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Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

You can’t really call this a shepherd’s pie. It’s made with beef, which I guess would technically make it a “rancher’s pie”. But if you say “rancher’s pie”, no one knows what you’re talking about. So I’m sticking with shepherd’s pie for now.

This dish has been in my family recipe file for so long that I can’t remember what magazine it came from. When I clipped it out, I cut off the second half of the instructions. I’m sharing my own version of the instructions here (if anyone has the original, feel free to share!)

When I first started making this we were a vegetarian family, so we made it with extra beans and some veggie-burger crumbles. These days, we’re making it with organic beef, but I do still add some extra beans to stretch it farther. I’ve also swapped out the butter and milk for non-dairy ingredients to make it allergen-friendly.

Sometimes I add veggies to the beef and bean mixture (spinach works well, as does squash). It kind of depends on what’s in the fridge and whether or not I feel like making a salad.

I think the original recipe called for ketchup. At some point I started using tomato paste instead of the ketchup, which works great and eliminates unnecessary sugar. I confess, though, that sometimes I pull out the half-can of tomato paste from the back of the fridge and it’s a little too fuzzy to use. So I reach for the ketchup. Use whichever one suits your preference.

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Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

Source: ?? (adapted to be allergen-friendly)


  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 34 tsp coarse salt
  • 3 Tbs coconut oil, or other non-dairy oil
  • 14 cup coconut milk, or other non-dairy milk
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 medium organic onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 14 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 24 oz. organic ground beef (or veggie crumbles)
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • plum tomato, cored and chopped
  • 14 cup tomato paste
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 14 tsp black pepper


  1. In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water. Add 2 tsp salt and bring to a simmer. Cook until very soft, about 10 minutes. Drain well. Return potatoes to the saucepan and add 2 Tbs coconut oil, coconut milk, a pinch of salt, and the cayenne. Mash until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  2. Preheat oven to 425. In a large skillet, melt the remaining coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until browned, about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the cumin, cinnamon, and beef and cook, stirring until browned and no longer pink, about 5-6 minutes.
  3. Stir in the black beans, tomato, tomato paste, and honey and season with 3/4 tsp salt and the pepper. Cook 5 minutes longer and spread into a casserole dish. Spread the mashed sweet potatoes over the top of the beef. Bake, uncovered, until the potatoes are browned on top and the filling is bubbling–about 30 minutes.

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