Some of the buzz words floating around the food industry this year are bugs as meal options and "drynuary," but that's just crazy talk and we're going to pretend we didn't read that. Along with those ideas we'll also be seeing carbs make a comeback, natural sweeteners, craft beverages, and pulses. "What are pulses," you ask? Apparently they're not a 90s dance craze enjoying a resurgence, which is too bad because I was quite good at the Elaine Dance.
The United Nations declared 2016 International Year of Pulses, and this translates into more chickpeas, lentils, beans, and peas in recipes and at restaurants. All the things we loved to hate when we were small and sticking things up our nose, but which we've since realized form the basis for some amazing recipes. Hummus, anyone?
In order to up the health factor of a favourite comfort meal, I added chickpeas and 100% of the locals loved it. The chickpeas add a nice texture, along with the carrots, so that this Shepherd's Pie satisfies the taste buds and a desire for something crunchy.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Heat oil in an oven-safe skillet on the stove, over medium heat and add onions. Once onions are softened add meat and break apart.
*** While beef is cooking, place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Cook over medium to high heat until soft. Drain water, keeping back approximately 1/3 cup of potato water for flavour. Mash potatoes and add butter, milk, and salt. Stir until all the ingredients are well-blended.
Once the meat is almost cooked through add thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, and cumin and stir.
Add in chickpeas, peas, carrots, garlic, and beef stock and stir. Allow to simmer for another 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and top with mashed potatoes, drawing fork across to make marks that will brown. Place the skillet in oven on the middle rack and cook for 30 minutes.
Change oven setting to broil and leave in another minute to lightly brown the top of the Shepherd's Pie.
Serves 4 to 6.