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POTATO TOPPING:

4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes

1-1/2 tsp sea salt, divided

2 tbsp butter

1/3 cup half-and-half

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

MEAT FILLING:

1-1/2 lbs lean ground beef

1 large onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2-8 oz cans tomato sauce

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh chives

1) Place diced potatoes in large pot, cover with cold water, add 1/2 tsp salt (reserving 1 tsp), and bring to a boil on stove; reduce heat to medium and cook until tender, about 12 minutes; transfer potatoes to colander and drain

2) Preheat oven to 375 degrees; set out large casserole dish (about 9×13)

3) To large skillet over medium-high heat, add ground beef, onion, and celery; cook until meat browns lightly, about 7 minutes

4) While meat is cooking, transfer potatoes to large mixing bowl and mash until smooth; add butter, half-and-half, reserved 1 tsp salt, and black pepper; with mixer, beat 2-3 minutes until smooth (Note: you may need to add a bit more half-and-half or milk depending on what you consider “large” russet potatoes); set aside

5) Drain excess fat from meat mixture; return skillet to stove and stir in: tomato sauce, mixed vegetables, salt, oregano, thyme, and pepper; cook until heated through, about 5 minutes; remove from stove

6) Spoon meat mixture into casserole dish, top with dollops of mashed potatoes, and smooth with back of spoon; loosely cover dish with aluminum foil and bake in oven 30 minutes until meat mixture begins bubbling along edges; remove foil and sprinkle parmesan cheese over mashed potatoes; cook uncovered additional 5-7 minutes until potatoes are lightly browned; remove from oven, scatter chopped chives over top, and serve