I don’t understand this war against sweet potatoes. Many people claim to dislike them, saying they are too sweet or too hard or what have you. All of this is just ridiculous, of course. Sweet potatoes are wonderfully versatile.
I think I’ll share a few uses for sweet potatoes with you, starting with this shepherd’s pie. With my boyfriend wanting to go vegetarian again, I decided to pull out a few savory recipes to satisfy my lust for flavor. Vegetarian cooking doesn’t have to be bland and uninteresting. Unfortunately vegetarianism is often coupled with an obsession for natural flavors.
Pick up the salt and pepper, hippies, seriously. Carrots are delicious and all that, but I need a little salt to stay interested.
You won’t find a lack of flavor in the recipes I share. I’m making shepherd’s pie as I type this. The Co-op were I live had a special on baby Japanese turnips. While one bundle of those isn’t enough for what I’m making, they add a lovely floral aftertaste to the rest of the turnips I’m using. This recipe also works well with any assortment of spring-time root vegetables you’d like to use.
Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato topping:
2 large sweet potatoes (always make more mash than you think you’ll be using)
1/4 milk (I use almond milk because it adds a subtle nutty flavor)
1. Tbs Butter (optional)
1/4 Tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp. Nutmeg
1 medium onion
2 Shallots or other oniony item of your choice
2 carrots, diced
1-2 Turnips depending on size
Thyme (fresh or dried)
Rosemary ( fresh or dried)
1 can white beans
1/4 Mirin (I like to use mirin because of the sweetness, but white wine or water also works.)
1 cup vegetable stock
Make the sweet potato topping first. Chop the potatoes up and boil them for about 10 minutes. Strain them and put them in a medium-sized bowl. Mash with a fork, folding in the milk, butter, and spices. Be sure to add just a little salt here, even if you salted the water. They can get very bland after you mash them and you don’t want a blanket of blandness on the top of your shepherd’s pie.
Once mashed, set them aside.
Saute the onions and shallots until tender. Add in the chopped turnips and carrots and let them simmer together until they start to soften. Add the spices at this point too.
Add the 1/4 cup mirin and the white beans. let this simmer for a few minutes then add the vegetable stock. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Let it all cook together for about 5-7 minutes before dumping it all into a medium casserole dish. I use a 8X9 dish.
Spread the mashed sweet potatoes over the top and sprinkle with your favorite cheese if you want.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes on a baking tray. It likes to bubble over so be careful.