Pastel de Papas is an Argentinean dish similar to the British Shepherd’s Pie with sweet paprika added for warming spice and green olives for that delicious briny flavor. This is the ultimate comfort food. I like to serve it as a one-dish meal with steamed green beans or a quick arugula salad on the side.
Every time I make this dish, I melt in pleasure and think, “Why don’t I make this more often?” It’s the ultimate comfort food with ground beef cooked with paprika and green olives and then baked in the oven under a creamy layer of mashed potatoes.
Pastel de Papas or Argentinean Shepherd’s Pie is a true family homemade favorite. It’s the kind of dish that you’re not likely to find in a restaurant, but everyone’s mother knows how to make it – and, of course, everyone’s mother makes it best. And there are as many recipes for Pastel de Papas as there are Argentinean mothers. Kind of like Thanksgiving sweet potatoes in the US.
Pastel de Papas translates to “potato cake” or “potato casserole.” It has three different components – the ground beef mixture, the hard-boiled eggs (which get mixed into the ground beef), and the mashed potatoes. If you want to save time, you can hard boil the eggs ahead of time, and you can also make the mashed potatoes ahead of time. That way, when you’re ready to put it all together, you just need to cook the meat in a skillet with the paprika and olives, which takes less than 10 minutes. Then, add the hard-boiled eggs to the meat. Put the meat mixture into the glass baking dish. Spread the mashed potatoes on top and pop it in the oven.
Personally, I love meals that are out of sight in the oven for 30 minutes. It’s just enough time to quickly steam some green beans as an accompaniment or make a quick arugula salad with a simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing. And I still have time to do some dishes or sit down and do something else while my delicious dinner is cooking away in the oven.
Pastel de papas is naturally gluten free, but I have made this version dairy free and Low-FODMAP as well. The only dairy is in the mashed potatoes, but I swapped out the usual milk and butter for unsweetened almond milk and Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks. To make the recipe Low-FODMAP, all I had to do was use green onions in the meat mixture instead of regular onions and leave out the garlic entirely.
Why You’ll LOVE this Recipe:
- Healthy one-dish meal
- Ultimate comfort food
- Gluten Free
- Dairy Free
- Full of protein and sweet spice
Ingredients for Pastel de Papas or Argentinean Shepherd’s Pie:
- Russet potatoes
- Almond milk, unsweetened
- Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
- Green onions
- Ground beef
- Sweet paprika
- Green olives with pimento
- Hard-boiled eggs
Notes on Ingredients:
Russet potatoes – We’re looking for a nice fluffy layer of mashed potatoes to go on top of the spicy meat mixture, so russets are the best bet for that purpose. Make sure to peel them first before boiling them. I used two large russet potatoes which had a weight of about 750 grams.
Almond milk, unsweetened – I have found that, contrary to what I expected, using a lower fat milk like almond milk works better to keep mashed potatoes fluffy and smooth instead of something higher in fat like coconut milk. Plus, almond milk has a very mild flavor, so you don’t even taste it in the mashed potatoes. Just be sure to check that the almond milk you’re using is unsweetened and doesn’t have any cane sugar in the ingredients.
Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks – This is my go-to butter substitute. It has that buttery flavor and melts perfectly into the potatoes.
Green onions – This recipe uses green onions instead of a regular yellow or white onion to make the recipe suitable for a Low-FODMAP diet. If you’re following a Low-FODMAP diet, be sure to only use the green parts of the green onions, not the white parts closer to the bulbs.
Ground beef – One pound of ground beef stretches farther with this recipe with the other add-ins.
Sweet paprika – Sweet paprika is the Hungarian style of paprika, and it is as it’s name says – sweeter rather than smoky. It’s mild, and it’s a spice commonly used in a lot of traditional Argentinean dishes. It has a beautiful flavor that warms the mouth without any burn.
Green olives with pimento – These are generally labeled as “Spanish olives.” They are the big green olives that had been pitted and have little slices of marinated red peppers (pimento) inside. I love these olives, and when they’re chopped up and dispersed in the meat mixture, you get just enough of their briny flavor in every bite.
Hard-boiled eggs – Hard-boiled eggs are an excellent source of economical protein. In this recipe, they help to fill out the meat mixture, but their smooth texture also complements the texture of the ground beef and the spice of the paprika.
How to Make Pastel de Papas or Argentinean Shepherd’s Pie From Scratch
Despite its various components, this is a dish that is quick to pop into the oven on a busy weekday night if you have all of the ingredients ready ahead of time.
To make the process easier, I recommend boiling the potatoes and eggs ahead of time. Then, when you’re ready to prepare the actual meal, all you need to cook on the stove is the meat mixture, and you can do that while the oven is preheating.
First things first, boil four large eggs. Put them carefully in a small pot, cover them with water, and bring to a boil. Let them boil for 8 minutes. Then, put the eggs into a bowl of cold water, and put them in the fridge to chill them down. Once the eggs are cold, peel the shells off and chop the eggs roughly into small pieces. I like to use this really cool egg slicer/cherry pitter combo device to make the slicing fast and easy. I turn the egg in both directions to dice it.
Meanwhile, boil the potatoes. Peel the russet potatoes first and cut them up into large chunks. Put them into a large pot, and cover them with water. Add 1 Tbsp. of salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil and cook until soft and falling apart when you pierce the potatoes with a fork.
Once the potatoes are cooked, drain them in a strainer and return them to the pot. Add the almond milk and Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks. Use an immersion blender or a potato masher to mash the potatoes until they are smooth and creamy.
At this point, you could put the hard-boiled eggs and mashed potatoes in the fridge until you’re ready to complete making the dish later in the day.
When you’re ready to finish making the Pastel de Papas, preheat the oven to 425 F. Heat a skillet on the stove over high heat. Add the olive oil and the chopped green onions. Make sure that if you’re following a Low-FODMAP diet that you only use the green parts of the green onions, not the white parts closer to the bulbs.
Once the green onions are golden and soft, add the ground beef, paprika, and salt. Cook until the meat is cooked through. Then, stir in the chopped green olives with pimento as well as the chopped hard-boiled eggs.
Transfer the meat mixture into an 8” glass baking dish. Smooth the top so that it is even. Then, spoon the mashed potatoes on top of the meat mixture to create a fluffy mashed potato layer. Use a rubber spatula to smooth out the top of the mashed potatoes.
Use a fork to draw shallow lines on top of the mashed potatoes. You can do straight lines or wavy lines, whatever you prefer.
Put the baking dish in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes or until the top of the mashed potato layer starts to get a nice golden crust.
Remove the dish from the oven. Use a spatula to cut the Pastel de Papas into 6 pieces and place each serving on a plate. Eat while hot, and enjoy!
More Delicious Argentinean Recipes
- Sugar Free Alfajores Cookies
- Gluten Free Gnocchi
- Vegan Tuco Sauce
- Paleo Pollo Milanesa or Fried Chicken Tenders
Pastel de Papas or Argentinean Shepherd’s Pie – Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Low-FODMAP
- 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into big chunks
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- ½ cup almond milk, unsweetened
- 4 tablespoon Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks
- 4 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup green olives with pimenton
- 4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
- First, make the hard-boiled eggs. In a small pot, cover the eggs with water. Bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, set a timer for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, remove the eggs from the hot water and place them in a bowl of cold water.
- Peel the hard-boiled eggs. Chop them into small pieces.
- While the eggs are cooking, boil the potatoes. In a large pot, cover the chunks of peeled potatoes with water. Add 1 Tbsp. salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil and cook until the potatoes are soft.
- Once the potatoes are cooked, drain the potatoes in a strainer in the sink, and then return the potatoes to the pot. Add the almond milk and Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks. Use an immersion blender or a potato masher to puree the potatoes until smooth.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 F.
- Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil and the chopped green onions. Cook until the green onions are soft and golden.
- Add the ground beef to the skillet. Add the sweet paprika and the salt. Cook until meat is cooked through.
- Add the chopped olives and the chopped hard-boiled eggs.
- In an 8” glass baking dish, spread the ground beef mixture on the bottom. Use a rubber spatula to spread the top evenly.
- Then, spoon the mashed potatoes on top, and, again, use a rubber spatula to smooth the top. Use a fork to make lines across the top. I like to do a few wavy lines in each direction.
- Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until a golden crust starts to form on the top of the mashed potatoes.
- Remove from oven. Serve immediately. Enjoy!