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What can I serve with Shepards Pie?

So I'm biting the bullet and making my fiancee Shepards Pie for tomorrow for his birthday. I know its not a dish that screams "Spring" but its his favorite. Im going to use a Gordan Ramsay recipe from the Times where the standout flavors seem like lamb, worcestershire sauce,red wine, and thyme. Im looking for something light and if possible a little unusual to serve with it but I am at a loss for the flavor combo. Any suggestions?? Thanks!

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  1. Kind of simplistic and not at all unusual but a salad of mixed greens, tomato and cucumber with dressing of choice seems to be complementary. The pie sounds to be quite rich.

    1. For authenticity, how about a side of mushy peas?

      8 Replies
      1. re: Bill on Capitol Hill

        You know, thats perfect- I bought peas anticipating having them in the recipe and they are not. How does one make mushy peas??

        1. re: arugala

          Put 'em in a pan and cook till they're mushy.

          1. re: revsharkie

            Actually the authentic recipes used dried peas. And, arugala, with a name like that, I'm surprised you didn't think of a salad! I think something fresh like a green salad would be nice. No need to keep the entire meal heavy. It's spring, after all.

            1. re: sarah galvin

              Ha! Yes, I am going to go with a salad of peas, radishes, and red onion.... and maybe a little arugala :). I think I am going to dress it with just some pumpkin oi and salt and pepper.

              1. re: arugala

                arugula, your salad seems just right to perk up what can be a bland dish. nice textural contrast, too. good call!

                edit: actually reading further downthread, i see revsharkie is to be credited with the salad combo, ding ding ding, we have a winner! '-)

              2. re: sarah galvin

                Oh, so you mean "mushy peas" is actually a particular dish that people actually make on purpose? I thought you meant peas cooked to death. I would think that's probably heavier than I'd want with shepherd's pie, and perhaps not enough textural contrast.

                1. re: revsharkie


                  Yes, mushy peas are a pub special in the UK. I agree, too heavy with shepherd's pie.

            2. re: arugala

              To make mushy peas, you put the peas in a saucepan (frozen green peas work best but canned is ok too), stir in some butter, a dash of cream or milk, some garlic, some salt, and stir, mashing up the peas with a potato masher till they're smooth but still thick.

              Some people also add a dash of malt vinegar to the peas, others use mint.

              Mushy peas, though delicious, are usually more traditionally served with fish and chips. Simple cooked mixed veg (peas, carrots, cauliflower, runner beans, etc) are usually served with Shepherd's pie, if you haven't got veggies already in the pie.

          2. How about a fresh veggie platter before serving the pie ? With some homemade Tzatziki for dipping. Maybe some cucumber slices, peppers, celery and whatever your imagination brings you to add.

            Maybe some fresh pita also

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jimbosox04

              that does sound good, but I make tzatziki pretty often so it wouldnt be new..

            2. If it were me and I could make a decent loaf of soda bread, I'd serve it with that, and a nice salad.

              Maybe take those peas and, instead of making them mushy, make a salad out of them with sliced radish and red onion, dill, a little mayo and some plain yogurt.

              4 Replies
              1. re: revsharkie

                You need a particular type of pea to make mushy peas (marrowfat, I think)

                I don't make SP terribly often, but, when I have done, I have served with Cabbage & Bacon very successfully.

                Finely shred a white cabbage and add to a pan in which you have cooked off some chopped (smoked) bacon until crisp and a couple fo crushed juniper berries.

                Don't over cook the cabbage, leave so it still has some bite and add a tsp of english mustard at the end.

                Usually goes down very well

                1. re: Simon Majumdar

                  I've made mushy peas with frozen green peas with very good results. You don't need to use marrowfat, though that's the variety most commonly used in canned mushy peas. Good idea with the mixed cabbage side dish. Kind of like a 'bubble and squeak' but sans potatoes.

                2. re: revsharkie

                  Making a salad with the peas sounds good. I think mint would go really well with the peas, but he doesnt care for mint. We are both on a radish kick,(recently learned about the french eating them with butter?) so the peas and radishes will be perfect. I might substitute a lighter dressing because the meal is so heavy.. Thanks for the help!

                  1. re: arugala

                    The dressing I do is really light...it's maybe a couple tablespoons of light mayo to a pound of peas, just to cut the bite of the yogurt. (I like plain yogurt, but can only take so much sour.)

                3. SP wants a good chutney and/or hot pepper jelly on the side.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: DockPotato

                    hmmm, how would a picalilli relish work? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piccalilli

                    to me, mushy peas or bland veggies are too similar in texture to the pie, and i think it needs something to give the meal a kick!

                  2. boiled cabbage is perfect. Or carrots.

                    1. I would think you are looking for something light and refreshing on top of a shephard's pie, which can be a little on the heavy side. It is spring here and we have been taking advantage of a strawberry/spinach salad with raspberry or sherry vinaigrette dressing. Ridiculously simple, a bag of pre-washed baby spinach, some washed and dried strawberries split in halves or quarter, some thinly sliced mild red onion, crumbled bacon or gorgonzola cheese is optional.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Diane in Bexley

                        where is this spring i keep hearing about?

                        our streets remain choked with filthy remnants of winter. :(

                        with the soft texture and rich but bland flavors of this dish, i'd want a super-crunchy side with a sharp vinaigrette. no dairy or mayo. i like the idea of radish and think of them sliced into very thin rounds with carrots shaved the same way, some scallions or garlic scapes and a simple dijon vinaigrette.

                      2. Don't forget a triffle or gooseberry fool for dessert.

                        1. My recipe has peas n carrots in it, so I'm going for refreshing apple salad and Irish soda bread.. Otherwise, I would choose carrot n raisin salad. :)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Peanuts2255

                            oh my does anyone still make that awful carrot n raisin salad, surely not.

                            1. re: nmharleyrider

                              i have made that salad, and i like it well enough.

                            1. A well-made shepherd's pie, with meat, potatoes and root vegetables, will leave you both stuffed. For a bit of luxury, put a lid of puff pastry over it.

                              I'd serve no more than a light salad with it, dressed with a tiny amount of vinaigrette to preserve the taste of the ingredients. No tomatoes, which taste like styrofoam this time of year.

                              A crisp apple for dessert is plenty.

                                1. It's classic british comfort food. I'd make something like thyme-roasted carrots, or buttered cabbage and peas.

                                  All you people suggesting salad with it! That would NEVER happen in the UK!

                                  My ex aways used to have shepherd's pie with baked beans (Heinz, of course) because it's how he's mum served it. Bless.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: helen_m

                                    "...All you people suggesting salad with it! That would NEVER happen in the UK!..."

                                    And so the colonies devolved. : )

                                    A green salad is perfect.

                                    1. re: helen_m

                                      I think the thyme-roasted carrots would be perfect. I'd banish any thought of salad.

                                    2. I'd say plenty of wine, candles, music, sorbet, and a bubble bath. Depending on where the night goes after that, it might be the best shepherd's pie he will ever remember.