Monday, February 22, 2010

root vegetable shepherd's pie (february csa)

this one was a weekend project. project meaning it took over 3 hours to make. save your groaning and moaning for later. this recipe was perfectly paced for some weekend meditative cooking, which was ideal since i planned my entire saturday around it. think multiple steps, lots of chopping, and nothing too fast paced: things won't start smoking if you turn your head for a moment too long.

this recipe came about as i was craving sheppard's pie and wanted to use a butternut squash topping. i stumbled across this one from the la times for a root vegetable shepherd's pie from rustic canyon in santa monica. i had been dying to try the restaurant, so it seemed like the perfect option.

the effort was worth it. the butternut squash shone in this dish. it was sweet and rich. the apples contributed a great deal. i used granny smith ones and would suggest doing the same as the tartness was welcome with the rest of the sweet root vegetables. i made a few more substitutions (tofutti cream cheese instead of crème fraîche) as is usually the case when i'm making something that calls for lots of dairy. i also took some liberties with the amounts of veggies (seriously, i need to separately cook 1/4 cup of potatoes?!)

also to note: celery root is extremely underrated. read: smells like CANDY when you cook it in milk.

root vegetable shepherd's pie

serves: 8-10

from the latimes (adapted from rustic canyon wine bar & seasonal kitchen)

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • salt
  • 7 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided (i used half butter and half olive oil)
  • sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup fingerling potatoes, diced (i used 1/2 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig thyme plus 2 tablespoons chopped thyme, divided
  • 1 sprig rosemary plus 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary, divided
  • 1 celery root, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups heavy cream (i used low fat milk)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sage
  • 4 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 parsnips, peeled and diced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 apples, cored and diced (peels left on) - i suggest granny smith
  • 1 kohlrabi, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced leeks
  • 3 small turnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/4 pound spinach
  • 1 cup diced fresh brioche or challah (i just used some spelt bread that i had)
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche (i used tofutti cream cheese)
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (i used packaged gluten-free ones)

  • heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • halve the squash lengthwise, then scoop out and discard the seeds and fibers. place the halves on a baking sheet, cut side up, and season each half with one-fourth teaspoon salt. place one-half tablespoon butter in the hollow of each half, then cover the sheet with foil and bake until the squash are tender, about 1 hour. set aside to cool slightly, then scoop the flesh out of each half and discard the outer shell.
  • brown the butter: place 2 tablespoons butter (or 1 butter, 1 olive oil) in a large, heavy-bottom sauté pan and cook over medium-high heat until the butter browns and has a nutty aroma, about 3 minutes. be careful not to burn. stir in the squash and sprinkle over the nutmeg. reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly to break the softened squash into a purée. watch carefully so the squash does not burn on the bottom of the pan. remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • while the squash cools, cook the potatoes. bring a small saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. stir in the potatoes, garlic and 1 sprig each of thyme and rosemary. cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 8 minutes. drain the potatoes, discarding the garlic and herbs and set aside in a large bowl.
  • in the same saucepan, combine the celery root with the cream and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the celery root is tender, about 10 minutes. strain out the celery root and place in the large bowl with the potatoes. reserve 1/4 cup of the cream in a separate container.
  • place 1 tablespoon butter in a large sauté pan and brown over medium-high heat. stir in the sage, carrots and parsnips and season with one-fourth teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. remove the vegetables to the large bowl and set aside.
  • clean the sauté pan and brown 3 tablespoons butter (or half butter, half olive oil) over medium-high heat. stir in the chopped thyme, apples, kohlrabi, leeks and turnips. season with one-half teaspoon salt and a pinch each sugar and pepper. increase the heat to high and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. remove the vegetables to the large bowl.
  • clean the sauté pan and melt the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. stir in the shallots and brown slightly. stir in the spinach and cook just until wilted. season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. remove from heat and add to the large bowl.
  • add the diced brioche (spelt bread), chopped rosemary, reserved cream and crème fraîche (tofutti) to the vegetables and stir gently but thoroughly to combine. taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.
  • place the mixture in a baking dish so the filling reaches approximately one-half inch from the top of the dish. using a rubber spatula, spread the butternut squash purée evenly over the top. sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top.
  • place the baking dish on a baking pan (to catch any drippings) and bake until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. remove from heat and serve hot.


  1. Sounds really delicious and very healthy.

  2. You seriously need to come back home and cook...I'm such a catastrophe in the kitchen I can't even get the always-present spaghetti and meatsauce right.

  3. Just another reason for you to come and visit!