Root Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

Root vegetables are definitely not the sexiest creatures out there.  With much of their lives spent beneath the soil, they really don’t have anyone to impress beyond a few friendly earthworms.  The trouble comes when they are removed from their muddy lairs and compared to their handsome above-ground vegetable kin.  The elegant tree-like stalks of broccoli, the nice green leaves of spinach and the simple round heads of lettuce are often more attractive to shoppers then the stubby and gnarled forms of the root vegetable.

I recently, however, had a lot of success turning one rough and knotted celery root into a beautiful salad.  Given that success, I thought I’d throw caution to the wind once more and experiment with some other not so attractive root vegetables—parsnips, turnips, carrots, and Japanese sweet potatoes.  These little diamonds in the rough made for one not just edible, but delicious dish.   I think I may now officially be over my unwarranted fear of root vegetables!

Root Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

Adapted from Vegetarian Times, January 2010

From my pictures it may not look like this pie is topped with sweet potatoes. When I was buying the ingredients for the dish, I picked up some Japanese sweet potatoes, which unbeknownst to me have a white flesh. Rest assured, these white-fleshed potatoes taste very much like orange sweet potatoes.  You can use either Japanese or regular sweet potatoes to top this dish.

Sweet Potato Topping

  • 6 small Japanese sweet potatoes or 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 turnip, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 springs of fresh thyme, leaves removed from stem
  • 1 spring of fresh rosemary, stem removed and leaves chopped
  • ¼ cup of white wine
  • 1 15oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

For the sweet potato topping, bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the sweet potatoes and cook until tender (about 10 minutes or so).  Drain the potatoes and mash them.  Once the potatoes are relatively smooth, stir in the almond milk, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set potatoes aside while you make the filling.

Preheat the oven to 375°.  To make the filling, heat the oil in a large pot.  Add the onion and cook until translucent.  Add the turnips, parsnips, carrots, thyme and rosemary.  Cook for another 3 minutes.   Add the wine and then stir in the beans and vegetable broth.   Cover the pot and allow the mixture to simmer until the vegetables are soft.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the filling into a large casserole dish.  Cover the filling completely with the sweet potato topping and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Bake the shepherd’s pie for 30 minutes or until the cheese is slightly golden and the filling is bubbly.

Tasty Easy Healthy Green Recipe Ratings:

Recipe Report Card Notes About Recipe Ratings

Tasty Rating


Four Chefs (Delicious!)

The combination of textures and sweet and savory flavors in this dish definitely make it a winner.

Easy Rating


Three Easy Chairs (Average Difficulty)

Nothing about this dish is super-complicated, but it does take some time to do each of the steps and bring the whole thing together.

Healthy Rating


Four Apples (Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise)

Since it is packed with veggies and legumes, this dish qualifies as pretty healthy in my book.  You can leave out the butter and parmesan cheese if you’re looking for something even healthier.

Green Rating


Five Leaves (Absolute Green)

All the veggies were local and organic and the rest of the ingredients were organic.
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