I like my recipe comfort zone. I like being able to have confidence in a new recipe because the featured ingredients are old faves: black beans, tomatoes, cheese, cilantro, etc. So when I decided to try the Weight Watchers Mideast Shepherd’s Pie recipe, it put a kink in my kitchen confidence. From the start, I was not 100% sure about this recipe. It sounded intriguing, and I liked the potential combination of flavors, but it also seemed like it could turn out to be awful. Fresh ginger does wonders for Asian stir frys, and pumpkin pie spice is perfect for autumnal baked goods. But ginger and pumpkin pie spice in a Shepherd’s Pie? Hmm…
Despite my reservations, I gave it a try on Saturday night. It was rather fun to make – mashing sweet potatoes is a somehow satisfying experience – although it dirtied up a lot of dishes, including almost our entire bin of measuring spoons. And I could never decide if I liked or hated the smell as it was cooking.
I have to say, it tasted better than it looked (and smelled – I decided in the end that I did not like the smell all that much). There was too much ginger in the sweet potato topping, but otherwise, it was better than expected. After much discussion, John and I decided it rated 3 out of 5 stars, and that its different flavors would make for a good, once-a-year meal.
Mideast Shepherd’s Pie
2 (10-oz) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
½ cup fat-free half-and-half
1 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger (I recommend reducing this amount, or even nixing it altogether)
½ tsp salt
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
2 TB all-purpose flour
1 TB tomato paste
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
¾ lb ground lean beef (7% fat or less)
1 TB pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp ground cumin
1 (16-oz) bag frozen mixed vegetables
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
1. Topping: Bring potatoes and enough cold water to cover by 1 inch to boil in large saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender, 10 minutes. Drain potatoes in colander. Set pan over medium heat. Add half-and-half, ginger, and ½ tsp. salt; cook 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; add potatoes and mash until smooth.
2. Filling: Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400˚. Spray 1 ½-to-2-quart baking dish with nonstick spray. Whisk broth, flour, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in medium bowl until smooth. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 minutes. Add beef, pie spice, and cumin; cook, breaking up beef with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 minutes. Stir in broth mixture and frozen mixed vegetables; bring to boil.
3. Pour filling into baking dish. Spread topping evenly over filling; sprinkle with paprika. Bake until filling is bubbling, 20 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup). Per serving, 5 PointsPlus.