My family lived in England for one year when I was in 5th grade. It was a wonderful experience! My parents took us into London frequently so see musicals like Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat (I desperately wanted to be one of the little kids in a colored t-shirt). My dad let me ride “the tube” around London by myself (yes, in 5th grade!) and my entire school class spent a long weekend on the Isle of Wight.
One thing I don’t remember us doing was eating out. When we moved there my parents were toting around 3 kids under the age of 12 and we quickly learned that children are not welcome in most pubs. This might have changed in the meantime, but at that time we were literally told “you can’t eat here.” Pretty weird feeling!
The English aren’t exactly known for their cuisine so maybe it was for the best. I haven’t eaten a lot of British food so I can’t confirm it from first-hand experience. All I know is Jamie Oliver has some pretty awesome cookbooks so maybe it’s all just a bloody lie.
Last week I must have been channeling my lost English pub meals when I decided a total fridge clean out was in order.
I put every vegetable I had along with a package of local Lincolnshire sausages on my kitchen counter and stared at it. I decided chopping and sautéing was in order but I had no plan for the end result. Sometimes, you don’t need a plan or a recipe to come up with something amazing!
When I presented the finished product to Mr. Wes he looked skeptical and immediately asked “what’s this?” My first thought was “casserole” but I hesitated. If I had called it that his hesitation would have grown. So I quickly said, “it’s shepherd’s pie!” with a proud smile on my face. He took one bite, and then another, looked at me and said “this is REALLY good!”
It’s all about presentation my friends!
If you have a meat loving man in your life this is THE ticket. He gets his meat AND a load of veggies to boot. You get 2-3 meals in one go! Win-win!
Use whatever veggies you have on hand to create your filling. If you don’t have sausage try pastured ground beef or pork. This is just a guideline – let your imagination run with it. I used a grain topping of millet and amaranth instead of the traditional white mashed potatoes. This lends a nice crunch and adds some great fiber and B vitamins. We ate this over two days but I’m pretty confident this would freeze very well. Enjoy!
Super Simple Shepherd’s Pie
For the topping
½ cup millet
½ cup amaranth
pinch of salt
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
For the filling
2 leeks, washed
3 medium carrots
3 stalks celery
2 cups shiitake mushrooms
4-5 small potatoes
2 cups Swiss chard or kale
4 sausages of choice, casing removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin organic olive oil, ghee or lard
1 cup water
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons tamari
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the millet and amaranth in a rice cooker. Add salt and 2 cups of water. Turn on and let cook until grains are fully cooked.
- Cut leeks in half lengthwise and slice into half moons, about the thickness of a pencil. Use white and light green parts. Wash and peel carrots. Cut in half lengthwise and the slice into half moons about twice the thickness of a pencil. Chop the celery and slice the mushrooms. Peel and cut potatoes into pieces just a bit larger than bite-sized. Roughly chop Swiss chard.
- Heat oil in a deep saucepan or pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, carrots, celery, mushrooms and potatoes with a generous pinch of salt. Stir until well combined, cover and let cook 5-6 minutes until vegetables start to soften, stirring one or twice in between. Add the sausage and cook another 3-4 minutes until sausage begins to cook through.
- In a small bowl combine water, arrowroot powder and tamari. Whisk until well combined and pour over vegetable sausage mixture. The arrowroot mixture will start to thicken. If it gets too thick add a bit more water. Cook 1-2 minutes then pour everything into a large glass baking dish.
- When the millet and amaranth are done, stir in parsley and season with another pinch of salt. Spread evenly over the vegetable mixture. Bake for 20 minutes. If you want a browner top place briefly under the broiler. Enjoy!
Recipe inspired by Clean Food by Terry Walters