Cottage Pie with Roasted Root Vegetable Topping is a nourishing and delicious twist on a traditional British favourite. The roast sweet potato, butternut squash and parsnip topping makes it extra delicious and nutritious. There’s a vegetarian or vegan option too!
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In years gone by these classic dishes were originally made with leftovers from a lamb or beef roast.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.
Of course, you can substitute a plant-based mince for the minced or ground meat.
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 an individual serving, a great idea if there are less than four of you. You can then cool and refrigerate some of the pies and serve them at another time. Of course, you can always make then casserole in one large pan if you prefer.
The pumpkin-shaped casserole dishes (not an affiliate link) I have are now quite hard to find and fairly expensive, but I have found an alternative individual serving size pumpkin-shaped casserole (affiliate link) if you want to give them a try.
Cottage Pie with Roasted Root Vegetable Topping is a great make ahead dish that reheats well. You can double the recipe to make one for supper tonight and another to enjoy later. Be sure to cool and refrigerate the second casseroles promptly.
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?
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
Cottage Pie with Root Vegetable Topping
- 1 sweet potato peeled and cut in small cubes
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut in small cubes You can use prepared bags of cubed butternut squash and sweet potato if you prefer.
- 2 large parsnips, peeled and cut in small cubes
- 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 ground beef (mince beef) You can substitute plant-based mince for a vegetarian or vegan option.
- 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon corn flour Corn flour is also known as corn starch.
- ½ cup beef stock You may not need it all. Use vegetable stock if you are substituting plant-based mince.
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce Omit for a vegetarian/vegan option
- salt and pepper to taste
- 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.