtime.
You can make this using any ground meat you prefer, just make sure it’s good quality and fresh. It can be a hearty vegetarian dish as well. Substitute two cups of cooked green or brown lentils for the meat.
1 tablespoon of butter or extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 pound of ground turkey (or other ground meat, or 2 cups of cooked green/brown lentils)
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of low sodium tamari, or Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 ¼ cups reduced sodium stock (beef, chicken or vegetable will all work fine)
½ cup red lentils
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
Sweet potato topping:
2 pounds of sweet potatoes, parsnips and yellow potatoes combined, peeled and cut into chunks
1/3 cup of milk (dairy or non-dairy)
2 tablespoons butter or extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste
- Heat the butter or oil in a large pan. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the celery and carrots and sauté another 5 minutes.
- Add the ground meat, mushrooms, garlic, tomato paste, thyme and tamari sauce. Stir to break up any clumps.
- Once meat is beginning to brown add the stock and lentils. Increase the heat and bring to a low boil, stirring frequently. Partially cover with a lid and reduce heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make the topping: Steam the sweet potatoes, potatoes and parsnips until they can be broken up with a fork (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and drain. Add milk and butter and mash everything together until topping has reached the desired consistency. Season to taste.
- Once the meat and lentil mixture has cooked, remove from heat and add the chopped parsley. Mix well.
- Spoon into a large ovenproof dish, top with mashed vegetables, spreading evenly.
- Place dish on a baking sheet with sides (to prevent spills if pie bubbles over). Bake for 20 minutes, uncovered until bubbly and lightly browned.
What’s your favourite winter comfort food?