Snazzy Shepherd's Pie w cauli crustby Karen Swan

I do love a good Shepherd’s Pie.  Nothing better than filling up a ‘pretty enough to go straight on the table’ baking dish with a vegetable rich meat filling and topping it with creamy mashed potato.

That was, until I ditched the potato in favour of low-carb, mashed cauliflower! The humble cauliflower needs to win the “Vegetable Most Likely to Succeed” award; it is so versatile!

Using it in place of the potato gives the pie a lighter taste and a hint of sweetness that the little old spud just can’t offer.  I adore the taste of ghee, so used that to help flavour the mash, but you can also use lovely butter and get the same result.  Ditto the cheese.  Don’t like Parmesan?  Use a vintage cheddar.

I often find savoury mince recipes to be a little on the bland side, so I like to make mine with lots of veggies, and the addition of semi-dried tomatoes.  I love the sweet hit they bring, and cooking the vegetables and meat in a drizzle of the oil from the tomato jar, renders a lovely, herby taste.  Of course, you can omit entirely and just use regular olive oil and throw in some dried herbs like thyme and oregano.

This recipe serves four, but is  perfect for big batching!  Grab a few takeaway oven trays, big batch up the quantities and you’ve the perfect MamaBake meal contribution!

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For the filling:

500g beef mince

1/2 leek, white part only

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1 carrot, peeled

1 celery stick, diced

1/2 a big or 1 whole zucchini, cubed

1/4 cup semi dried tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup GF breadcrumbs

Handful baby spinach leaves

Worchestershire sauce – (for GF, use Spring Valley)

1 teaspoon savoury yeast flakes (optional)

1/4 cup slivered almonds (optional)

For the Cauliflower Mash:

1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets

1 tablespoon ghee or butter

2 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole

salt and pepper

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese plus extra for sprinkling.

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Method for the Filling:

For a speedy method (and my favoured one!) put the leek, garlic, celery, carrot, zucchini and semi dried tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chopped.  Don’t take it too far, you want them to still have some size to them.

Heat a drizzle of the flavoured oil from the tomatoes (or use 1 T of olive oil) in a large, deep frypan and cook over medium heat for 5 or 10 minutes until the veggies start to soften.

Turn up the heat and add the mince.

Cook until the meat browns and most of the excess liquid has evaporated.

Stir through the tomato paste, Worchestershire sauce and, if using, the savoury yeast and almonds.

Check for seasoning and adjust as needed.

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Method for the Cauliflower Mash:

Put the florets or cauliflower, a good pinch of salt and 2 garlic cloves into a large saucepan and cover with water.

Bring to the boil and simmer for around 15 minutes until the cauliflower is soft.

Drain and transfer the cooked cauli and garlic to the bowl of a food processor and add the ghee and cheese.

Turn on and mix until the mixture resembles a nice, thick and smooth mash.

Check for seasoning and adjust as needed.

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To assemble:

Spread the meat/veg mix into a medium sized baking dish

Layer the baby spinach leaves on top and top with the cauliflower mash and extra parmesan.

Bake in a 200 degree oven for around 30 minutes or until the meat is heated thoroughly and the cauliflower has started to brown (you may need to pop it under the grill to get the colour you want.

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Serve with steamed green veggies or a nice green salad.

So, we’ve made cauliflower into PIZZA, FRIED RICE AND COUS COUS……What would you like to see us make with it next?


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