Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring Greens: Leek, Asparagus & Ham "Shepard's" Pie

Spring. Green. Everything is a lovely shade of verde lately. A week full of rain has produced greens in all the shades of the green rainbow, colors of green that you forget exist outside of spring. Chives are happily poking up from my herb bed, and organic leeks at the Outpost were 79 cents a pound! It's really here, no denying it now.

Still thinking about the innBrooklyn call for Asparagus recipes, I decided to use up the rest of my Easter leftovers last night by doing one of my favorite things with leftovers: making a pie. I love quiche, but my Husband does not, fortunately for me it is never hard to get him to eat leftover's by making a Shepard's Pie of sorts, basically a crustless quiche with a mashed potato topping. It is amazing to me that I can go into the fridge, pull out several bowls of languishing leftovers, add a bit of heat and a simple sauce and turn it into something delicious. Perhaps not the most elegant, regal or photogenic of recipes, but satisfying nonetheless. Another plus is that it goes into the oven, so almost all the cleanup is done before dinner begins.

My recipe of sorts for Leek, Asparagus & Ham "Shepard's" Pie: (or the "Or so" Leftovers recipe)
  • 3 medium leeks, sliced
  • 1 c. or so leftover ham
  • 3/4 c. or so frozen peas
  • 1/2 c. or so asparagus (I used leftover already blanched from dinner on Wednesday)
  • 2 T. AP flour
  • 1 1/2 c. water or stock
  • 2 c. or so leftover mashed potatoes
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt, pepper, herbage of your choice - chives in my case
Saute the leeks in a bit of butter and/or olive oil until wilted, about 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper (and I also used some Aleppo pepper). Stir in flour, and continue stirring for a minute. Add stock and whisk until smooth and thickened, a minute or two depending on your heat. Add in the ham, asparagus and peas, and continue cooking over medium-low heat until everything is heated through. Pour into a 9x9 glass baking dish.

Mix mashed potatoes with the beaten egg until smooth, and spread out over the top of the dish. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes until heated through and the potatoes start to get brown around the edges.

Recipes like these always beg for inspiration, you could add cheese to your mashed potatoes, or add more leeks and veg for a vegetarian version. Ham is a highly seasoned meat, so I really didn't feel the need to add any other flavors to the mix. I added a fair amount more of black pepper at the table, post photographing:

Which reminds me of the saying, "Be a miser with the salt, and a Demon with the pepper". I'm not sure who said that, but I like it, and usually feel that pepper is tremendously unsung in the culinary world. I often add it to the oil/butter I'm sauteing in, to release those oils that bring out the surprising heat in plain old black pepper.

Now my leftovers are gone, and I can start a new week of adventures with no jumping off point. This is good and bad, but something will emerge, I'm sure of that.


  1. Good job using up leftovers: I must do some work in that department today myself....
    I'm not sure how anyone can not love quiche... but the shepherd's pie solution seems like a yummy one!

  2. What a fantastic way to use leftovers and the veggies in season! This looks so delicious!

  3. I wonder what you'd call a "shepherd's pie" made with leftovers. I know it's got a different name when made with beef, rather than lamb.... spring pie would work for me!

  4. I know, Lo, Spring Pie sounds like a good name. Technically, it is cottage pie when made with beef, and shepard's pie with Lamb... I prefer to think of it as a "pot pie" but would never use the term, or Jeff would *never* eat it!

  5. I have never thought of doing a Shepards Pie like this. Great idea! And I think you have done a fantastic work on the photography. So much for a non photogenic dish!

  6. I love pies like this, whatever you call them. One of the most satisfying things in the world is to whip up something so delicious from a few odds and ends. I really believe it's an art.


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