Easy Weeknight Meal: Shepherd’s Pie and Sauteed Zucchini

Chef Confession:  I don’t like to cook EVERY  single evening for dinner.  I’m tired after the work day and want something simple I can reheat that’s nutritious, filling and homemade.  Shepherd’s Pie with a side of sauteed zucchini gets the job done and it feeds for days!

I’m a big fan of casserole dishes that have some combination of protein, vegetables, carbohydrates and fiber.  Shepherd’s pie has:

Veggies:  Onion, carrot and peas which together have nutrients including:  Vitamin K (good for your blood), Vitamin A and Beta Carotene  (good for your eyes) and Vitamin C (good for your immune system)
Protein:  Ground Beef 90-95% lean, which is great for your muscles and low in animal fat
Carbohydrates:  Provides you with energy replenishment
Fiber:  Good for your digestive system & reduces your insulin release for more sustained energy

Shepherd’s Pie is a classic dish from England composed of a meaty, savory filling topped with gravy, mashed potatoes and then baked to golden perfection.  It’s meat, potatoes and veggies all warped together.

How I Make It Healthier

For my own healthy, weeknight version I made a few substitutions:

  • No Gravy.  This helps eliminate some fat and it stills tastes delicious.
  • Lean Ground Beef.  I substitute lean ground beef with lamb because it’s easier to find, inexpensive and healthy
  • No Butter or Heavy Cream  I removed most of the buttery, creamy elements traditionally from in mashed potatoes and instead just use a splash of milk

Zucchini is a perfect, easy side dish you can make while the pie is baking.  This recipes served my girlfriend and I for 2.5 dinners or about 5 adult servings.  Here’s how you make it!

Healthy Shepherd’s Pie with Sauteed Zucchini (Full Meal in 1 hr)

zucchini shepard pie closeup

Serves 5-6.  Active Time: 30 min.  Total Time: 60 min

Ingredients

  • 2 lb russet potatoes, peeled
  • 2 lb ground beef 90-95% lean
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 egg
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 lb zucchini
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3-4 Tbs whole milk
  • Olive Oil
  • Kosher and ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Cut the potato into 1″ pieces, so they cook faster.   Add 2 Tbs of salt into the boiling water, then add the potatoes, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until a fork can easily pass through the potatoes.  Drain and place in a bowl.  Add milk, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, egg, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper and mash with a potato masher until it becomes mashed potatoes.

As the potatoes cook, heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add 2 Tbs oil, carrots and onion.   Cook for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are tender, stirring frequently.  Add half the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the ground beef and cook for 6-7 minutes until the beef is cooked and nicely browned, stirring frequently.   Add the Worcestershire Sauce, peas and stir for 2-3 minutes.  Remove to a bowl.

In a square, oven-proof casserole dish, about 8″ x 8″ add the ground beef.   Top with mashed potatoes and use a spatula to make it even on top.  Top with Parmesan cheese and bake in the middle of the oven for 15-20 minutes.  If the top isn’t nicely browned, you can place it near the broiler for 3-5 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

While the shepherd pie bakes, chop the zucchini into circles, about 1/2″ thick.

In a large frying pan, add 3 Tbs oil over medium heat.  Add the remaining garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the zucchini and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently until the zucchini is slightly browned and cooked through.

On a plate serve a portion of the shepherd’s pie and a scoop of zucchini.  Enjoy!

Leftovers can be reheated and eaten for 3-4 days!

Plan Ahead Tip:  Make two shepherd’s pie and place one in an aluminum baking dish and freeze it.  Reheat in an oven at 350°F for about 20-30 minutes and you now have dinner ready at any moment.  Doubling recipes is the way to go!

So good, there won't be many leftovers

So good, there won’t be many leftovers

Eating shepard's pie

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