Paleo Butternut Squash Shepherd’s Pie

This butternut squash shepherd’s pie is the definition of comfort food. Ground beef and vegetables simmer in wine and beef broth and get a topping of creamy butternut squash and spinach for the perfect casserole.

Shepherd's Pie 2

I know these aren’t my best pictures, but this butternut squash Shepherd’s Pie is so good that I had to share. I never ate Shepherd’s pie growing up, so I never knew the potato version. It wasn’t until I was in college and on the SCD diet and desperate for easy recipes that I tried it with a mashed cauliflower topping and fell absolutely in love with it. Years later, I was making meals for my boss and her husband, and it became their favorite thing I made as well.

Unfortunately, I eventually realized that I don’t do well with cauliflower, I also try to stay away from nightshades so topping the casserole with potatoes weren’t an option, and neither was the tomato paste I typically used in the ground beef mixture. So, I gave up on Shepherd’s pie for a while. That is, until I made my browned butter mashed kabocha squash and realized it was a great potato replacement! I made up for the lack of of tomato paste in the ground beef by using fresh herbs, red wine, and rich beef broth. When I made this I was anxiously waiting to see whether it would live up to my former Shepherd’s Pie, and quite honestly, I think it was even better. It instantly became a favorite in our house and when I brought leftovers for lunch the next day my coworkers were all jealously asking what I was eating.

Shepherd's Pie 1

So, even though Spring is upon us and this recipe is slightly overdue, I highly recommend that you make it no matter what the season is. The other best part of this dish (you know, besides the incredible flavor) is that it creates lots of leftovers, and it freezes beautifully, so even if you don’t want to eat Shepherd’s Pie all week, you can portion out a few servings to put into the freezer and grab whenever you don’t feel like cooking dinner.

Also, like all my recipes, this is totally customizable! Don’t want to do squash? Top with mashed cauliflower, parsnips, or potatoes instead. Can’t do peas? Try substituting with green beans! Have some extra veggies in the fridge that really need to be used? Absolutely throw them in! Also, if you can do dairy, you should definitely top this with some cheese.

So, the last few weeks have been a bit crazy, though I suppose I’m starting to adjust to the fact that things are always crazy. I officially started my job as a nutritionist and it has been a complete whirlwind. I am now working with people 1:1 every day helping them reach their health goals through nutrition. While working in a doctor’s office is MUCH different than my previous jobs, I’m so happy to be able to practice my passion and help people every day, and I feel like my knowledge is growing exponentially.

At the same time, my workload at my other job has recently grown as well, and I’m finding more and more opportunities to counsel people there and help them reach their goals as well. Something interesting to me is that before starting this job I was so nervous about not knowing enough, not being able to help anyone, and generally looking like a fool, but I really haven’t found that to be the case. I’ve always struggled with confidence in my past jobs but that struggle no longer seems to be present, even when dealing with clients whose problems I don’t fully know how to solve, I feel confident that I will keep looking until I find them an answer, and I’m definitely not too proud to refer them elsewhere.

Finally, in addition to all of this learning, I’m putting together a bunch of recipes for a book (not my own, I will be contributing to someone else’s) so most of my creative cooking energy is going to be channeled there for a bit. Forgive me if my posting remains spotty for a little while, and in the meantime, enjoy this butternut squash Shepherd’s Pie!

Shepherds Pie 3

Paleo Butternut Squash Shepherd’s Pie


    For the Squash Topping:
  • 1 small Butternut or Kabocha Squash (about 2 lbs)
  • 3-4 Tbs of Butter
  • 1/4-1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
    For the Beef Filling:
  • 2 lbs of Ground Beef or Lamb
  • 1 Sprig Rosemary
  • 5 Sprigs Thyme
  • 1/4 Cup Parsley
  • 1 Fennel Bulb, finely chopped
  • 3 Carrots, Diced
  • 1 Onion, Diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 3 Cups Kale, Spinach, or Watercress
  • 1 Cup Green Beans or Peas
  • 1/2 Cup Beef Broth
  • 1/2 Cup Red Wine (may substitute with more broth)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Halve squash, scoop out seeds, brush with high heat oil such as ghee or avocado oil, and place on baking sheet with cut side up. Bake for about 40 minutes, until cooked through and easily pierced with fork.
  3. Chop carrots, onion, fennel, and garlic. Saute over medium heat until the onion is translucent, then add garlic until fragrant.
  4. Mince the rosemary, thyme, and parsley.
  5. Add beef to the vegetable mixture and saute until brown. Add in the herbs and season with salt and pepper.
  6. While beef is browning, make the squash topping. Scoop the squash out of its shell and place into a medium-sized pot. Either puree with an immersion blender or mash with a potato masher.
  7. Add 3-4 Tbs Butter, and 1/4-1/2 cup coconut milk (kabocha squash will require more coconut milk and butternut will require less) until a creamy, mashed-potato-like texture is achieved. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Saute 3 cups of greens in a Tbs of oil, until wilted.
  9. Mix the greens in with the squash mixture.
  10. In a casserole dish, add the ground beef mixture into the dish, then top with the squash mixture.
  11. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

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