A Tasty, Beefless Shepherd’s Pie

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - February 08, 2006
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Jim Curtice has lived in Hawaii since 1941. On Dec. 7, 1941 Jim’s father, Capt. Alfred Curtice, was on the Navy ship that spotted the Japanese mini sub in Pearl Harbor.

Jim, now retired, taught economics, history, guidance and Spanish at Castle High School. His passion is the study of foreign languages and he speaks Spanish, French, German, Italian and some Japanese. His hobbies include keeping up on world affairs, and he is quite a good cook as well. Jim also keeps himself in shape both mentally and physically by reading voraciously and exercising regularly. This is dedicated to Jim, one of Hawaii’s retired public schoolteachers.

I get so many requests for this low-fat shepherd’s pie, as it doesn’t contain any beef and is so tasty it pleases even the most discriminating palates.

Traditional shepherd’s pie is made with meat, but I have created this alternative to using the meat with excellent results.

Shepherd’s pie was originally created as an economical way to use leftovers from the Sunday roast, and the Scottish classic version is made with lamb (hence the name). In England and Ireland, the dish is served at just about every pub. The traditional English version of shepherd’s pie uses gravy to flavor the meat, which is often ground mutton or lamb, and there are those who are firm in their belief that it is called shepherd’s pie when made with lamb, and cottage pie when made with beef. Most American recipes for shepherd’s pie use ground beef.

There are many recipes for shepherd’s pie. They range from using leftover roast leg of lamb with its pan gravy, and carrots, peas or corn, which are topped with mashed potatoes and baked in an oven. Other methods use cooked diced roast beef, diced steak or ground lamb. All are topped with mashed potatoes and baked.

I like to serve this dish with a crisp green salad, and some brown bread or crusty rolls. Try some vanilla pudding made with low-fat or skim-milk for dessert; top each dish of pudding with a dollop of raspberry jam and some light whipped topping.


* 3 large uncooked potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces, boil and mash with 1/4 cup skim milk and 1 tablespoon Smart Balance light margarine, adding salt to taste, set aside.
Note: You may also use the instant dried potato flakes to make six servings.
* 2 cups frozen peas and carrots, defrosted in microwave
* 2 packages frozen Boca burger meat substitute, or 1 pound ground turkey breast
* 2 teaspoons olive oil
* 1 cup Maui onion, chopped fine
* 3 cloves minced garlic
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and salt, to taste
* 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
* 1 can vegetable broth, low-salt, no msg
* 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour mixed with a tablespoon of broth until smooth
* paprika, for top

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute for about three minutes or until soft. Add meat substitute or turkey, and cook until warmed through and lightly browned. Add pepper, salt and parsley, and mix to combine. Add broth and stir in, then add the flour mixture and cook until sauce starts to thicken.

Transfer mixture to a casserole dish, spread vegetables evenly on top, and spread mashed potatoes over top, covering the vegetables completely.

Make swirls on top with a fork and sprinkle with paprika. Bake 35 minutes, until potatoes are lightly browned.

Makes six servings.

Approximate Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 320 Fat: 6 grams Cholesterol: 40 milligrams (if using turkey)

Sodium: about 200 milligrams (depending on how much salt you add)

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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