Veg-full Cottage Pie

Winter is here for sure and comfort food in on the menu in our home. Plus, with two growing lads I need to make sure tummies are filled and everyone is satisfied. Cottage pie is one of those basic nursery favourites that somehow gets lost en route into adulthood and more complex tastes and flavours take precident. Simple and rustic works for me – especially midweek, and especially when I don’t want to think too hard. No matter how simple – those fluffy pillows of mash over a rich mince filling seem to make everything right again. Not of course if you are vegetarian – however often I have just supplanted the mince for cooked lentils and it is JUST as yummy – promise! To lighten it up and give it a boost I use 3 times as much veg as I do mince and this not only adds flavour but also adds nutrition and makes the whole dish a little lighter. You can also make the mince well before so its less time consuming to make.

You could use sweet potatoes for the mash instead – or even cauli-mash if you are carb counting 🙂

Serves 6 people


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g Pasture Reared Beef Mince (or Soya Mince – or Lentils)
  • 1 brown onion chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup of Chopped peppers
  • 1/2 cup peeled and diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) peas
  • Handful chopped parsley leaves.
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp Spelt Flour
  • 500ml Vegetable/Beef or Mushroom stock (I like mushroom)
  • Salt & Pepper

For the Mash:

  • 1 kg Potatoes (floury if using white – but can use sweet potatoes too)
  • 1/2 cup strong cheddar
  • 1/2 cup Milk or plant based milk
  • Seasoning
  • Pinch nutmeg


  • I prefer to boil the potatoes wholes with skin on (if they are medium to small) as its easier to peel them afterwards with my hands – however you can also peel and quarter and boil. Its really up to you – either way you need to cook them till they are soft and can be mashed easily 🙂
  • While the potatoes are boiling you can make the mince – heat the oil in a heavy based stewing pot where your mince will have space to breathe and brown. If you use a small pot the mince will just steam and produce water and you wont get the caramelisation you want on the meat to give the dish flavour.
  • Sweat and brown the onion gently first before adding the garlic and then the mince.
  • After you have browned the mince you can add your carrots and celery, tomato paste and thyme, sauté for about 4 mins.
  • Add your red pepper and peas and combine.
  • Sprinkle your spelt flour evenly over the mince & veg and stir to combine – this is going to give a little thickness to the gravy.
  • Add your parsley and stock and bring to a simmer for about 15  mins with the lid off stirring at regular intervals. You want the sauce to be thick and not too liquid.
  • Once the potatoes are cooked and peeled place in a large bowl for mashing – or use a ricer. Don’t however use a food processor as you will get a slimy and waxy texture.
  • Once mashing commences add the seasoning, cheddar, nutmeg and milk so you get a creamy consistency that will spread easily over your mince. I like a chunky mash – not totally smooth – but you can choose whichever texture you prefer.
  • Place the mince mixture into a baking dish – round or rectangle or square – you need a size that will contain all the mince and the mash (mine is 18cm x 25cm)
  • Next you need to spoon/spread or pipe the mash on top of the mince. If you are spooning it on start at the edges and work your way into the centre – I find this easier. I also like to sprinkle some paprika for colour and make tracks with a fork as I like the crusty bits that this produces.

  • Place in a preheated moderate oven (180C) on a baking sheet and bake for 30mins or until golden brown and bubbling. Let the dish rest for 10 mins before dishing up and serve with a nice crunchy green salad 🙂