shepherd’s pie with cauliflower and butternut mash

This recipe for shepherd’s pie is a healthy take on a classic dish and is perfect for the colder temps outside. Seasoned turkey and vegetables are topped with a cauliflower and butternut squash mash. You won’t miss your old friend potato.

shepherd's pie with cauliflower and butternut mash |

Circa mid-2012, I began a pretty serious regime to lose some weight and followed the Dukan diet strictly for about a year to achieve my goals. I personally found the diet to be a success and while some inches have crept back on since then, that’s more to do with my sweet tooth than the rules of the diet. 😉 I won’t go into the details about the diet but basically, the plan involved a schedule of alternating pure protein (P) days with protein+vegetable (PV) days during the weight loss phase. If interested, here is a list of what foods are included.

As is the downside to many diets, most meals got rather boring but once in a while, I’d create a dish that felt like a real treat and still managed to follow all the “rules”. It is how my version of a Dukan-friendly, carb-free, low-fat, healthy shepherd’s pie was born!

shepherd's pie with cauliflower and butternut mash |

This recipe for a healthier shepherd’s pie has stuck in my rolodex of go-to meals because quite simply, it’s delicious. I’ve made it for family and friends with rave reviews. There is absolutely nothing lost in the flavor department and the amount of veggies you can cram in this dish is amazing. In my recipe, I’ve listed my basic vegetable blend of onion, garlic, carrot, celery and spinach but I’ve also added vegetables like eggplant, kale and corn depending what I had in the crisper. It really is a versatile dish and it serves well for a group or makes a great meal to serve up for dinner and lunch over the course of a few days.

shepherd's pie with cauliflower and butternut mash |

Growing up in a meat-and-potatoes household, I never thought I could survive without the much-loved staple but thanks to some lifestyle changes, exploration of new foods and creativity in the kitchen, I actually don’t care much for the potato anymore. You could say, I like to save my “bad” carbs up for…dessert. 🙂 If you’ve been following along, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of butternut squash and much prefer it in fact to potato. In this recipe, I love how after mashing up the roasted squash, you get some little caramelized bits in the topping. Because of this, you won’t get the same smooth, whipped topping as a traditional shepherd’s pie but you gain a whole lot of flavor.

shepherd's pie with cauliflower and butternut mash |

The only ingredient that is not “approved” by Dukan measures in this shepherd’s pie is the Parmesan cheese. BUT — it’s just a really generous sprinkle for the size of the dish. If you want to be really good, you could omit it.

enjoy | liz | xo

shepherd’s pie with cauliflower and butternut mash
Serves 8
PREP TIME: 20min | TOPPING COOK TIME: (approx) 45 min | VEGETABLE COOK TIME: (approx) 20 min | MEAT COOK TIME: (approx) 25 min | COOKING TIME FOR PREPARED DISH: 25 min
ingredients for the cauliflower and butternut squash (top layer)
  1. 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into even cubes
  2. 1 tbsp olive oil
  3. salt and freshly ground black pepper
  4. 2 cups of cauliflower, broken into florets
  5. ½ cup + 2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
ingredients for the vegetables (middle layer)
  1. 1 tbsp olive oil
  2. 2 yellow onions, finely chopped
  3. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  4. 3 carrots, finely diced
  5. 4 stalks of celery, finely diced
  6. 1 pkg (250g) of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  7. salt and freshly ground black pepper
ingredients for the meat (bottom layer)
  1. 1 tbsp olive oil
  2. 2 lbs (2 x 454g pkg) extra-lean ground turkey (or chicken or beef)
  3. 2 tbsp paprika
  4. 1 tsp dried thyme
  5. 1 tsp dried oregano
  6. 1 tsp chili powder
  7. 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder (less or more to taste)
  8. 1 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
  9. 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  10. 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
directions for the cauliflower and butternut squash (top layer)
  1. Preheat oven to 410F. In a medium bowl, toss butternut squash with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in oven for 35-45 minutes until fork tender.
  2. In the meantime, fill a medium saucepan halfway with water and cook cauliflower over medium-high heat until fork tender. Drain.
  3. In a large bowl, combine butternut squash and cauliflower. Mash using a potato masher until most lumps have disappeared and desired consistency is reached. Stir in 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and set aside.
directions for the vegetables (middle layer)
  1. In a large fry pan, heat oil. Add onions, garlic, carrot, celery, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until tender, approx. 20 minutes. Add spinach and stir until heated through. Set aside.
directions for the meat (bottom layer)
  1. In a large fry pan, heat oil. Add meat and cook until no longer pink, breaking meat up into small bits as it cooks. Add in spices and stir until evenly coated. Cook 1 more minute. Add in beef broth, Worcestershire and soy sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, allowing liquid to cook off slightly. Remove from heat, and get ready to assemble!
  1. In a 3.3L (10"x15") rectangular dish, spread meat mixture evenly over the bottom. Layer with vegetable mixture, smoothing over and pressing down slightly to pack the layers together. Top with cauliflower/squash mixture. Sprinkle remaining 2 tbsp of Parmesan on top. Bake at 375F for 25 minutes, until bubbly around edges and completely heated through.
  2. Remove from oven. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
  1. Ensure the butternut squash and cauliflower are cooked until tender so that you don't get too many lumps in your topping.

6 thoughts on “shepherd’s pie with cauliflower and butternut mash

  1. Melanie Delude says:

    I absolutely love this idea! What a great way to switch out the potato! I am going to try this recipe on my husband, who is definitely a “meat and potatoes” guy, I think he would devour it!

    • Liz @ Teta Lizza’s Kitchen says:

      Sounds like a great plan Melanie! Let me know if you do try it out and how it goes over with the hubby. It’s always great when you find something that’s healthy AND delicious (that you can sneak by the hubby or kids)! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Sammie says:

    Ooh this looks yummy. I much prefer the use of turkey mince in place of beef. I’m not quite sure how the topping would go down, but maybe I could switch to carrots and butternut squash. Either way this is a delicious, lightened up version of a classic. I do hope cauliflower prices have dropped where you are? They are about £1 here or 3 for £1 in farm shops. Great recipe, yet again, from Teta Lizza’s Litchen. Sammie xx

    • Liz @ Teta Lizza’s Kitchen says:

      Hi Sammie – you could probably get away with just butternut squash alone but I thought I’d sneak in another veg 😉 Yes, fortunately the buzz around cauliflower prices has calmed down as have the prices. Fortunately, I was able to stock up on some organic frozen bags for a great price so I’ve got a supply should prices surge again! Thanks for stopping by!

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