Don’t miss my warming and comforting Cottage Pie with Roasted Root Vegetable Topping! Topped with roast sweet potato, butternut squash and parsnip, this recipe is a nourishing and delicious twist on a traditional British favourite.
Cottage Pie is one of the first dishes I learned how to make when I came to England over 25 years ago. The roasted root vegetable topping is something I’ve incorporated more recently. It’s a flavourful and nutritious alternative to a mashed potato topping.
The Difference Between Cottage Pie and Shepherd’s Pie
Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb, and Cottage Pie is made with beef. The term Shepherd’s Pie is more common though. It means that Cottage Pie is often erroneously referred to in conversation and on restaurant menus as Shepherd’s Pie.
In years gone by these classic dishes were originally made with leftovers from a lamb or beef roast. Cooked meat was shredded or ground, mixed with gravy and vegetables, placed in a casserole and topped with leftover mashed potato.
More recently, cooks have begun to use raw ground beef and lamb to make Cottage and Shepherd’s Pie respectively. Raw minced meat is browned with onions, vegetables and gravy are added, and the mixture is casseroled and topped with mashed potato.
What’s So Special About Cottage Pie with Root Vegetable Topping?
Cottage Pie is a frugal, kid friendly dinner, with mild flavours and a great texture. The root vegetable topping is a colourful twist that adds a bit of sweetness to the meal.
I also like to make this recipe in four individual casserole dishes. This means people can have their own mini cottage pie which is a great idea if there are less than four of you. You can then cool and refrigerate some of the cottage pies and serve them at another time.
Cottage Pie with Roasted Root Vegetable Topping is a great make ahead dish that reheats well. You can double the recipe to make one cottage pie for supper tonight and another for dinner within two days.
What If My Family Doesn’t Like Parsnips?
You can switch up the root vegetables to suit your family. If you don’t like parsnips, bump up the butternut squash and sweet potato – or replace the parsnips with cubed carrots, swede (rutabaga) or turnip.
Should you chose to use carrots in the topping, I recommend adding peas to the meat filling instead of carrots.
Is There a Vegan/Vegetarian Option for Cottage Pie?
You can make vegan or vegetarian Cottage Pie by replacing ground beef with lentils or a ground meat substitute, adjusting the cooking times as necessary.
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Cottage Pie with Roasted Root Vegetable Topping is lovely served with broccoli or green beans, but it also makes a deliciously easy meal in a bowl. However you decide to serve it, it is sure to become a family favourite!
Cottage Pie with Roasted Root Vegetable Topping – Printable Recipe
- 1 sweet potato peeled and cut in small cubes
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut in small cubes (or use prepared bags of cubed butternut squash and sweet potato)
- 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut in small cubes
- (basically you need about 2 ½ to 3 cups of cubed root vegetables)
- 2 tablespoons mlld olive oil, divided
- ½ teaspoon onion salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 pound (454 grams) ground beef (mince beef)
- 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon corn flour
- ½ cup (4 ounces) beef stock (you may not need it all)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C OR 190°C for fan ovens).
- Place the cubed root vegetables on a baking tray and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
- Mix together the onion salt, garlic powder, paprika and pepper to taste.
- Shake over the root vegetables.
- Stir the vegetables to coat with the oil and seasonings and put in the oven.
- Set the timer for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a deep frying pan with a lid.
- Sauté the onion until it begins to soften a little.
- Add the ground beef and cook, breaking the meat up as you go, until the meat is browned.
- When the timer goes off for the vegetables, remove the pan from the oven, turn the vegetables and return the pan to the oven. Set the timer for another 10 minutes.
- Stir in the carrots into the meat mixture in the saucepan and shake the cornflour over top of the pan.
- Add the stock, a little at a time, stirring constantly, until the meat has a bit of gravy around it.
- Cover the frying pan and simmer, adding a little stock if necessary for a fairly thick gravy. .
- Put the meat mixture into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish or 4 smaller baking dishes.
- Top the meat mixture with the roasted root vegetables.
- Place the baking dish or smaller baking dishes on a baking sheet.
- Reduce the oven heat to 375°F (190°C or 180°C for fan ovens).
- Place the cottage pie(s) in the oven on the baking sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the mixture is bubbling and the vegetable topping has nice crusty edges (but isn't burned).
- Serve the cottage pies with green vegetables.