If you love comfort food as much as we do and are eating the Paleo way, you will love this recipe! You won’t even miss the regular version. The recipe may look long and labor intensive, but it was rather easy to prepare. The longest part is roasting the squash ahead of time. Also, it yields a lot, making two 9X13 casseroles, because we had 3 lbs of ground turkey to use.
3 lbs ground meat. We like 85/15 turkey, as it has great flavor.
1 branch of fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped; ½ t dried
2 bell peppers, seeded and diced
2 summer squash (yellow, Zucchini, etc.), or whatever veggies you want to use, diced
Splash of red wine
4 Tbsp tomato paste
A few splashes of Worcestershire sauce (if you’re hard-core Paleo, skip)
2+ cups of stock (veggie, chicken, beef… whatever you want)
1-4 Tbsp spices and herbs that you like (you’ll want to season at every step, as you’ll be adding liquid)
Pinch of salt and pepper to taste
At least 1½ to 2 hours before prepping the rest of the pie, preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the oiled squash halves cut-face-up on a sheet, pan, or layer of foil laid right on the oven rack. Bake until they’re getting a little brown at the edges, and are easily pierced with a fork (45+ minutes, depending on the size of the squash. Ours took an hour). Remove from the oven and let cool out of the way.
Once the squash halves are cool, scoop out the flesh into a bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste, and mash well.
Set oven to pre-heat to 400°F.
In a large pot over medium-high heat, saute onions, garlic, and mushrooms in the olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and herbs/spices. Cook until they start to get tender, and remove to a large bowl.
Add a splash of oil to the pot, and add ground meat and rosemary. Break up meat and season, cooking until cooked through. (If you want the meat to brown, cook it in a wider, shallower pan, and remember to cook off the good, brown bits with some liquid and add back into the mix!) Remove to the bowl with the onion mix.
Saute bell peppers and squash/veggies with some olive oil, and season well. Cook until just tender. The bottom of the pot might get really dark. This is great, just don’t let it burn.
Add the meat and onion mixture back to the pot, along with all of the wonderful liquid. Add the wine, tomato paste, and Worcestershire. Mix well, until tomato paste has dissolved. Add just enough stock to make the mix light and stir-friendly. You don’t want soup. (We needed 2½ C of chicken stock.)
Once the contents starts simmering, lower the heat until you maintain a light simmer for 10 minutes, or so, stirring occasionally. The sauce should thicken, and flavors should meld. All that beautiful brown stuff from the bottom of the pot should be making amazing, rich flavors, at this point.
Season one last time, if needed.
Mix one egg into the mashed squash.
Pour ½ of the meat mix into each of the (ungreased) casserole dishes (we used two 9x13 glass dishes), and cover with spoonfuls of the mashed squash. Smooth out mashed squash, or texture the top to promote browning.
Bake for 20 minutes, and check the dishes. If the sides and bottoms are bubbling well and the top isn’t browned, you can broil it (we were too hungry and impatient to wait for it to brown more than a little). Don’t broil until you’re seeing some good bubbling.
Once the Shepherd pies are done, remove from the oven and let rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Top with avocado slices and salsa or hot sauce of your choice!
This makes two casseroles. Eat one tonight, and freeze the other for when you need a quick meal. Feel free to add more veggies if you want this to be a true one-pot meal. You could probably substitute other types of squash for the Kuri, or starchy sweet potatoes. The red kuri squash was from a local farm and fresh, so it was chopped and bopped. We only had one squash, but two would give a much better topping.