Until I saw all the delicious recipes showing up in my Google Reader this afternoon, I completely forgot that today is the 2nd Annual Fall Festival Recipe Exchange, hosted by My Friend Amy.
So, because I'm obviously unprepared, I'm going to resort to sharing a recipe for Shepherd's Pie that I've already published on this blog ... but since it was back on December 19, 2008 when I had been blogging all of four months and had maybe four readers, chances are it is new to you. There's also a good chance that it will make its way onto our menu soon, because I've had a craving for this over the past week or so.
Shepherd's Pie is one of my favorite fall comfort foods, but since we're vegetarian, I don't make it in the traditional way with ground beef. It was just fine with the vegetarian ground beef. The recipe below is based on this one from Rachael Ray.
2 pounds small yellow-fleshed potatoes, halved (I was lazy and used instant.)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
10 ounces cremini mushroom slices (none at the farm ... I used regular white button mushrooms instead)
2 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces (I used a handful or two of baby carrots)
2 parsnips, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 pound 93-percent lean ground beef (I used Boca Burger vegetarian ground beef)
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups beef broth (I used vegetable broth)
1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes (I used 1/2 c. of leftover marinara sauce)
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup 2-percent milk
1 1/2 pounds baby spinach (I used half a bag of frozen cut spinach)
1. In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes and enough salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to the pot; cover. (Because I was using the instant mashed potatoes, I skipped this step.)
2. In a large, deep skillet, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over high heat, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes.
Arrange in a greased 9-by- 13-inch baking dish in an even layer. In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, parsnips and onion and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, 6 to 7 minutes.
Add the beef and cook, breaking it up, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in the flour.
Add the beef broth and tomatoes and simmer, stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Ladle the meat mixture over the mushrooms. Reserve the skillet.
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400°. Add the milk to the potatoes and mash. Season with salt and pepper. (This was where I improvised and made the instant mashed potatoes. And then I remembered that there was some leftover corn in the fridge from Taco Night, so I dumped the corn on top of the mixture too. If you haven't figured it out yet, this is an easily-adaptable dish. )
In the reserved skillet, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook, turning, until wilted, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a colander; press to extract any liquid. (I microwaved our frozen spinach. Turned out great!)
Arrange the spinach over the meat mixture, then spoon the potatoes on top. Drizzle with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.
Bake until golden, about 25 minutes.
I thought this was delicious. It provided that comfort-food goodness that I was craving, but in a healthier version. Rachael Ray's version doesn't give the cholesterol counts, but if you follow her directions instead of my variations, a serving is 311 calories, there's 7g. of fat, and 2 g. of saturated fat. The Husband also liked this, but said he could do with fewer vegetables. (He suggested eliminating the parsnips. I think this might be because I told him they were included.)
I think that this could be made ahead of time and just put into the oven. If I make this again (which I am inclined to do), and if it is on a weeknight, I will likely try it that way.
For more details on how you can participate in the Fall Festival Recipe Exchange or to check out the other recipes, click here.