Comfort food just got an upgrade: presenting Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Mash & a lil’ Tex-Mex flair! We’ve brightened up & slimmed down the traditional shepherd’s pie. In this version, cauliflower mash has replaced the heavy potato topping, vibrant zingy flavors have replaced the bland peas and carrots, and lean ground beef has replaced its fattier predecessor.
Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower
This recipe came about because we didn’t feel like going to the grocery store, and knew full well we had plenty of frozen meat to make use of. There were also a few organic veggies (read: too expensive to let spoil) nearing the end of their freshness-rope; a yellow bell pepper and a large head of cauliflower in particular. Ultimately, the long-neglected frozen ground beef from Costco was selected from the freezer lineup, mostly because of the amount of space it was taking up. Basically, it had to go because we needed to make room to hoard other stuff in its place, like gelato.
So with our wheels now churning, we landed on a few possible uses for the ground beef: meatballs (no, too lazy to roll stupid little balls all day), kofta kebabs (no, too lazy to soak the bamboo skewers and fire up grill), meatloaf (no, never made the stuff, isn’t that for old people), chili (no, its the middle of the summer you crazy brain you), lasagne (no, too filling), shepherd’s pie (no, too filling…. hey wait, WAIT! Yes! We can make this one work!)
What is Shepherd’s Pie?
If you are not familiar, Shepherd’s pie is basically a “meat pie.” A heavy meat pie filled with boring-ass carrots and peas, of which their nutritional values are rendered non-existent, topped with a thick layer of mashed potatoes which are heaped in butter, and then it gets baked into caloric, casserole-crap. Yay! Not exactly diet food, let’s just say that. But the problem is it still tastes reeeaaaal good when you want comfort food, which is probably why it still exists.
So using ingredients we already had on hand, we set off to lighten this bad boy up a bit. We came up this fun take on shepherd’s pie that we could feel MUCH less guilty about: a shepherd’s pie with cauliflower instead of potato, lean ground beef, and loaded with fun veggies. We could tell based on the things we were pulling that the dish was going to take on a bit of a Tex-Mex/Southwest vibe, so we just went with it and played around! We loved the end result of our shepherd’s pie with cauliflower mash, and there were plenty of leftovers. So without further ado-
Tex-Mex Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Mash
This Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower is a full meal on its own, with tons of protein and vegetables united into one delightful package. However, if you want a side dish, steamed broccoli or grilled asparagus would be great with this!
INGREDIENTS FOR SHEPHERD’S PIE WITH CAULIFLOWER:
- 1.5-2 lbs lean ground beef (we used 91% lean for this recipe); could also sub ground chuck or turkey
- (2) 12 oz bags microwavable cauliflower florets (or 1 large head cauliflower, broken into smaller florets)
- 2 small yellow onions, diced
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
- (2) 4 oz cans of diced green chilies, drained
- 1/2 jalapeno, seeded (optional if you want to add a little more heat)
- 8 oz cremini or white mushrooms, sliced (larger slices make this dish taste even ‘meatier’)
- 2-3 carrots, cut into 1″ matchsticks or diced
- 1 cup corn kernels (fresh, canned, or frozen corn will work)
- Chives (optional)
- 1/2 cup beef stock
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
- 2/3 cup cheddar cheese
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp chipotle chili powder (regular chili powder will work as well)
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- Olive oil
- 2 tsp salt, divided & 1 tsp black pepper, divided
INSTRUCTIONS FOR SHEPHERD’S PIE WITH CAULIFLOWER:
- Preheat oven to 400. Using a paper towel + olive oil, grease a 9×13 baking or casserole dish.
- Steam cauliflower in microwave according to package directions, or in steamer basket over boiling water until tender. Now time to mash! Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and 1/3 cup parmesan cheese to cauliflower mix, ensuring it gets evenly distributed (can mash using food processor, Vitamix, or by hand). Mash to desired consistency and set aside.
- In a cast iron skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over med-high heat, filming bottom of pan. Add the ground beef, cumin, dry mustard, chili powder, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Stir well to distribute spices evenly. Use wooden spoon to break the meat into smaller crumbles as you go. Cook until beef is browned and evenly cooked-through, showing no signs of pink. Remove meat using a slotted spoon, transfer to a separate dish for now.
- Brown the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. If pan seems dry, add more olive oil. Add the garlic and onions to pan and cook another 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add bell pepper, green chilies, jalapeno (if using), carrots, corn, 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, and small dash of salt/pepper. Cook another 2 minutes, stirring often to combine.
- Stir in beef broth and tomato paste. Immediately after, return reserved ground beef to pan. Stir well to coat meat with broth/tomato paste, season to taste one last time if desired, and heat through until any excess moisture has been absorbed. Remove pan from heat.
- Add veggie/meat mixture to your greased 9×13 dish. Spread evenly with a large spoon. Top with the cauliflower mash; drop by spoonful, and then spread into one uniform layer.
- Bake for 30 minutes until golden. During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, top with cheddar cheese. If more browning is desired on cauliflower crust, run under the broiler for 2-4 minutes, checking often so as not to let it burn. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Top cauliflower shepherd’s pie with chives.
- To serve: spoon into ramekins, especially if you want your man to see you for the domestic goddess you are. Alternatively: you could just put it on a plate and eat it like a normal person. (Note: We chose ramekins, because we fancy AF)
Notes on Tex-Mex Shepherd’s Pie: If you are wanting to go even further down the Tex-Mex flavor route, here are a few mix-in’s we thought of after the fact: crushed tomatoes, pinto beans, kidney beans, black olives, crumbled bacon, diced pepperoncinis or banana peppers, etc. You could also top it with diced avocado, sour cream, hot sauce… the combinations are endless!!
BONUS LIFE HACK: When this healthy lil’ cauliflower-mash shepherds pie is cooking in the oven, tackle the dishes from your food prep. 30 minutes is PLENTY of time to get everything washed (minus the cast iron skillet) and put into dishwasher. Wipe down the counters, set up the dinner table, pour a glass of wine for you and your beloved, and you should STILL have time to spare!
So tell us…. did you make this shepherd’s pie with cauliflower mash?!? What did you think? Please leave us a comment! Also please like and share, we would really appreciate it! 🙂
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