Thursday, May 15, 2014

Shepherd's Pie Made Healthy

Shepherd's Pie is one of my favorite European fares. I like it because it provides a balanced meal with carbohydrates, proteins and vegetables. It is an easy tasty one pot dish.

Traditionally, Shepherd's Pie is made by layering minced lamb meat with vegetables, topped by mashed potatoes. In America, minced beef is used instead of lamb and it is called as Cottage Pie. I have given a healthy twist to the Shepherd/ Cottage pie by replacing using minced turkey instead of beef/ lamb and replacing the mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower! Surprised?? Yes, mashed cauliflower. You cannot tell the difference! I have also topped it with a little mozzarella cheese for extra taste. You could absolutely skip the cheese. My hubby and kids love the cheese.

Here is the recipe for my Healthy Version of Shepherd's Pie!

Servings: 8


For the mashed cauliflower:

Cauliflower: 1 large head, florets separated and washed.
Whole milk or half & half: 1/4 cup
Butter: 1 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp
Pepper powder: 1/4 tsp
Fresh Parsley: 1/2 tbsp chopped

For the turkey layer:

Minced turkey: 1 lb
Onion: 1 medium chopped fine
Garlic: 2 cloves, minced
Ground pepper: 1/2 tsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Oregano: 1/4 tsp
Thyme: 1/4 tsp
Parsley : 1/4 tsp
Chilli powder: 1/4tsp ( for little bit of bite;))

For the vegetable layer:

Butter: 1 tsp
Salt: 1/2 tsp
Ground pepper: 1/4 tsp
Frozen mixed vegetables: 1 lb

Mozzarella cheese: 2-4 oz shredded it sliced.


Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.

For the mashed cauliflower:

Boil water in a 4 quart saucepan with 1 tsp salt.

Add the cauliflower florets into it and cook until it is well cooked ( soft and mushy when touched with a spoon), usually around  10-12 minutes.

Now drain the water and mash it well with a potato  masher. 

Now whisk in all the ingredients listed under 'for the mashed  cauliflower' and keep aside.

For the turkey layer:

Heat a wok/ frying pan on medium heat. 

Add 1 tbsp oil, chopped onions, garlic and sauté until the onions becomes slightly golden brown.

Now add the minced turkey, salt , pepper, chilli powder and herbs. 

Cook  until the turkey is well cooked, usually 15-20 mins. 

Turn off the flame and keep aside.

For the vegetable layer:

Melt butter in a frying pan/ saucepan on medium heat. 

Add the frozen vegetables , salt an pepper and let it cook until the veggies are tender. Usually around 10 mins.

Turn off the flame and keep aside.


Take a rectangular glass oven-proof pan ( I used pyrex 9"x11" ) and put the turkey layer on the bottom.

Now layer the veggies next and then the mashed cauliflower on top.

 Top it with shredded/sliced mozzarella cheese.

Place it in the center rack of the oven and bake it for 20-30 minutes until the cheese has melted and is golden brown.

Serve hot!


Cooking made easy:

In the above dish, you can skip the cheese entirely. When done the top layer of the mashed cauliflower will be browned.

You can add the mixed vegetables directly to the minced meat when the meat is halfway cooked. This would work  if you are using fresh vegetables. If you are using frozen, you would have to thaw it first and drain the extra water before adding it to the meat. If you don't drain the excess water, the meat layer will become runny!

Tip for healthy living:

Red meat has been found to be one of the aggravating factors for several health issues. Red meat consumption increases the uric acid levels in the body leading to increased pain in people with gout. Red meat is also supposed to be the cause for increased joint pain in patients with arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis. Red meat consumption also leads to increased cholesterol levels leading to heart problems, increased blood pressure and vascular issues like atherosclerosis causing blood clots and blood vessel blockage.All this results in reduced lifespan. Hence, it is best to avoid red meat and switch to healthy sources of meat like lean turkey, chicken and fish.

Food for thought:

Question everything. Learn something.  Answer nothing. Euripides