Today, it rained. From the moment I woke up to drops pelting my air condtioning unit, to 7 P.M., when I dragged my drowned-rat hair and squeaky rain boots up the stairs and into my warm apartment.
On a cold rainy night, after a particularly long and trying day, I, like most people, crave comfort food. What I consider comfort food, moreso than chocolate or ice cream or stereotypically soothing bad-for-you treats, I crave meals that I ate frequently as a kid. Specifically, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup and sometimes, Shepherds Pie.
Usually, when I see a one-dish meal recipe that I can’t wait to try, I hold off until I’m cooking dinner for friends or spending a weekend with my family, to make anything in the casserole family. Shepherds Pie seems like a famliy meal, so I’ve resisted making it on my own, but it can easily live in the freezer for a quick reheated lunch. I’m sure there are ways to turn this into some sort of soup or stew if you were feeling really ambitious, but I’m more of a freeze-and-reheater than an experiment-with-the-crockpotter.
Shepherds Pie wasn’t even a favorite of mine growing up – I liked it enough to eat it – but it’s a favorite of my mother’s and therefore a usual suspect in the dinner lineup. We used to eat it with a condiment called Saucy Susan, which I thought was a funny name for a sauce. What was it exactly?
In any event Shepherds Pie is just as good without it. I made this from memory, loosely based on the recipe I grew up with. I substituted ground turkey for beef and threw in whatever veggies I had in the house. Though I kept it simple, you could probably experiment with seasoning if you like more exotic flavors.
Lighter Shepherds Pie
For mashed potato topping:
1-2 lbs. white russet potatoes (about 4 small potatoes, peeled)
1/4 cup low-fat milk
2 tsp. light butter
1/2 cup RF sour cream
20 oz. lean ground turkey
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 large white onion, chopped
2/3 cup peas (frozen)
1/2 cup yellow corn (fresh or frozen)
2 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a large skillet with PAM and sautee garlic and onion until tender. Add ground turkey and cook until meat is no longer pink. When turkey begins to brown, add chopped carrots, peas and corn.
2. Meanwhile, boil peeled potatoes over high heat until tender. When potatoes are soft to the touch when poked with a fork, drain water and return to pot. Mash with a potato masher, add milk, butter and sour cream and stir until fully combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. When turkey begins to brown, and vegetables are tender, add tomato sauce and worcestershire to skillet and stir until meat and vegetables are coated with sauce.
4. Transfer the meat/vegetable mixture to a 9×13 glass baking dish and top with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika and bake at for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes are firm and beginning to brown on top.
Serve with a dollop of reduced-fat sour cream and add salt and pepper to taste.
I was worried that this would turn out bland, but it didn’t really even need condiments or seasoning. I cut this into eight pieces so that I could freeze leftovers, but I was hungry enough to go back for seconds. If served with a side salad or another vegetable, I think one serving would be filling enough for most people, making it a healthy, not to mention, budget-friendly, meal.
What are some of your favorite comfort foods? What do you reach into your fridge or cabinets for when it’s gloomy and cold out? Do you have a go-to recipe when the five-day forecast isn’t showing signs of sun for days?