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Cottage pie with a Mediterranean twist


Seasonal Paleo and gluten free recipes 

Cottage pie with a Mediterranean twist

Laura | Lau Sunday cooks

When I made this cottage pie last Sunday, I posted a snap shot on my Instagram feed because I used the recipe for one of my assignments for a Aiala Hernando food photography and styling course I’m participating on... which I am completely hooked and loving by the way !

When I got to work the next day, a colleague told me:  hey Laura, I saw on your Facebook you made Shepherd pie yesterday!

What the hell is shepherd pie? - that sounds to me like something you make out of dog’s food ?  Obviously I didn’t say that out loud... I have learned of the dangers when making jokes about other countries traditional dishes.

The truth is, I didn’t know the difference between shepherd pie or cottage pie... so I asked my colleague.  Traditionally shepherds pie is made with fresh ground lamb, (lamb = shepherd), or minced leftover lamb from Sunday roast. (I wonder who has leftover of lamb?! ).  But if you use beef mince instead, the dish is called Cottage pie.  

Curiously, I made the cottage pie the same day I made my scones.

- Two traditional British dishes on the same day, Laura?- S said, so joyfully. - Of course, I've made them especially for you.- Aw, you're the best!- Good - I thought - my plan to get the slow cooker is going pretty well. If I keep working to my evil plan schedule, I should probably get given it for Christmas. I was so immerse in my thoughts that, apparently, I was smiling. Like this. - Why do you have a cheeky smile on your face?- Err, me? Err.. just because I’m glad you are happy, my sweetie pie!

Oh, talking about pies, here is my Cottage pie made with a Mediterranean twist.

Mediterranean Cottage pie | Lau Sunday cooks

Cottage pie is one of the quickest and easiest supper dishes and, also, a perfect comfort food for the long, dark and cold winter days.

While the British cottage pie recipe is filled with vegetables such as peas, leeks, celery and swede, I used for the filling carrots, mushrooms and plenty of flavourful herbs and spices to give it a Mediterranean touch.

As I said in one of my older recipes, I eat white potato. Purist Paleo readers, forgive me, please.  However, I only ever use them when they are only really needed,  like in this dish.

Mediterranean Cottage pie | Lau Sunday cooks

To achieve the perfect pie cottage, it requires: good quality beef, juicy slow cooked meat and crisp tasty mashed potato. 

However, what makes the pie so attractive is its versatility and how common it is to find variations such as; a pie make with mashed cauliflower on top instead of potato, or a pie containing a layer of breadcrumbs or grated cheese on top. I even came across a vegetarian cottage pie, where the meat is substituted for tofu. 

This Mediterranean cottage pie stands out because of all herbs and spices that went in to it, making it the tastiest cottage pie you will ever have.  To start with I used za’atar with the mashed potato, a traditional eastern Mediterranean spice blend made from sumac, thyme, sesame seeds, marjoram, oregano and salt.  If you can find it, good, if not, I have put on the recipe the amounts to make your own za’atar.

You will want to make it about a day in advance and keep it in the fridge, as all the spices need time to soak into the meat to make the extra special taste. 

To serve it, try pouring on top a little bit of gravy as well.

So Enjoy!

Mediterranean Cottage pie  | Lau Sunday cooks


Prep: 20 mins | Cook: 1 hr, 15 mins | Serves 4


1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 small carrot, chopped

pinch of cayenne pepper

10 cardamom pods, green pods discarded and black seeds ground

10 cloves, ground

2 tsp cinnamon

500g ground lean beef

1 tbsp tomato purée

500ml beef or chicken stock

1kg floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper

3 tsp za’atar (or a mix of marjoram, oregano, ground sumac, cumin and sesame seeds)

small pack parsley, chopped


  1. Heat oven to 200C/400F. In a large saucepan heat the oil and add the onion, garlic, carrot, cardamon pods, cloves, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Cook, covered, for 10-15 mins on a low heat until softened. Add a little of water if the onion starts to brown.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the ground beef in a large frying pan until brown. Stir in the onion mixture, add the tomato purée and stock and simmer for 30 mins until most of the stock has been absorbed.

  3. Then, peel and cut the potatoes into chunks. Place them in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Season with salt. 

  4. Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for 20 mins. Drain the potatoes and mash with za’atar.

  5. When the beef is cooked, take off the heat and stir in the chopped parsley.

  6. Put the beef mixture on a baking tray, then top each with mashed potato and rough up the top with a fork.

  7. Cook in the oven for 30 mins. Enjoy!

By Laura | Lau Sunday cooks