Root Vegetable Shepard’s Pie

April 9, 2015


{Alternate Post Title: The dinner everyone will love. Kids. Picky Paleo Husbands. Everyone.}

It’s Spring (technically!) – almost time for asparagus, and fiddle head ferns, and after that tomatoes…but here in New England, there is still this pesky white stuff coming down. All over our yard. So we’re still craving some comfort food.

After I got back from my trip to Puerto Rico (which was every bit as restorative and relaxing as you can imagine. Check out my upcoming post about what I’ve been reading on which was brought to you by my vacation) I wanted to show a little love to my family and was really inspired to make a comfort food dinner.

I had been dreaming of putting a twist on the one Alton Brown makes (which for the record is my favorite original Shepard’s Pie recipe) by using more root vegetables instead of the traditional peas and corn. I think the best outcome of eating the whole foods/Paleo diets is you really do start to crave rich, hearty vegetables. So I mixed the mashed potatoes with rutabaga (so delicious!):


and I mixed the lamb meat mixture with carrots, parsnips, and celery root.



The results were so soul satisfying and healthy and everyone licked their bowls clean. IMG_5625 IMG_5628IMG_5637

You can very easily substitute any root vegetable in this recipe – and I usually use celery root with the potatoes so that is definitely a win but the rutabaga was incredible. IMG_5642

I think this may have to become a spring time tradition, since these ingredients really are eating seasonally – root veggies are still being harvested and lamb just says spring. You can easily substitute beef (or mushrooms if you want to go meatless) for the lamb.

Hope you try this for your peeps today – it is so easy and you get to clean up while it cooks so you can spend time with the people you love. Bonus: This might have just bought me my next vacation since everyone knows they’ll eat well when I get back.


Root Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie (printer version here):




For the potatoes:

1 pound russet potatoes, cubed

1 pound rutabaga, cubed

1/2 cup milk (or half & half)

2 ounces unsalted butter

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 egg yolk


For the meat filling:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 carrots, peeled and diced small

2 parsnips, peeled and diced small

1 small celery root, diced small

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 pounds ground lamb

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons tomato paste

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves



Peel the potatoes and rutabaga and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Place the milk and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes/rutabaga mixture in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onions, carrots and parsnips and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potato/rutabaga mixture, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

(Adapted from Alton Brown’s Shepards Pie recipe found at

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