Every family has that one dish. The meal you could make with your eyes closed. It hits the dining room table at least once or twice a month and never disappoints. It’s tasty, healthy and you know everyone is going to eat it. Even the dog enjoys licking the plate.
For me (and I think many others) this is the classic, humble cottage pie.
I was speaking to a friend a while ago. She also has four kids and somehow the subject of ‘What are you making for dinner?’ came up. As it does. Often at school pick up. Cottage Pie was mentioned (by me) and she said she had never made it before. Seriously? Never? Never. I always assumed that everyone made this dish. It’s one of my pillar dinners. My fallback meal. Most of us have only a handful of these dishes that we can rely on – I felt as if I was giving her a gift of thousand dinners. Once you serve cottage pie, you cannot go back.
Having a list of pillar meals is a must for any Mom. It takes the pressure off meal times and learning to remake these meals using real food ingredients will make the entire process that much easier. Choose 5 dinners that you know your family loves and work on cleaning them up. If you are a little stuck, start with one meal at a time.
I used to make my cottage pie with instant gravy powder and no veggies. Yes, it was homemade but it lacked in nutrients and I had actually added preservatives and cost to an otherwise healthy-ish, budget meal.
Some dinners are very effective when it comes to adding vegetables to the dish. Casseroles, soups and pies are reasonably easy for even the fussiest eater to try. If your children are picky eaters, grate your vegetables before adding to the meat. It will save you the dinner time conflict and your children will surprise themselves by eating vegetables that would normally cause drama at the table.
- Ground beef (500g / 1lb)
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 1 cup grated carrot
- ½ cup frozen peas
- ¼ cup tomato puree
- 6-8 potatoes, peeled and chopped into ½ inch pieces
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup milk / almond milk
- ¼ cup grated cheese (optional)
- olive oil for cooking
- Preheat oven to 400'F / 180'C
- Savoury Mince : Heat a pan on the stove. Add olive oil, onions and garlic. Fry lightly for around 3 min until onions have softened. Add ground beef and fry until browned and all juices have reduced. Add tomato puree, carrots, salt and pepper and ½ cup water. Allow to simmer until water has reduced (about 5 min). Stir through peas. Spoon into an ovenproof dish. This is the bottom layer of the pie.
- Make the Mashed Potato: Heat up a large pot of water on the stove. Add potatoes and a pinch of salt. Boil for approx 12 - 15 min until soft. Drain and mash until smooth. Add butter, milk, alt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon the potato on top of the savory mince until entirely covered by a blanket of mashed potato. Sprinkle with cheese and bake on high for around 8-10 min so that cheese can melt and potato crisp on top.
- Serve on its own or with steamed vegetables on the side.