Shepherd’s Pie

Shepherd's Pie

This is a filling meal that makes great leftovers. It takes a bit of planning because you’ve got to cook/prep the ingredients before assembling and baking. Sometimes it can feel like a waste to have to put hot food in the oven to bake for another 30 minutes when it’s fresh off the stove and tastes great as-is. But trust me, the time in the oven is really what pulls it all together, otherwise you’re just eating an inconveniently mini-bite-sized stir fry and mash. The food just needs to get to know each other and bond (so it doesn’t fall into a pile when served). Plus it gets crispy on top – a little crunch is good! I’m a texture fan.

I substituted cauliflower mash for the potatoes, which I encourage for their added fiber and vitamin content, but it’s a matter of taste and ease. I get it, sometimes food processors are a pain – if mashed potatoes are your jam, go for it! I’ve made this dish with colored cauliflower too (yellow) and it was just as tasty then too.

Shepherd’s Pie

Cauliflower Mash Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 3 T butter (garlic butter, if available)
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • cheddar cheese, optional (I used about 1/8 cup)

Filling Ingredients:

  • 20(ish) oz. ground beef (1 package of their organic beef, for you Costco shoppers out there)
  • 2 T oil (I used coconut oil, but any will do)
  • 3 cups frozen veggies
  • 2-3 T worcestershire sauce
  • 3 T water
  • 2 T corn starch
  • salt/pepper to taste

Directions:

Chop the cauliflower into florets and steam. You want it to be extremely well-cooked. To the point where it takes no effort whatsoever to pierce through. This is what will give them a mashed potato consistency when processed. (I’ve tried roasting cauliflower to create a cauliflower mash but it didn’t turn out as mashed potato-like as when they were steamed through.)

If you don’t have garlic butter, that’s fine, you can steam some garlic at the same time. Just make sure to remove the skin when you add to the cauliflower mash.

While the cauliflower is steaming, start cooking the filling. Mix the ground beef with salt and pepper to taste. I like a blend of white pepper and freshly ground black pepper, but this is up to you! Heat up the oil in a pan and when it’s nice and hot, add the ground beef and sauté.

Cook the veggies. Microwaving them is a time-saver and saves you from having to wash another pot =) I like sticking them in the microwave with a few teaspoons of water until tender (5-6 minutes depending on your microwave). It’s a quick way to steam them and by the time they’re nuked, it’s prob about time to add them to your ground beef.

You want the ground beef to be about 80% cooked through when you add the veggies. Drain the water from the veggies before adding and then mix ’em all up together. Turn the heat down to low and prep the sauce/gravy.

Mix the worcestershire sauce, water, and corn starch in a small dish or cup so there are no lumps. Add this mixture to your pan, turn the heat back up to medium, and watch gravy appear as you mix (the cornstarch will cook and thicken). Mix it all up so the filling is even all around. Turn off the heat and set aside.

By this point the cauliflower should be cooked through. Add the florets to a food processor, along with whatever you’d usually add to mashed potatoes. Garlic butter and a bit of cheese were my choices, but regular butter and steamed garlic will do in a jiffy. Feel free to add a bit of broth, cream, or milk if your into that too. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Here comes the part where the flavors come together!

Find yourself a dish/a few dishes. It can be a 9×13 casserole dish like I used. It can be smaller individual portion-sized ramekins. Whatever floats your boat. Add some filling to the dish until it’s about half full, then top it off with cauliflower mash! Make sure the mash goes all the way up to the edges of the dish so the filling/sauce doesn’t bubble up.

Stick these pies in a 400°F oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the top is just crispy. 

Let it cool, and enjoy!

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not potato salad (and a haiku)

not potato saladThis is basically a potato salad sans the usual star player. Lately, my family has been dining alfresco and potato salad is a summertime staple for these sorts of settings. Only, it hasn’t been making an appearance because Jon and I have been trying to keep to a low-carb diet (which I’ll admit I’ve broken horribly this past week). Since potato salad is one of my dad’s favorite picnic dishes, and we had a Hollywood Bowl concert/picnic to come, I was determined to find a way to make one we could all enjoy together.

The answer came in a cruciferous crop: cauliflower! One of the most amazingly versatile vegetables that can be used to make mash, “rice,” pizza crust and more can yet again, fill in for a what seems to be an essential ingredient in a traditional recipe. Obviously this is no traditional potato salad, but subbing cauliflower for potatoes makes this one much healthier. Cauliflower has 1/3 (or fewer!) the calories, is low on carbs, and is a great source of vitamin C (antioxidants!), B vitamins (helping you convert food into energy!), and vitamin K (anti-inflammatory!). Research from the Linus Pauling Institute has shown that the glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables can help eliminate carcinogens and prevent DNA damage that causes cancer – how’s that for a detox?

I thought I was going to write an ode to cauliflower, but found a haiku more appropriate. For one, it’s much shorter. But don’t confuse shorter with simpler–it just means you can get to the recipe more quickly 😉

Potato? Not now

Cauliflower plays hero

In salad sans spud

Not Potato Salad

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 3 or 4 hardboiled eggs, diced
  • 3 strips of bacon, extra crispy please
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ to 1 cup of green onion, chopped (depending on how much you like onion. I love onion)
  1.  Chop/dice your cauliflower into bite-sized pieces (however chunky or fine you like your potato salad). Don’t worry about them looking perfect. Cauliflower can get crumbly and this is TOTALLY OK.
  2. You will blanch the cauliflower until it’s the consistency of boiled potatoes. Have an ice bath ready. Add the cauliflower to a pot of boiling water and bring it back to a boil. Keep it there for 2-3 min, until the cauliflower is just tender. Check to see if you can stick a fork through a piece easily. If so, drain the cauliflower and get it in the ice bath to stop the cooking!
  3. While the cauliflower is cooking (or while it’s sitting in the ice bath, up to you), add the mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, and paprika to a large bowl and mix together.
  4. Add the diced egg and well-drained cauliflower to the large bowl and mix well.
  5. Add the chopped onion and crumble the bacon on top. If you want to be fancy, you can save some onion and bacon bits for garnish when you serve it. Mix well again.
  6. Stick in in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors chill and get to know each other.
  7. Share your not potato salad (and maybe the above haiku) with friends and family.