"Cook with your nose first, and then with your heart." ~Chef Di
It all started with a jar of Prego Spaghetti Sauce... the plain one. I was in my early 20's and after spending years cooking in B&B's I'll admit, I'd had my fill of quiche and popovers, not to mention the white dusting of flour that always seemed to grace my clothes, my car... and my hair. I didn't wear black for 8 years.
So, I set out to conquer some dinner dishes, and like most things in life, I got a little bored with the basics so I decided to mix it up.
But I needed a plan, because being a newly married girl on a budget, I could only afford to start with some small creative culinary adventures. Baby steps, thus out came the Prego to build from.
I lined up all my spices on the counter, and decided that if I was going to understand flavors... really understand flavors, I'd have to close my eyes, and just smell.
It's been many years since that day, and each and every year, I get even more adventurous with my recipes, and these last few months have been no exception. From my Chicken Tchoupitoulas Pasta, Green Pea Salad, Tarte Flambe, and Asian Honey Lime Steak with Chimichurri (well, that one doesn't really count, as that recipe came to me in my dreams!) To this last weekend's twist on Potato Salad, and now a fun and creative use of it as leftovers, to name a few.
Each and every dish first started with smelling, tasting, and then adding a little heart.
And in keeping with adding a lot of heart, here is a fun and delicious recipe that I came up with using my new favorite Potato Salad leftovers (although any potato salad would work great!)
I love Shepherd's Pie. The ultimate for a meat and potatoes lover, right after meatloaf and mashed potatoes, but kicked up a million notches, in this version! The Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and corn added a nice sweetness to the ground beef mixture (although you could also use turkey, or traditional lamb). While the peas added a pop of color and a pop on your tongue. And the topping of the fresh herb potato salad, (oh man, do I love this Potato Salad), added a richness and texture that one normally doesn't find with a typical Shepherd's Pie mashed potato topping.
Super quick. Super delicious. And a super way to stretch your budget and make leftovers simply scrumptious!
Leftover Potato Salad Shepherd's Pie
For the Meat Base:
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 leeks, halved and sliced thin, white part only
Olive oil as needed
2-3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (I opt for a bit more, as I love the flavor)
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I use the kind in the tube)
Beef broth as needed (I used about 1/4 c.)
1/2 cup canned whole corn, drained
1/2 cup green peas, frozen and cooked according to package directions
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Potato Salad Topping:
To your leftovers (I had about 4 cups left over) add about 1/3 cup sour cream to moisten and mash the potatoes a bit more. This will vary depending on how much Potato Salad you have left over. Check seasoning for salt and pepper. *Note: Make sure not to use mayonnaise based potato salad that has been left out. This recipe is perfect for leftover Potato Salad that has been kept refrigerated.
Putting it all together:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown the beef, onion and leeks in a large skillet (depending on the fat content of the meat, add in oil if needed). Once browned, drain off any fat. Add in the rest of ingredients and test for seasoning.
Place meat filling in a greased 9x13 pan. Top with potato salad topping. Sprinkle on more Romano cheese if desired, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until heated through.