A Spring Riff on Shepherd's Pie

June 11, 2010
A Spring Riff on Shepherd's Pie

Author Notes: Shepherd’s Pie is synonymous with cold weather comfort food, but who said it can’t be enjoyed year round? I created this lighter spring version with ground turkey and a few weeks’ worth of CSA white turnips and fresh herbs. Although I did not have any fresh carrots on hand, I did have fresh carrot juice, and it was a worthwhile substitute, I think. Fresh thyme and tarragon add a delicate finish to the traditionally hearty gravy. This comes together quickly and is quite delicious. gingerroot

Serves: 6


for the filling

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey meat
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh italian parsley, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh marjoram leaves
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup fresh carrot juice
  • 12-18 small to medium white turnips, trimmed, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Greens from turnips, long stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped

for the gravy and topping

  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup vermouth or other dry white wine
  • Cornstarch roux made from 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed in 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
In This Recipe


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a 9 X 13 inch ceramic baking dish by greasing with olive oil. Set aside
  2. Heat olive oil in 10-12” skillet over medium high heat. Saute onions until softened and lightly browned, 2 minutes.
  3. Add ground turkey and brown, using spoon to break up pieces. Continue to cook until evenly browned and no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, mushrooms, thyme and marjoram, stirring to combine.
  5. Add parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn off heat.
  6. Meanwhile, bring chicken broth and carrot juice to boil in a small saucepan.
  7. Add turnips; turn down heat and cover to simmer. Cook until turnips are tender, about 10 minutes.
  8. Add chopped turnip greens and cook for 2 minutes.
  9. Using a slotted spoon, remove turnips and greens (setting broth/carrot juice mixture to the side) and fold into skillet with turkey mixture. Spoon into prepared baking dish.
  10. Add butter to broth/carrot juice mixture. Turn up heat to bring to a slow boil.
  11. Add vermouth, fresh thyme and tarragon, and slowly whisk in cornstarch roux to thicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  12. Spoon broth/carrot gravy over turkey/turnip mixture. Top with leftover mashed potatoes.
  13. Cover with foil and cook in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbly. Remove foil during last 5 minutes of cooking. (Prepared pie can be made 1 day ahead, skipping the mashed potato step, and refrigerated. Top pie with potatoes before immediately before cooking. Follow heating directions above).

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Pie|Carrot|Chicken|Parsley|Tarragon|Thyme|Turkey|Vegetable|Vermouth|Turnip|Make Ahead|Spring