This was a case of my subconscious winning the day. I swear for the last couple of weeks I’ve seen numerous examples of shepherd’s pie in various places, both online and in my daily life. It seems to me I was inundated with this idea for so long that when it was time to try something new this automatically came to mind. So what did I do? I turned to my favourite low-fat blog Skinnytaste for inspiration!
What did I find?
I was turned onto this site by a good friend a couple of years ago, and since then I’ve enjoyed reading all the various recipes the site’s creator, Gina, posts. I’d never actually tried any of the recipes, though I’d used many of them as inspiration. This time, I thought I’d see what she had to say about shepherd’s pie, and I found a recipe that instantly appealed to me: Sweet Potato Turkey Shepherd’s Pie. I’ve never made shepherd’s pie before, and I actually had it built up in my head as this complicated process, but reading her recipe made it seem very easy and straightforward. Also, I knew this recipe always used mashed potatoes on top, but it never occurred to me to replace that with sweet potato, so this intrigued me. And we’ve gotten used to using ground turkey and chicken in place of beef lately, so I figured we’d have that on hand.
What did I change?
And no sooner had I assumed we’d have the groceries I needed did I find out we didn’t actually have any ground turkey left, go figure. But we did have ground beef, and ground meat is ground meat I say. I had thawed 2 pounds of it so I decided to double the recipe.
In terms of veggies, this recipes calls for random frozen veggies, and all I had were frozen peas so in they went. To up the veggie content, I decided to add a ton of fresh spinach; I probably used at least 6 giant handfuls of the stuff, and I think I could have used much more than that because it wilts down so much and we could hardly tell that it was in there.
And finally in terms of the veggies I replaced the parsnip with carrots because I just didn’t have any parsnips on hand. I really like parsnips though, so I think I’ll have to try this again sometime.
For the sweet potato mash, I used greek yogurt instead of sour cream; a small change, but it’s amazing how greek yogurt really is almost identical, and it’s so much better for you! You especially don’t notice the difference with something like this.
The only other thing I changed was to use dried rosemary instead of fresh; I know, I know, fresh tastes so much better, but you use what you have on hand! I actually don’t like to buy fresh herbs (shock and dismay!) because the grocery stores always sell it in a much larger chunk than I actually need, and the rest ends up going bad in my fridge: so wasteful!
What did I learn?
Like I said, I’d never made shepherd’s pie before, and the first thing I learned from reading the recipe was that it really wasn’t as daunting a task as I’d thought it was going to be. It’s just a casserole after all, so the spices, for example, are fairly straightforward.
I also learned a handy trick with boiling any potatoes, not just sweet potatoes: add a few cloves of garlic to them before boiling. Wow, did that ever give the potatoes an amazing flavour! I’d only ever added minced garlic to potatoes afterwards in the mashing process, but this way was much faster and yielded a better garlic flavour, in my opinion. As you can see, I used a tad more garlic than it called for… ha ha.
The only other thing I’ll mention, though it isn’t exactly something I learned, is the idea that paprika really has no flavour to it. This recipe called for sprinkling it on top and I thought, here now! If it’s sprinkled on top then the flavour will be obvious and I’ll finally find out what paprika actually tastes like! No luck there, I’m afraid. I’m convinced more than ever now that paprika really is just a coloured powder for garnish purposes.
This turned out delicious, and the best part is there’s another casserole of it ready to go in my freezer! Doubling recipes makes life so much easier!
Thanks to Gina at Skinnytaste for her inspiring recipes One great thing about checking out her site for recipes is that she also lists the values of carbs, sodium, fat, etc. in the meal (she also lists weight watchers points if you’re into that). The fact that she is so helpful is one of the reasons I keep going back to check out her recipes!
Have you ever set out to make a dish you thought was going to be much more difficult than it really turned out to be?