Friday, January 28, 2011

Paleo Shepherd's Pie With Parsnip Mash

As you may know, my husband David is first generation American. His parents came over from England with his brother and sister not long before he was conceived. I had the pleasure of visiting our relatives in England in 2002. We stayed with Uncle Colin and Aunt Eileen, two of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. I will never forget the shepherd's pie Eileen made for us during our stay. It was actually the first I'd ever had, and it was great! Since then, shepherd's pie has been one of our favorite comfort foods. Typically topped with mashed potatoes and melted cheese, this paleo version is topped with mashed parsnips blended with caramelized onions and garlic for flavor. It is much lighter than the original and, in my opinion, even more delicious! I like the authentic flavor of ground lamb, but you can substitute another ground meat, if needed.

Adapted from

Serves 4-6.

2 pounds large parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 onions, sliced
2 Tbsp grass-fed butter, olive oil, or coconut oil + 2 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 leeks or onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced
3 Tbsp grass-fed butter, olive oil, or coconut oil
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, cleaned and diced
1 pound ground lamb
1 Tbsp almond flour
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp coconut aminos
1 cup beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, optional


Smooth parsnip mixture over the lamb.
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place parsnips in a medium saucepan, add enough salted water to cover about one inch over the parsnips, Boil over medium-high heat until parsnips are soft, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. While parsnips cook, warm fat of your choice over medium heat. Add sliced onions and garlic and cook onions until they begin to caramelize.
    NOTE:  I just let this pan go until all of my other ingredients were ready. Turn down the heat if the onions start to burn instead of caramelize.
  4. At the same time in another large skillet, add fat of your choice (I used butter), diced carrots, and chopped onions or leeks. Saute for about 10 minutes or until onion starts to become translucent. Add mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. Add lamb and continue to cook until lamb is cooked through, about 5-10 mimutes.
  5. Add remaining ingredients to lamb mixture and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes. Remove thyme and basil and pour into a 9x9 pan or deep-dish baker.
  6. Place warm, cooked parsnips, caramelized onion mixture and 1 Tbsp butter in food processor and process until smooth. Add another 1 Tbsp butter, if needed for consistency.
  7. Spoon parsnips on lamb mixture and smooth over the top.
  8. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the lamb is bubbly.


  1. Hi
    I like to consider myself quite a good cook, and today tried this recipe, and found it was an awful lot of chopping and adding a bit of this and a bit of that, and though the results were OK, I cannot not say with any conviction that it was anything out of the ordinary.

    The whole thing took too long. I can get just as good results by cooking lamb, carrots, onions, seasonings, in my pressure cooker for twenty minutes, then putting everything into a dish, adding mashed parsnips done with butter on the top, and put in a hot oven for twenty minutes. Far quicker and far less hassle.

    And the added 1/2 teaspoonful of cider vinegar, 1/4 teaspoonful of cloves, etc. really did not contribute anything to the finished taste.

    I'm very new to the paleo diet, and recently tried from another paleo site chicken with lemons, black olives, onions, garlic, thyme, and another chicken one with coconut milk and sundried tomatoes, and they were wonderful.


  2. Sorry you were disappointed with this recipe--it can definitely be labor intensive with all of the chopping, but my family was really pleased with the results. It's not one you can throw together in a hurry though, and I'm sure your quicker version would be great, too. Since I don't use tabasco, which is often used to flavor the meat, I substituted the"bit of this and bit of that" to get to the flavor I like. Every recipe is a personal preference and what's right for me and my family may not be right for everyone. You just need to find what's right for you. I hope you do well with your paleo journey. Thanks for your honest feedback--no apologies needed.

  3. I don't agree with the anonymous poster - my husband and I loved this one! Especially the parsnip topping. Well worth all the chopping and separate pans and everything. Plus I have enough leftovers to take to work for three lunches!

    1. Thank you, Stephanie! I'm so glad you liked this recipe and that you thought the extra effort was worth it. We did, too. Thanks so much for the nice comments. I appreciate you letting me know!

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks, ernie! I am so happy to hear you like this recipe. We really love this version of shepherd's pie. Glad you do, too! Thanks for letting me know!

  5. Oh in #5 I think it should say bay leaf, not basil