Monday, February 6, 2012

Healthy Turkey Shepherd's Pie

Everybody loves comfort food—not everybody loves what it can do to their waistline.

I must confess here that Shepherd's Pie, a dish that dates back to the 1700's, is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. There's something about the thick layer of mashed potatoes atop the comforting mixture of meat, vegetables, and gravy that makes it irresistible.

It's winter. I was craving it. Enough was enough.

Last night, I had to take matters into my own hands.

And here's the result—a healthy take on this classic dish that is so delicious, you won't notice what's missing (hint: butter, cream, and red meat). And my additions, like smoked paprika and tons of veggies, actually improve upon the original (if you ask me).

For my protein, I chose lean, ninety-nine percent fat free ground turkey. This also makes this dish very friendly to your wallet (in addition to your waistline).

Without further ado, here's the dish that I made last night. I hope that you love it as much as I do.

Healthy Turkey Shepherd's Pie
Serves 8-10 people
Cooking time: about one hour

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 1 bunch of carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme 
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 recipe Healthy Mashed Potatoes

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. To make the filling, heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Brown the turkey until cooked through (about five minutes).
  3. Add the onion, carrots, and zucchini and cook until beginning to soften (about 5 minutes). Then, add the garlic, paprika, and thyme and cook for one more minute. 
  4. Add the red wine and cook for a few minutes, until it's mostly reduced and absorbed. 
  5. Stir in the flour.
  6. Add the the peas, corn, and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for about five to seven minutes, until the stock reduces and thickens slightly.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
  8. To assemble the Shepherd's Pie, transfer the filling into an oven proof dish. Spread the mashed potatoes over the top. Sprinkle with a little paprika if desired.
  9. Bake for about 20 minutes until the dish is burbling and the potatoes have set. Remove from the oven. Serve family style or spoon into bowls. Enjoy!


  1. This looks delicious! And I agree, it sounds like perfect winter food (even though it's not all that cold where I live...I still grew up in cold places, so my stomach still thinks like it used to!). Thanks for posting!

    My only suggestion: you use "ancient" in this and another recent post, and ancient really applies to things much, much older than what you're referring to - at least for this application, I think. If you disagree, that's OK, too!

    1. Thanks for your comment—glad you like the recipe! We've been eating for days. It's even better leftover.

      As for the use of 'ancient,' I actually think that it works with the definition that you sent (defined as "having had an existence for many years" and also as "having qualities of age or long existence").

      This dish dates back over two hundred years (which seems really old to me). Of course, I do see your point. Perhaps I shall amend it to say only when it came about (the date), which is more precise anyway.