by Kathleen Walck

Despite Spring’s official arrival yesterday, my kitchen is still in winter mode. I want all manner of warm, comforting foods on these windy, cool days; no Nicoise salads for me, just yet (it’s a favorite Easter dish in my house).

In like a lion, out like a lamb, so they say about March, which got me thinking about shepherds, and then shepherd’s pie.  I enjoy its heartiness and its ability to use up just about any vegetables I have on hand, either in the fridge or freezer.  As long as I have a couple of potatoes (or mix of root veggies) to make the mashed potato topping, it’s an easy dish to make.  And it’s a great way to highlight spring vegetables like peas and asparagus, or even spinach.

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When I was a strict vegetarian, I’d make this just with veggies, or sometimes a soy product, but I’ve recently begun incorporating a bit of meat into my diet so I made this with ground turkey.  It’s a gluten-free meal, as I don’t use flour to thicken the sauce.

SHEPHERD’S PIE (makes a 9×13″ casserole)


  • 1 lb. ground turkey, lamb or beef
  • 4-6 large potatoes
  • butter, salt, pepper, milk (for the mashed potatoes)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 cups assorted vegetables, larger pieces cut into 1″ chunks (carrots, celery, cauliflower, peas, corn, etc.)
  • olive oil or butter for cooking
  • Ketchup
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Worcestershire sauce


Make the mashed potatoes.  I peeled, cut up and boiled my potatoes until soft, drained them and added a few tablespoons of butter and about 1/2 cup of milk.  Salt and pepper added to my liking.  Then my son mashed them (quite enthusiastically, I might add).

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Set these aside.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Saute the onion and garlic in the oil or butter until soft.  Add the ground meat and the “secret ingredients”–1 tsp each of ketchup, balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Lots of umami flavors there.

ShepherdsPie 003Cook until the meat is browned.

Often I see recipes suggesting you add flour to thicken the gravy/sauce, but I didn’t add any to mine.  You could grind 1/4 cup of whole oats in a blender and add that to the pan to thicken it if you desire.

When the meat is cooked, add the veggies and cook for a few minutes.  They don’t need to be entirely cooked, as they will finish off in the oven.

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(note: that pot of liquid has nothing to do with the dish–it was a hot toddy I was making alongside the dish)


Transfer the contents of the pan into a 9×13″ casserole dish.

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Top with the mashed potatoes, making a few peaks and points with a fork to encourage browning.

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Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is browned.

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Enjoy and happy Spring to you!

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