Turkey and Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

I saw some recipes online for turkey and sweet potato shepherd’s pie.  I loved the idea of the lighter filling, and more healthful topping.  I have never made one of these for dinner, so I was looking forward to trying it.  But the reviews from the recipes I found online were not encouraging.  Most found it underflavored, and bland.  Turkey can be like that sometimes.  So I set out to make one that would be tasty and exciting, by turning to my Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook.  Ottolenghi just packs his dishes with so much flavor, I knew I could find a winning combination and my shepherd’s pie  ended up with a delicious middle Eastern flair.  Don’t be intimidated by the two steps!  This dish comes together quickly and easily! Serve with some steamed broccoli if you feel you need another veggie!

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Turkey and Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Spanish onion, chopped fine

1 1/2 tsp. cumin

1 1/2 Tbsp. paprika

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

4 lbs. ground turkey

2 Tbsp. tamarind paste (can omit)

3 Tbsp. tomato paste

2 Tbsp. all purpose flour (for thickening)

4 C. frozen vegetables (as desired)

5 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

2 Tbsp. Earth’s Balance spread (or margarine)

1/3 C. rice milk, or other non-dairy liquid

1 tsp. salt

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Saute the onion until soft, and add the spices.  Stir for a minute or two, until fragrant.  Add the ground turkey, and, with a wooden spatula, break up the pieces of turkey as it cooks, incorporating all the onion and spices.  After the turkey is completely browned, add the tamarind and tomato paste.

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The turkey will have given off some water and fat, and there should liquid at the bottom of the pan.  Push the turkey away from one side of the pan, and sprinkle in the 2 tablespoons of flour, quickly stirring with spoon to incorporate into liquid to thicken.  Combine the sauce with the rest of the turkey.  Taste mixture and adjust seasonings to your liking i.e. salt and/or pepper.  Spread the turkey mixture into a 9 x 13 pyrex baking dish.

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Layer the vegetables on top to cover the meat.

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Sweet potato topping:  Place the sweet potato chunks into a 4 quart saucepan.  and fill with water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil, and cook until soft.  Depending on how big your potato chunks are, this could take 10 minutes, but check, because you don’t want the potatoes to fall apart.  They are ready when easily pierced with a fork.  Drain the potatoes and put into a large bowl.  Throw the chunk of Earth’s Balance onto the hot potato so that it melts.  Smash up the potatoes with a fork, until all the chunks are broken up.  Add the rice milk and combine.  Season with salt.  Spoon the sweet potato over the vegetable layer.  You can be fancy and do this with a piping tip, or just smooth with a fork, like I did.

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Place dish in a preheated oven for 30 minutes, to heat through and give the potatoes a little color.  Broil for 5 minutes so that edges turn brown and crispy.  It doesn’t slice nicely like a meatloaf, so spoon out carefully with a spatula to maintain layers.  Enjoy!

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