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  • Writer's pictureJoe Centineo

The Sunday Cookbook: Nightshade-Free Shepherd's Pie using Mashed Yuca

Updated: Mar 24

Keep this favorite English dish in rotation at your house! Cook up a Nightshade-Free Shepherd's Pie using Mashed Yuca!

Nightshade-Free Shepherd's Pie using Mashed Yuca - The Sunday Cookbook - MacGregor Centineo - Food Allergy Recipes

Shepherd's Pie is a dish Amanda is very familiar with. From the stories she has told me, it sounds like Shepherd's Pie was a common dinner in her household like chicken cutlets were in mine. The only common factor in both those dishes is the mashed potatoes.

With Amanda's nightshade sensitivity, we needed to discover a new top layer for the pie dish. We tried the traditional orange sweet potatoes as the mashed topping but it completely altered the flavoring. Going back to the drawing board, we kicked into researching. Luckily, there are so many starchy substitute options for potatoes that aren't cauliflower (sorry cauliflower lovers out there, but mashed cauliflower would not cut it for a shepherd's pie).

We were aware of yuca, as we have seen it in the ingredients for rooted vegetable bags of chips we enjoy. However, we never considered purchasing the root and cooking it ourselves. Turns out yuca is such a great alternative for mashed potatoes, one that you can enjoy as a side dish or as the topping for shepherd's pie!



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Before we get into the recipe itself, Amanda always likes to dig into the history of these traditional heritage dishes. Even though most consider shepherd's pie to be a dish that came from Ireland, it is speculated to have originated in Scotland and England.

Shepherd's Pie first came about in the late 1700s and early 1800s, as a way to put leftovers to good use. The recipes would vary but would follow the same structure of minced meat on the bottom and a crust layer on the top. Later, it would be identified that a cottage pie uses beef while a shepherd's pie uses lamb.

A pie filled with meat that was simmered in a gravy of onions and other vegetables and then topped with a starchy crust results in something so comforting and delicious, that it is no wonder why it was recreated into other cultures' dishes, such as chicken pot pie and Pâté Chinois (Quebec's version of a shepherd's pie, that's made with beef and corn).

Nightshade-Free Shepherd's Pie using Mashed Yuca - The Sunday Cookbook - MacGregor Centineo - Food Allergy Recipes

Ingredient Notes

Yuca root, also known as cassava root, looks like a cross between a potato and a sweet potato with its long, dark brown tuberous root. It’s also an excellent source of nutrients and health benefits, with the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in Yuca.

Yuca has thick, hard, and smooth, dark brown skin with a pinkish layer just underneath. You must peel the yuca with a sharp knife, making sure to remove the pink layer as well. The pinkish layer is where the antinutrients/toxins are concentrated. If you eat an improperly prepared yuca root, you can get cyanide intoxication. Hence, unlike potatoes, you cannot cook a yuca with its skin on, and it is generally recommended to always boil the yuca first before frying, grilling, or baking with it.

If you are concerned about working with yuca, you can also make the mashed potatoes for your shepherd's pie with Japanese Sweet Potatoes or White Sweet Potatoes (as shown in the pictures above). The look and texture resemble white potatoes, except they are from the sweet potato family, making them nightshade-free! These sweet potatoes can be prepared just like regular white potatoes in terms of how you make mashed potatoes.


The Sunday Cookbook:

Nightshade-Free Shepherd's Pie using Mashed Yuca


Some things you will need!

To complete this recipe, make sure you have this equipment all ready to go:

Nightshade-Free Shepherd's Pie using Mashed Yuca - The Sunday Cookbook - MacGregor Centineo - Food Allergy Recipes

Mashed Yuca



  • 1 large Yuca, peeled

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 cup almond milk, or dairy-free milk of choice

  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil

  • Sea salt and pepper, for taste

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  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

  2. Add in your peeled Yuca. If it is too large to fit in the pot whole, cut the Yuca in half or into thirds.

  3. Boil the Yuca for 25 minutes. Check to see if it can be pierced easily with a fork. If not, boil for an additional 5 minutes.

  4. Drain the Yuca and let it cool.

  5. Remove the stem that runs through the center of the Yuca.

  6. Cut the Yuca into chunks, and place it into a food processor or powerful blender with all remaining ingredients.

  7. Blend on high until smooth and creamy.


Nightshade-Free Shepherd's Pie using Mashed Yuca - The Sunday Cookbook - MacGregor Centineo - Food Allergy Recipes

Shepherd's Pie




  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

  2. Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, about 2 tablespoons.

  3. Add carrots and onions to the pan, and saute until 3/4 done.

  4. Push the vegetables to the side of the pan, and add in your beef. Season with salt and pepper. As the beef cooks, chop it with a spatula to break it into smaller pieces.

  5. When the beef is cooked a quarter way, you can start incorporating the veggies into the mix.

  6. Add the beef broth and beet powder, and let simmer for 10 minutes.

  7. Add in your peas and mix to combine.

  8. Transfer the meat and veggie mixture to an oven-safe casserole dish.

  9. Top the mixture with the mashed Yuca, and spread it into an even layer.

  10. Using a fork, rough up the surface to create small peaks for extra browning and crisping.

  11. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top of the Yuca starts to become light brown.

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