Monday, November 18, 2013

Taco Shepherd's Pie [Paleo and Gluten-Free]

This post is a long time coming. I've really, really been holding out on you. This Taco Shepherd's Pie is the perfect paleo meal. Easy to make and delicious. It makes a perfect lunch to go (Adam eats it cold) and it reheats well. You should pretty much hate me for not sharing this with you sooner. (Please don't hate me!) And to make matters worse I've frequently mentioned how this dish is in pretty constant rotation at our house and yet it has taken me until now to share it with you. Not because I was trying to perfect it, oh no, this baby was perfect from the get go. But because, this dish always gets gobbled up before I even have a chance to take pictures. And also, because I almost never really follow a "recipe" when I make it, which makes it hard to share the recipe. 

This also made it onto Adam's list of Top Favorite Things I Make! Which is quite an accomplishment considering my husband isn't much to talk about food. I know, such a sad pairing when you are a food blogger. Our dinner conversations usually go like this: Me - "Soooo, what do you think?" Adam - "It's good." Me - "Like good, good? You mean great, right? Like amazing great, right?" Adam - "Sure." Me - "Ok, tell me if it sucks. I can take it." Adam - [surprised] "No! It's good. I really like it! I do." I'm probably scaring you away from all my food right now by making it sound like my very own husband only has average feelings about my cooking. But trust me, he's just not a food lover like you and me. Also, apparently he did a very good job of blocking out his meals from bachelorhood.

Basically, this is my Veggie Packed Taco Meat with my Quick Mashed Sweet Potatoes on top. So easy! I toyed with adding cheddar cheese to the sweet potato mash topping, but in the end I found it wasn't really necessarily and didn't enhance the flavor any. I recommend serving this with avocado slices, or guacamole. Or if you eat dairy I love a dollop of Greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream on top.

Paleo Taco Shepherd's Pie

Inspired by Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice  
Makes 4-6 Servings

Taco Meat Filling:

1 lb lean grass-fed ground beef (or turkey!)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper (any color), finely chopped
2 carrots, shredded (using a food processor or hand held cheese grater)
1 large zucchin, shredded (using a food processor or hand held cheese grater)
1 teaspoon olive oil 
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes and green chiles
1/2  packet Trader Joe's taco seasoning OR 1 packets your favorite seasoning OR make your own seasoning
1/2  (6 oz) can tomato paste (you may use less depending on your taste)*
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste if needed 
1/4 cup water (if needed)

Heat a large pan on the stove. Prep your veggies. Dice your onion and bell pepper. Using a fine grater, shred your carrots and zucchini.

Add the teaspoon of olive oil to the pan and allow to heat up. Add the onions, bell pepper, and carrots to the pan. I then immediately add the meat to the pan and allow the fat from the meat to help cook the veggies. Using a spatula to break up the meat as you go.

Once the meat is browned, drain the fat off the meat if needed. Add the shredded zucchini. Stir. Add the can of fire roasted tomatoes and green chiles and your seasoning mix. Stir.

Add the tomato paste and water if needed. I often just add the tomato paste and stir well and find that the juices from the fire roasted tomatoes are enough to mix the paste in. But if you are having trouble mixing in your tomato paste, add 1/4 cup water. You may want to start with a spoonful of tomato paste, taste, and add more as you like.  

Let simmer for 3-5 minutes to get the flavors to mingle. Place meat in a medium glass baking dish. An 8x11 2 quart baking dish works well. 

Sweet Potato Topping:

2 medium sweet potatoes 
1/4 cup greek yogurt (or you could use a couple tablespoons of chicken broth or coconut milk if you are avoiding dairy)
dash of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Bake sweet potatoes in oven at 350 until tender and soft. Scoop out the flesh of the baked sweet potatoes and add to a bowl. Add spices and greek yogurt if using. Mash with a fork, wooden spoon or potato masher until a smooth consistency is reached. If you are forgoing the dairy add chicken broth or coconut milk a tablespoon at a time until you get the desired consistency you like. 

Using a rubber spatula spread the mashed sweet potatoes over the taco meat evenly. Bake in a 350 degree pre-heating oven for 30 min. Top with sliced green onions and serve with guacamole, sour cream, or greek yogurt as a sour cream substitute. 

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