This was a staple in my family when I was a young ‘un, the mince and spud variety anyway. I was inspired by many a food blogger to have a play with this classic dish, I have forgotten where exactly, but I hope you know who you are!
I can eat alot of mash, it’s so more-ish, so I have included sweet potato to mix with the normal spuds. This makes for a slightly healthier mash and has vibrant colours with the rich, smooth texture of the sweet orange ones.
I’ve named this a shepherds pie, but it only resembles it in the technique of cooking. The colours and flavours are more vibrant in the veggie variety (I think!).
The occasion was a gardening visit by Jane’s Mum and Dad, Joyce and Keith. We had a full day of house sorting, managing to fix the fire and the strimmer and much more. We needed some rich and hearty grub and this hit the spot. I know that Jane’s Mum and Dad have slightly sweeter tooth, which meant the sweet pots and sweetcorn in this recipe were ideal. I would normally tone down the cheese, it is great without dairy, but I find a good lump of cheese sates those who normally have meat as a rule.
I would always used fresh tomatoes if available, but a good tin of organic toms will suit this dish fine. They are normally sweeter and give a nice red colour to the sauce. Just replace the toms here with one tin.
Most of these ingredients came from our local farm shop Hooton’s Homegrown. Until our garden starts producing some vegetables, we are lucky to have them so close. There carrots are amazing and really made this dish.
Save all stock here and cooking juice for soup making and the stew, you can mix them together to make a great base stock for later. Vegans, you know the drill, replace the butter and cheese with something like olive oil etc, maybe some tofu cream would be nice as a topping.
2 sweet potatoes, 3 white potatoes (scrubbed and cut into chunks, gauge quantity of pots by the number of mouths to feed), 2 cups of dried butter beans, 3 cloves garlic (chopped), zest of 1 lemon (finely chopped), 1 teas paprika, 1 big onion (chopped), 4 fat carrots (scrubbed and roughly chopped), 150g (several large handfuls) spinach, 1 can sweetcorn (fresh if you can), several good knobs of butter, glug of cooking oil (you choose which), 3 handfuls of cherry tomatoes and 250g tomato passata (one good tin toms is acceptable), 4 teaspoons of fresh thyme (or dried mixed herb), 3 nice knobs of butter, 3 decent handfuls of mature cheddar cheese, 2 cups of good veg stock, 2 bay leaves.
Soak butter beans overnight, covered with 1 inch of water. Bring to boil, skim of the white scum and simmer gently with lid on for 45 minutes, or until tender to the bite. Drain and set aside (keeping cooking water).
Get your chopped potatoes in a pan with some cold, slightly salted water and bring to the boil. Lower heat to a gentle boil and cook for 20 mins, or until tender. Drain (saving stock) and put back into warm pan, season and mix in a handful of the cheddar cheese and a knob of butter. Mash it up in the pan (saves on washing up) until creamy and smooth. Set aside.
Whilst all that is going on, you probably have time to start the stew base of the pie. Fry off the onions until soft on medium heat with a knob of butter and a glug of oil, then add the garlic and carrots, thyme/mixed herbs and bay leaves, stir well and cook for 5 minutes. Add paprika, lemon zest, corn and beans, stir in for a few minutes, then add the toms and passata, bring to the boil and add the stock. Stir in and leave on a steady simmer for 30 mins, until cooked down and approaching stickiness. I like to stir in a tablespoon of the mash to make the sauce nice and thick. Don’t overcook the carrots, remember they’ll be cooked further in the oven.
Pre-heat an oven to 200oC.
In a large baking dish, pour out your sauce into the base, sprinkle over a good thick covering of spinach leaves to form a thick layer (remember it’s a serious wilter) then scoop the mash into the centre and using a spatula or big spoon, gently smooth out to the corners, making sure that it meets all edges. Sprinkle on top as much cheddar as you deem necessary and a dusting of mixed herbs/ thyme.
Place on a tray and into the oven on a middle shelf. Cook until a gentle bubbling appears at the edges and cheese is golden brown, should take around 20-30 minutes.
Place in the middle of your table and spoon out carefully onto plates (unlike we did! See photo). Great served with a crunchy salad, we made a simple salad of sprouting mung beans (we just has a bumper crop, see more of our sprouting antics here) with a lemon vinegar dressing.
We Love It!
This is a real cheesy filler. We love the contrast of vibrant colours, the layers of red sauce, green spinach and orange mash.
Sprouts are the freshest vegetable available, we eat them as they are sprouting! Find our more on this great healthy eating website.