Turkey Shepherd’s Pie is the ultimate comfort food. I crave comfort foods in times of trouble and uncertainty. For me, these foods are cozy meals like this shepherd’s pie, macaroni and cheese, and pot roast. I first featured this recipe on my blog in October of 2012 when we got hit with Hurricane Sandy and were without power for over a week. Now, we are in the midst of a worldwide health crisis, and this shepherd’s pie again comes to mind.
This blog has served as a place for me to record life events as well as share recipes and inspiration for all of you. I first wrote this post in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy. That trying time pails in comparison to what is going on right now in 2020.
Just over two weeks ago, life was “normal” in the US. Since then, life has turned completely upside-down globally due to a disease we know little about.
All schools have been closed since last Thursday, almost everyone is working remotely from home, senior centers and assisted living places are closed to visitors, restaurants are no longer allowed to provide dining in (curbside pickup and delivery only), playgrounds are closed, the YMCA, library, gyms and movie theater are closed. We are being asked to stay home, and practice “social distancing” to “flatten the curve.” There is no vaccination or cure at this point, so the only thing we can do is slow this disease down. Otherwise, our medical facilities will be completely overwhelmed, and unable to handle the volume of people needing care.
These measures might sound extreme, but they are necessary. Many people who don’t think they will get sick have been ignoring the call for “social distancing.” They are not considering that fact that they might get someone else sick, whether it’s an elderly person, a person with a weak autoimmune system, or a child with cancer.
Despite the current situation, I believe tough times like this can bring out the best in people. My prayer is that we as a country, and as a world, will learn to love one another better, be more considerate of others, and help others through this extremely difficult time. Our seniors are being told to stay home and are in need of food and medicine. Schools are closed, and there are children who rely on school meals every day. Local businesses are shut down, and employees may become unemployed. What can each of us do to help? Each of us can do something, no matter how great or small, which can impact the life of another in a positive way.
Hurricane Sandy 2012
This Turkey Shepherd’s Pie is one of the first meals I made after our power was restored last week following Hurricane Sandy. After 8 days without power, I couldn’t wait to cook once again in a warm, lit kitchen. Fortunately, we have a gas stove, so even during the power outage, I could cook using a lighter to ignite the stove. Each day, I would start cooking dinner in the afternoon when it was still light out so that I could have dinner ready before it got dark.
As the days passed, and it became apparent that the power outage was going to go on for longer than expected, I began taking things out of the freezer as they defrosted and using up as much of the food as I could. I began cooking more and more food as the days went on and more items started to defrost. Since it was dark in our home and we had so much food, we began hauling our prepared meals over to our dear friend’s home (they were one of the few families in town that had power) and shared dinner with them, and on occasion with another family that would stop by.
These shared meals were really special – it was so nice to catch up with each others’ lives and to have a little laugh despite the circumstances. In the end, I left a lot of leftovers at my friends’ house who happily accepted them. I am so glad that I could offer something in return for their generosity in opening their home to my large family.
So, back to this Shepherd’s Pie – during one of our dinners at my friends’ home, the topic of Shepherd’s Pie came up and my kids’ ears perked up. I knew that I would have to make this for them once we got power back. When I served this dish to my kids the other night, they were so happy – it was like snuggling on a couch with a warm blanket next to a fireplace.
Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 leek white parts only, washed well and thinly sliced
- 5 medium potatoes peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
- 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- 5 roasted garlic cloves mashed (optional)
Shepherd's Pie Filling
- 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 carrots peeled, minced
- 2 celery stalks trimmed, minced
- 1 leek trimmed and sliced, or 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 8 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 cup frozen peas
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup shredded low-fat cheese
- 2 tablespoons Romano cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat olive oil in a saute pan and add leek; saute until lightly browned and caramelized.
Place potatoes in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil; cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well and place potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Add yogurt and milk; beat until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in mashed roasted garlic cloves (if using) and sauteed leeks.
Heat oil in a large saute pan on medium heat. Add carrots, celery, leek and garlic, thyme and rosemary and saute until vegetables soften, about 5-6 minutes. Add turkey and use the back of a large spoon to break into pieces; cook until browned. Add red wine and cook until wine reduces and just evaporates. Add tomato sauce and frozen peas, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large casserole dish. Spread mashed potatoes on top of meat filling. Sprinkle shredded cheese and Romano cheese on top.
Bake for 10-12 minutes until cheese is melted.
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