Yes…… healthy Shepherd’s Pie, you read that correctly! Shepherd’s pie reminds me so much of my childhood. I used to love it as a kid. It also reminds me so much of the cold weather and how comforting it is on a chilly day. It was a rainy cold evening here in Portland the other day… so I decided that I wanted to make a classic comfort food that would have the house smelling amazing, and warm us right up. At this age I try (key word: “try”) to stay away from “stick to your rib” meals. I mean…. lets face it, that is extremely hard to do sometimes, BUT I love throwing a healthy twist into our dinners whenever I can. Not to “toot my own horn”, but this Shepards pie turned out to be absolutely mouth watering. Instead of mashed potatoes, I substituted for mashed cauliflower. Yes…. CAULIFLOWER! Now, as a cook, I can obviously taste the difference between mashed potatoes and mashed cauliflower in a second. However, we had a couple of our friends over who tend to be picky eaters and they had nothing to say, in fact they went back for seconds! Three quarters of the way through their meal they stated that the potatoes tasted different, but in a good way. That is when I had to break it to them that it wasn’t potatoes. They couldn’t believe it because they always thought they “hated” cauliflower. This is why I always stress that if you’re a picky eater or claim that you don’t like something, to give things a second try. Roasted cauliflower versus steamed cauliflower versus mashed cauliflower all have completely different tastes. Get what I’m saying? (I know… I sound like such a mom!) Well, anyways… I hope you guys enjoy this one because I was overly excited to share it! Enjoy!!
For the Filling:
- 1 lb of lean ground beef
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 cup of white onion (diced small)
- 1 cup of white mushrooms (diced small)
- 1 cup of carrots (diced/cubed small)
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cup of chicken stock (Use only 1 cup if you like your Shepherd’s Pie on the drier side)
- 1 tablespoon of beef base (I used the “Better Than Bouillon” brand)
- 1/2 cup of frozen peas
- 1/2 cup of frozen corn
- 1 tablespoon of worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon of fresh or dried parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- Salt & Pepper to taste
For the Cauliflower Topping:
- 1 large head of cauliflower (washed and cut into florets)
- 1/4 – 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder (adjust to your liking)
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
- Sea salt & Pepper to taste (start with about 1/4 teaspoon)
For the Cauliflower Topping:
- First set oven to 375°F.
- Set a large pot of water on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil.
- Add cauliflower florets directly into water. Boil until cauliflower is tender/ you can stick a fork through. DO OVER COOK. Drain cauliflower once cooked for a couple of minutes.
- Once thoroughly drained, transfer cauliflower back to the same pot or a mixing bowl.
- Add in butter, and garlic powder. Whip with a hand held mixture or pulse in a food processor until smooth (a small amount of chunks are okay).
- Once smooth, mix in parmesan cheese and salt/pepper to taste. Set aside.
For the Filling:
- In a small pot, boil cubed carrots until tender/ fork can go through. DO NOT OVERCOOK THEM. Once done, drain carrots and set aside.
- Set a sauté pan over medium heat. Add in olive oil.
- Add in onions and mushrooms and cook until soft/ golden brown.
- Once cooked — add in garlic and ground beef. Sauté until beef is cooked through/browned. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
- Next, add tomato paste and beef base into pan. Mix thoroughly. Add in chicken stock and worcestershire sauce and bring to a simmer.
- Once everything is up to a simmer, add in cooked carrots, peas and corn. Mix.
- Add onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and parsley. Taste. Add salt & pepper to your liking if needed.
- Simmer on medium/low for about 5 minutes and constantly stir mixture. Next, turn heat off.
- Spray a baking/casserole dish lightly with cooking spray to prevent sticking.
- Transfer beef filling into pan and spread evenly.
- Next, top will mashed cauliflower and spread evenly over the top.
- Transfer into 375° oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Check halfway through and rotate.
- If cauliflower topping is not golden brown by then or crisped to your liking, turn on broiler. Broil on high for about 3 minutes or until crispy.
- Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve and enjoy!