Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

The Most Satisfying Sides For Shepherd’s Pie

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Finding the most satisfying sides for Shepherd’s pie can be a bit of a daunting task.

After all, this traditional European comfort pie recipe has got a little bit of everything. While the recipe changes a little from household to household, the base is the same – hearty meats and veg, baked together in a delicious, filling casserole style that leaves your guests feeling ‘fat and happy’ when it’s time to call it an evening.

While we don’t have a shepard’s pie recipe for you today, there are things that can accompany ground beef in Worcestershire sauce, mashed potato in a cottage pie.

Thankfully, we’ve given the issue of ‘choosing a side’ seriously and given it some thought and the results are the recipes that we’ll be sharing with you today.

Feel free to use them as-is or simply to inspire you to whip up your own perfect sides. Now, if you’re ready, let’s take a look at the most satisfying sides of Shepherd’s pie!

Satisfying Sides for Shepherd’s Pie – We’ve got the goods!

In the sections below, we’ve compiled a little something for every palate and cooking skill level that we hope you will enjoy. We’ve got veggie sides, salads, and even a special dessert that we think you’re going to LOVE, so without further ado, let’s take a look at those recipes!

Easy Roasted Eggplant

Easy Roasted Eggplant with seasoned on a plate
Easy Roasted Eggplant with seasoned on a plate.

Roasted eggplant makes a fine compliment for a hearty shepherd’s pie and it’s actually quite easy to make. This recipe from Minimalist Baker ‘keeps it simple’, as all you’re going to need is 3 ingredients and 30 minutes to make it.

If you’re used to getting soggy eggplant, then we should mention now that the cubed veggies you’ll be using will actually caramelize and come out crispy – you’ve just got to follow these simple steps. Let’s take a look at how it’s done and you can see what you think!

Ingredients for 4 servings:

  • 1 medium eggplant (ends trimmed, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch cubes -approx 4 cups)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. Go ahead and preheat your oven to 425 degrees and while it’s warming up, you’ll want to get a baking sheet ready with some parchment paper lining.
  2. Place your cubed eggplant onto the parchment and you’ll want to start drizzling your olive oil on them. Give them a good toss to help even out the distribution of the oil, sprinkle on your salt, and toss them one more time.
  3. Toast your eggplants in the center rack of your oven for 25 – 30 minutes, making sure to toss them at the 15-minute mark. At this point, they should be crunchy, golden-brown on the outside, but nice and tender inside and they’re ready to serve!

Crisp Oven-Roasted Green Beans

Crisp Oven-Roasted Green Beans
Crisp Oven-Roasted Green Beans.

Another simple-but-scrumptious side for your shepherd’s pie, these crisp oven-roasted green beans from Laura at Joy Food Sunshine require only 6 ingredients and 30 minutes of your time. Once you taste how the smoked paprika and garlic play together, this is definitely a recipe that you’re going to want to keep!

Ingredients for 8 servings:

  • 2 lb. fresh green beans (approx. 8 cups, ends trimmed)
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 and while it’s heating up, toss your green beans with your olive oil in a large bowl so that their oily coat is nice and even.
  2. Sprinkle on your sea salt, paprika, black pepper, and your minced garlic, and give it all a good mix in your bowl.
  3. Move your green beans to a baking sheet, spreading them out into as evenly a layer as you can. Cook them for 15 to 20 minutes, giving them a stir at 7 – 10 minutes into your cook, and then take them out of the oven to serve hot!

Buttery Boiled and Fresh Herb Potatoes

Buttery Boiled and Fresh Herb Potatoes
Buttery Boiled and Fresh Herb Potatoes.

With parmesan cheese, dill, parsley, and butter, you’ve got everything that you need for a perfect boiled baby potato accompaniment that will pair well with your shepherd’s pie. Sometimes the simple sides are the best, and this recipe from Ajoke at the Dinner Bite will prove it to you in just 25 minutes flat. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to do!

If you have an instant pot, this might go even faster.

Ingredients for 5 servings:

  • 2 ¼ lbs. baby potatoes
  • ½ tablespoon dill weed finely chopped
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp chives (chopped fine)
  • 1 tbsp parsley finely chopped
  • 3.5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Salt and Black pepper (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Prep your potatoes with a wash, peel, and rinse, then go ahead and cut them into equal chunks, typically by just halving them but use your best judgment.
  2. Put a large pot of cold water on medium-high heat and add in your salt. Throw in your potatoes and if they aren’t fully submerged, then add a little water so that they are. Bring this to a rapid boil for about 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to a simmer, boiling your potatoes for another 10 to 15 minutes, until you can push a fork in with little to no resistance.
  4. Put on some gloves or kitchen mitts and carefully drain your potatoes in a colander, and put your large pot back onto the stove.
  5. Add in your butter to the still-hot pan so that we can start it melting and add in your dill, chives, and parsley. Cook it for about a minute this way – you’re looking for just long enough to get an intoxicating aroma, but be careful not to burn it!
  6. Mix in your drained potatoes and give them a good toss to get coverage of your spices and butter, and start adding in your parmesan, stirring it in until it melts. Congratulations – your buttery-boiled and fresh herb potatoes are ready to eat!

Perfect Roasted Asparagus

Perfect Roasted Asparagus
Perfect Roasted Asparagus.

Next up we have this Perfect Roasted Asparagus recipe, courtesy of Kate at Cookie and Kate and it’s a yummy little side that you’re sure to enjoy. With ingredients like red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese, and lemon zest it’s definitely a people-pleaser, and you can make it in a lightning-fast 15 minutes with the steps provided below!

Ingredients for 2 to 4 servings:

  • 1 large bunch (approx. 1 lb.) fresh asparagus
  • 1 to 2 tsp olive oil
  • A light sprinkle of red pepper flakes
  • Sprinkle Parmesan cheese (grated fine)
  • A small handful of finely chopped fresh parsley or mint
  • Zest and juice of ½ medium lemon (cut the remainder into wedges)
  • Salt and freshly ground Black pepper (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and while it’s heating up, place a liner on a large, rimmed baking sheet to use for your asparagus shortly. Snap off the dense ‘woody’ ends from your asparagus pieces and lay them out on your sheet.
  2. Drizzle your asparagus with 1 to 2 tsp of olive oil, so that we’ve got a very light coat in place, and sprinkle on your salt and pepper.
  3. Toss your asparagus to get as even a coat as possible and then line them up neatly in a single layer on your lined baking sheet. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes for smaller asparagus, while thicker sticks will need 15 to 20. We want them to be soft enough to be easily pierced when you test them with your fork.
  4. Sprinkle and squeeze on your remaining ingredients to season how you like – -you can add your lemon zest and juice, sprinkle on your pepper flakes and parmesan, and a little parsley to finish it off. These are best served right out of the oven, so heat them up at the last minute for the best and tastiest results!

Easy Mushy Peas

Easy Mushy Peas
Mushy Peas in small white bowl

Mushy peas are a favorite side for shepherd’s pie that you can certainly make and enjoy at home. We’ve found this recipe from Emma Fajcz at Savor the Flavour that outlines all that you’ll need to do. You will need a Dutch oven cooking pot and a 12-hour overnight soak, though, but the rest is really a piece of cake. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to do to whip up these yummy peas!

Ingredients for 9 servings:

  • 1 ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 ½ cups dried marrowfat peas (or 4 cups green split peas)
  • 5 ½ cups filtered water
  • 8 cups water

Directions:

  1. Place your dried peas in your Dutch oven, sprinkling in your baking soda on top.
  2. Add in 8 cups of boiling water and give your peas a good stirring, then cover them up and put them to the side for a 12-hour soak (or you can soak them up to 24, it’s your call, but 12 will be fine).
  3. Drain out your peas in a colander and make sure to give them a good rinse, so that we can get all of the baking soda removed from them. Add them back to your Dutch oven with about 5 ½ cups of filtered water and your salt and pepper and we’re ready to cook the peas.
  4. Put your Dutch oven on medium-high heat until they start to boil, and then bring the temperature down to low so that they will simmer. Let them simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, and you can scrape off any foam and loose pea shells as you go.
  5. After 10 to 15 minutes, your peas should be mushy, thick, and ready to serve as-is or you can add a dollop of butter, cream, or your favorite sauce. Serve warm and enjoy your mushy peas!

Sauteed Arugula with Red Bell Peppers

Sauteed Arugula with Red Bell Peppers
Sauteed Arugula with Red Bell Peppers

An excellent side dish for chicken or fish, this Sauteed Arugula with red bell peppers is also a fine pairing for serving up with your shepherd’s pie. This recipe comes to us from David at Cooking Chat Food and as it only takes 15 minutes with prep and cook combined, you can whip it up fresh whenever you get the craving (and you’ll get it, just you wait!). Read on and we’ll tell you how to make it!

Ingredients for 2 servings:

  • 4 cups loosely packed baby arugula (approx 2 to 3 oz)
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. In a frying pan, heat up 1 tablespoon of your olive oil at medium heat, and go ahead and add your red peppers to start the sauté.
  2. Within 7 to 10 minutes, your peppers should soften up nicely and start turning brown. Go ahead and add in your minced garlic and sauté these together for another minute.
  3. Start adding your arugula and stirring and we’ll want to cook it until it starts to wilt – this will typically take about 3 minutes. Add in your pepper flakes and balsamic vinegar and your Sauteed Arugula with Red Bell Peppers is ready to serve!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Sweet Potatoes.

Roasted sweet potatoes are just about perfect with shepherd’s pie and thanks to this recipe from Erin at Platings and Pairings, you can cook up some of the best in about 40 minutes time! Salty, savory, sweet, and oh-so-crunchy, you might just find that you like these all of the time. Try them out for yourself and see what you think — these potatoes really stick to your ribs!

Ingredients for 6 servings:

  • 2 lbs. of sweet potato (peeled and cut into ½” cubes (approx. 3 medium sweet potatoes))
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ¾ tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and while it’s getting ready, start arranging your sweet potatoes on a large baking sheet.
  2. Go ahead and drizzle them with your olive oil and then sprinkle on your spice, and toss them a bit to ensure that you’ve got an even coating before arranging your potatoes into a nice, even layer.
  3. Bake your sweet potatoes for approximately 30 minutes, opening up the oven to toss them every 10 minutes for more even cooking. Once they’re crispy, they’re ready to go, and you’re absolutely going to LOVE them!

Grandma’s Irish Soda Bread

Grandma’s Irish Soda Bread
Irish Soda Bread recipe on a wooden board.

Irish soda bread is a traditional option that skips the yeast and instead, leavens with soda and buttermilk!

This particular recipe comes from Sally McKenney from Sally’s Baking Recipes and she says it’s been in the family for YEARS! Take a look and be sure to give this one a try – there’s nothing quite like fresh bread to go with shepherd’s pie and this one is definitely a recipe you’ll be keeping!

Ingredients for 1 loaf:

  • 4 and ¼ cups all-purpose flour (spooned & leveled), plus a little extra (for hands and counter)
  • 1 and ¾ cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg (optional)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cubed

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and you can use a lined baking pan or a 10 – 12 inch cast iron skillet for cooking your bread in – whichever you like or have handy.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together your buttermilk and eggs and put these to the side.
  3. In another mixing bowl, combine your flour, baking soda, sugar, and salt with your whisk and cut up your butter into pea-sized chunks with your fork. Add these butter chunks in with your raisins (those are optional, tho), and mix it all well.
  4. Pour your buttermilk and egg mixture into your flour and start folding it until your dough is too thick and stiff to stir. You can work any loose, crumbly bits into a ball (just put out a little flour on the surface you’re working with) and we want to work our dough all together into one big ball.
  5. Put your dough into your skillet or baking pan and using a sharp knife, go ahead and make an ‘X’ about ½ inch deep on the top center of your dough mass.
  6. Bake for about 45 – 55 minutes, until your bread is golden brown, and poking it to test it shows you that the center is cooked. If it seems to be browning too soon, don’t worry – you can tent it with aluminum foil if you need to cook it a little longer to keep it from browning too much.
  7. Remove your bread from the over and let it cool for about 10 minutes before you transfer it to a wire rack. Congrats – you’ve just made Irish Soda bread and when you aren’t eating it with your shepherd’s pie, try it with a favorite jelly or jam and see what you think. It’s absolutely delicious!

Easy Homemade Garlic Bread

Easy Homemade Garlic Bread
Easy Homemade Garlic Bread on a wooden surface.

Shepherd’s pie is a big, messy meal, so what better to sop up that goodness than a little homemade garlic bread? This recipe from Unsophisticook gives you an easy way to whip up a quick and delicious garlic bread that will pair with your pie perfectly – read on and we’ll tell you how to make it!

Ingredients for 20 slices:

  • 1 large loaf French or Italian bread
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened)
  • 2 heaping tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and while you’re waiting on it to heat up, it’s time to mix our special spread. Get a small mixing bowl, and add in your butter, Italian seasoning, garlic, and don’t forget your Parmesan cheese!
  2. Cut your French bread loaf horizontally and coat the non-crusty side liberally with your homemade spread. Once done, put your halves onto a lined baking sheet and toss them in your oven.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes and – here’s the trick – BROIL for 2 to 3 minutes. This will crisp up the bread perfectly so that it’s brown and toasty on top, but still soft and perfect inside. Let it cool for about a minute and then cut it up into pieces 1 inch thick each. Eat it up while it’s hot and dip it in your Shepherd’s pie – you’ll be happy that you did!

Cherry Tomato Salad

Cherry Tomato Salad
Cherry Tomato Salad.

Simple, flavorful, and healthy – a nice salad compliments Shepherd’s pie perfectly. It makes you feel like you’re having a healthy meal, even though we all know that Shepherd’s Pie is one of those ultimate comfort foods that we simply can’t eat every day.

This recipe comes to us from Keren at All Recipes and it only takes 20 minutes from prep to finish (aside from chilling your dressing, although you can cheat with the freezer if you like). Here’s how it’s done!

Ingredients for 6 servings:

  • 40 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup green olives (pitted and sliced)
  • 1 6 oz can black olives (drained and sliced) drained and sliced
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 green onions (minced)
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 oz pine nuts
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Get a big bowl and you’ll want to combine your tomato halves, olives, and onions, and then put them off to the side for now.
  2. In a skillet, you’ll want to start a medium heat, and we’re going to toast our pine nuts. We want to brown them and when they get golden brown, we are doing so, start pouring in your tomatoes, onions, and olives to get them nice and warm.
  3. Mix up your dressing in a small bowl, adding in your red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano, and sugar and mixing them up well. Pour this onto your tomatoes, olives, onions, and pine nuts, and store it all away in a sealable plastic container to chill for an hour.
  4. Once it’s chilled then your cherry tomato salad is ready to serve and enjoy!

Crunchy Lemon Parmesan Salad

Crunchy Lemon Parmesan Salad
Crunchy Lemon Parmesan Salad.

One thing that Shepherd’s pie is lacking is a crisp, refreshing crunch, and pairing your pie with this crunchy lemon parmesan salad from Courtney O’Dell at Sweet C Designs can fix that problem with flavor and style! It only takes 15 minutes to make and if you like it with your Shepherd’s pie, try pairing it with chicken, fish, or your favorite veggies – it’s one salad you won’t tire of anytime soon!

Ingredients for 8 small servings:

  • 1 head Romaine lettuce (or 3 romaine hearts)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese (grated fine)
  • 2 large lemons (juiced)
  • Salt and Cracked black pepper (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Rinse and quarter your lettuce, chopping it up into small bits and discarding the not-so-yummy ends. After that, use a salad spinner or a little creative shaking in your colander to drain the water out as much as you can.
  2. In a large salad bowl, add in your lettuce and all the remaining ingredients and toss the salad thoroughly to mix it all together – it’s probably the easiest recipe here – but now you’ve got a delicious ready-to-eat salad that everyone will love!

Baked Apples

Delicious baked apples on a black plate
Delicious baked apples on a black plate.

Finding a dessert fitting for a delicious Shepherd’s pie is a tricky thing, but this recipe for baked apples from Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes will definitely end the feast on a high note. Baked apples are a nostalgic dessert that you just don’t see as much these days and it’s a shame. Give this easy recipe a try on your own and you’ll see what we mean – Nothing tastes quite like it and the smell from the kitchen is intoxicating!

Did we mention that the prep time is only 15 minutes? Take a look for yourself!

Ingredients for :

  • 4 large good baking apples (ie Gold Delicious, Jonagold, etc -pick your fav.)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans, optional
  • ¼ cup currants or chopped raisins
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ¾ cup boiling water

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and while it’s warming up, we need to remove the cores from our apples. You can use an apple corer or a paring knife, just be sure to cut out the core and leave the bottom half inch of your apple inside intact.
  2. Using a spoon, scrape the insides of our apple hollow to make sure that you’ve gotten the seeds and other clinging core bits out of your apples. We should have a hollow apple now and you want the circle on top to be about an inch wide so that they’re ready to be stuffed with our goodies.
  3. In a small bowl, mix up your raisins (or currants), brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped nuts (if you’ve got ‘em), and fill up each of your 4 apples with this mixture. Place a ¼ tbsp ‘dot’ of butter on ‘top and center’ of the sugar in your apples and we’re ready for the next step.
  4. Boil up your ¾ cup of water and pour it into your baking dish, and bake your apples at 375 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes – they should be tender, but not squishy or mushy.
  5. When your apples are done, take them out of the oven and baste each one with a spoon, and the remaining liquid in the bottom of the baking tray. Serve it up with vanilla ice cream or all on its own (but we REALLY recommend the ice cream – it’s an out-of-this-world combo!). Your baked apples are ready and if all goes well, you’ll be baking these again for many years to come!

FAQs

It’s time to call it a day, but before we wrap this up, we’ve got a few frequently asked questions that we thought you’d like the answers to before we go. Let’s take a look and if you find something useful, then be sure to ‘put it in your pocket’ and keep it!

What are some other good pairings with Shepherd’s pie?

With Shepherd’s pie you want to go with a simple formula – side bread and flavorful veggies. For instance, you can’t go wrong with Yorkshire puddings, which are basically English biscuits that are crispy and puffy on the outside, soft inside, and perfectly shaped to sop up or to hold whatever you spoon onto them.

For veggies, keeping it simple is best. Dishes like glazed carrots, any types of peas, or even just baked beans will compliment your Shepherd’s pie perfectly. You can whip up more complicated sides but that’s really your call – Shepherd’s pie has a simple beauty to it, so there’s really no need to complicate things.

What veggies go BEST with Shepherd’s pie?

If we had to pick 3, we’d have to say green beans, squash, and peas. The fresher they are, the better, and don’t go overboard with their preparation. You want them to provide a little contrast, but not enough to actually distract them from your Shepherd’s pie!

What do you drink with Shepherd’s pie?

Well, this one is a subject of contention. Some folks will tell you that a pint of a good homebrew beer is best, but if you’ve got more of a wine-type palate, then we’d recommend a nice Chianti, Pinot Noir, or another acidic red to really give the perfect mix of flavor and contrast for the meal.

You can also just target something that will compliment that yummy crust that you’ve spent so much time on, and a nice, buttery Chard will do the trick nicely!

In Conclusion

In this article, we’ve explored the most satisfying sides for Shepherd’s pie and we hope that you’ve enjoyed the journey. When choosing your sides, just remember that there’s a lot in that pie already, so it’s probably best to keep it simple – pick a nice and memorable bread to sop up the excess pie fillings and some veggies with a distinctive flavor, but not enough to distract them from your pie.

Once you find a favorite, be sure to hang on to that recipe. With a little luck, you might just make a new Shepherds pie tradition and those are the meals that we daydream about in our golden years.

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: David McLemore

David learned to cook at an early age after his mother told him that he couldn't live on pizza forever, Dave uses his modest kitchen skills to recreate sorely-missed recipes from home and to occasionally make new favorite ones from places he is visiting.

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