Comfort food just got an upgrade: presenting Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Mash & a lil’ Tex-Mex flair! I’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 I 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 my wheels now churning, I 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! I 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 I already had on hand, I set off to lighten this bad boy up a bit. I came up this fun take on shepherd’s pie that I could feel MUCH less guilty about: a shepherd’s pie with cauliflower instead of potato, lean ground beef, and loaded with fun veggies.
I could tell based on the things I was pulling, that the dish was going to take on a bit of a Tex-Mex/Southwest vibe, so I just went with it and played around! I 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, imparting 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!
SHEPHERD’S PIE WITH CAULIFLOWER INGREDIENTS:
A quick synopsis of what is in this lovely and lively Tex-Mex Shepherd’s Pie recipe: lean ground beef, cauliflower, orange (or yellow) bell pepper, cremini mushrooms, carrots, jalapeno, diced green chiles, corn, onion, garlic, and chives! The ground beef and zingy vegetables are accentuated by tomato paste, beef stock, cumin, chili powder, dry mustard, and crushed red pepper. And finally, parmesan and cheddar cheeses elevate this shepherd’s pie with cauliflower mast, perfectly rounding out the Tex-Mex flavor and finishing it all off!
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!Print
Comfort food just got an upgrade: presenting Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Mash & Tex-Mex flair! A brightened-up & slimmed-down version of traditional shepherd’s pie. Cauliflower mash replaces the heavy potato topping, vibrant vegetables replace bland peas & carrots, and lean ground beef has replaced its fattier predecessor.
- 1.5–2 lbs lean ground beef (we used 91% lean); could also sub ground chuck or ground turkey
- (2) 12 oz bags microwavable cauliflower florets (or 1 large head cauliflower, broken into smaller florets)
- 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced (optional, if you’d like a bit more heat)
- 8 oz cremini or white mushrooms, sliced (tip: chop into larger slices to make this dish taste even ‘meatier’)
- 2–3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ matchsticks (or shredded in food processor)
- 1 cup corn kernels (fresh, canned, or frozen corn will work)
- 2 small yellow onions, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Chives (optional)
- (2) 4 oz cans of diced green chilies, drained
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup beef stock
- 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
- 2 tsp salt, divided & 1 tsp black pepper, divided
- Olive oil
- 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. Tip: begin on Step 3 (ground beef) while cauliflower is steaming in microwave. Once done, place steamed cauliflower in large bowl, along with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, and 1/3 cup parmesan cheese. Stir to combine. Mash cauliflower by hand 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.
- In same pan, 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 cast iron pan from heat.
- Add veggie/meat mixture to your greased 9×13 dish. Spread evenly with a large spoon. Top with the cauliflower mash (dropping by the spoonful), and then spread mash into one uniform layer.
- Bake for 30 minutes until golden. During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, top with cheddar cheese and return to oven. When timer ends, remove shepherd’s pie from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Scatter a small handful of parmesan and cheddar cheeses to form top layer, then finish your shepherd’s pie off with a pretty layer of sprinkled chives.
- To Serve: spoon into ramekins, especially if you want to be recognized as the domestic goddess you are, hashtag #fancyAF. Alternatively: you could just put it on a plate and eat it like a normal person. Either way.
- A note on Shepherd’s Pie/Tex-Mex flavors: If you are wanting to go even further down the Tex-Mex flavor route with this shepherd’s pie, 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!!
- Method: Oven
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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