Sneaky vegetable shepherd's pie

This recipe for shepherd's pie contains two hidden vegetables - courgette and carrots, as well as tomatoes. You could of course leave the vegetables diced - just cook for longer - or even add more vegetables. I didn't add any salt so it's great for baby led weaning as well - our 10-month-old absolutely loved it.

Sneaky vegetable shepherd's pie

I was really pleased with how this dish turned out. I've made shepherd's pie before but Miss R always complains as she thinks she doesn't like it - despite loving both bolognese sauce and mashed potato. This time round, I made sure she was really hungry at tea time and after a few minutes of grumbling she tucked in and ate an entire portion. R and baby S both polished off their portions too - in fact I'm pretty sure that the baby ate as much as his brother and sister!

3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into similar sized pieces
Butter, for mashing
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp mixed dried herbs
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
1 medium courgette, grated
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
100ml boiling water or stock
500g beef mince 

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the potatoes and boil until soft. Drain and mash well with a little butter.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the sunflower oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the onion and fry over a medium-low heat until soft. Stir often. Add the garlic and mixed herbs and cook for a further minute before stirring in the grated carrot and courgette. Continue cooking for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then pour in the chopped tomatoes. Heat through. At this stage you can blend the sauce if you prefer. I leave it as it is these days but a couple of years ago I would have had to blend it.

Heat the remaining sunflower oil in another pan. Add the mince and cook, stirring often until browned all over. Once done, stir into the tomato and vegetable sauce and add the extra water or stock. Season to taste at this stage.

Simmer over a low heat for anything from 15 minutes to an hour to let the sauce thicken and the flavours develop. Preheat the oven to 200°C. 

Pour the filling into an ovenproof dish, spread the mashed potato over the top and even out with a fork. Bake for around 30 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the top has browned.

Serve with vegetables of your choice (I offered up roasted carrots and cauliflower which only the adults and the baby ate) and gravy. Or as we did, ketchup - which as my husband's boss recently told him, conquers all when you're dealing with picky eating!

This served two children, one adult and a baby. I made a separate veggie one for me, using lentils. I'm hoping to post a version soon - just need to convince the kids to try it first - but essentially, I made it in exactly the same way, just with red lentils instead of the beef mince.

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