This unusual shepherd's pie is really delicious. I was a little skeptical when I first saw the recipe because I just wasn't sure if everything would "go" together--but the flavors complement each other perfectly. I've made it a couple of times, once with all beef and again with a combination of beef and veal. Both options were fantastic. This dish is nice because it's really a full meal in one pan - meat plus lots of veggies. Although there are two components - the meat-veggie filling and the sweet potato topping - the dish does come together fairly quickly because the potatoes can be boiling while you prepare the filling. Definitely a keeper!
Mediterranean Shepherd's Pie (adapted from Karina's Kitchen, original recipe here)
For the topping:
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
A dash of nutmeg
A drizzle of olive oil, to taste
Milk, as needed
For the filling:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef or a mixture of ground beef and ground lamb
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 small to medium zucchini, trimmed, cubed
1 cup artichoke hearts, cut into pieces if whole
1 14-oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles (Muir Glen makes a good version)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1-2 teaspoons honey or brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley or cilantro
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and ground pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place the sweet potatoes in a pot of fresh salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until under fork tender and mashable.
3. Meanwhile, saute the ground meat in a large hot skillet until lightly browned. Pour off the fat and return the skillet to the stove. Add the onions and garlic; stir and cook for five minutes or until the onions are soft.
4. Add the zucchini; stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the artichokes and tomatoes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar,honey or sugar, dried herbs and cinnamon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid is reduced a bit and everything is nicely tender. Remove from heat.
5. Drain the cooked sweet potatoes and mash them lightly. Season with sea salt, ground pepper and nutmeg. Drizzle with a little fruity olive oil. Add a couple of tablespoons of milk and stir until smooth and fluffy.
6. Layer the beef and veggie mixture in a casserole or baking dish. Top with the mashed sweet potatoes.
7. Bake in the center of a preheated oven until bubbling and hot- about 25 minutes. If the top starts to brown too soon, you can cover it with a piece of aluminum foil.