Several months ago, we had a bunch of leftover pureed cauliflower “mashed potatoes.” On a whim, I decided to make a shepherd’s pie using the cauliflower as a topping. Everyone loved it, and it’s now become a regular part of our dinner rotation. For this reason, I’ll steam and puree 3-4 heads of cauliflower at a time – so we have enough for our first dinner as well as enough to top our shepherd’s pie with leftovers. As a matter of fact, aside from browning the meat, this recipe is comprised almost entirely of leftovers. Here’s how I make it:
Potato-Free Shepherd’s Pie Recipe
2 heads cauliflower, steamed and pureed
1.5 pounds ground meat (or ground meat substitute, if vegetarian)
2 pounds mixed vegetables, steamed and chopped into small bite-sized pieces
1 pound greens, chopped
Seasoning or sauce
Steam and puree 2 heads of cauliflower and set aside. This will be your topping.
In a large pan, brown the ground meat. Add the chopped steamed mixed vegetables to your pan. Add the greens, and cook until they are cooked down.
Season your meat and vegetable mixture. You can simply add spices – sometimes I only add salt and pepper and perhaps some herbs, or you can add a sauce of some kind. I’ve done everything from BBQ sauce, to Indian curry, to Thai curry, to a jar of salsa, to an assortment of other flavorings, depending on our mood. (As you can see, this recipe is extremely flexible based on whatever you happen to have on hand.)
Once everything is cooked down and seasoned, place the meat and vegetable mixture in an 8.5”x11” casserole dish. Smooth it flat, then spread the pureed cauliflower over the top.
Place it in your 350-degree oven, and bake until the top starts to brown. This takes approximately 45 minutes if your cauliflower starts out cold from the refrigerator (since I use leftovers, this is almost always the case for me).
Notes: When we have leftover vegetables that don’t seem like they’ll be eaten within a few days, I put them in a bag in our freezer. I then use these frozen leftover vegetables for soups, shepherds pie, or other recipes to which I like to add an assortment of bite-sized vegetables. If you don’t have time to steam and chop fresh vegetables and don’t have a stock of leftovers in your freezer, you could easily use frozen vegetables. You could also use frozen greens in place of fresh greens.
For our meat, this time we used ground buffalo; I simply use whatever I have on hand. I used an assortment of mixed vegetables (carrots, celery, mushrooms, green beans, broccoli, bell peppers, onions, bok choi, zucchini, yellow squash, and probably a few others – it was what I had in my freezer bags). For greens, I used half spinach and half kale.