Shepherd’s pie, I now realize, is the food equivalent of the cliché “he’s not especially good looking, but he’s got a great personality.” And if this version – Mashed Cauliflower Shepherd’s Pie – were in high school, it would definitely be voted best personality. It won’t be the prettiest dish you’ll ever put on the table, but it will certainly be a crowdpleaser. What makes this Shepherd’s Pie special and full of personality is the mashed cauliflower. I am desperate to finally lose some baby weight, not to mention some chocolate milkshake weight (why did we choose to live so darn close to Chick-Fil-A??), so making healthy substitutions has become a priority for me.
Usually, swapping something delicious, like homemade mashed potatoes, for something healthy, like mashed cauliflower, makes for a subpar meal, right? Um, wrong. The cauliflower was delicious in this dish, and much more flavorful than the potatoes. So I’ve swapped calories for flavor – win/win!
Additionally, I swapped out the beef and used ground bison. Bison has fewer calories, less fat and is higher in protein. And, because I was on a health rampage and seemingly couldn’t be stopped, I threw in some peas and corn for an extra dose of veggies.
I made two versions of this dish to be able to compare the potatoes versus the cauliflower from preparation and taste points of view. In both cases, the Mashed Cauliflower Shepherd’s Pie came out on top. I used Green Giant Frozen Mashed Cauliflower for one dish, and made homemade mashed potatoes for the other. So of course the mashed cauliflower was easier to prepare. Additionally, Granny’s recipe called for making mashed potato florets on top of the casserole. Have you ever tried to pipe hot mashed potatoes onto a dish? Don’t bother. Trust me and use the cauliflower.
Maybe you have Irish heritage, or maybe you are just a fan of green beer, shamrocks, lucky charms or a musical brogue. Regardless, you probably enjoy a good helping of Shepherd’s Pie. I highly recommend making this version as you say “Sláinte!” on March 17th. And, just maybe, I’ll be able to say “See ya never!” to some of this baby/milkshake weight. May the luck of the Irish be with you this year – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
And the winner of best personality goes to…
This delicious alternative to the traditional Irish dish is healthier and more flavorful! It is also extremely easy and a sure crowdpleaser!
- Small Head Green Cabbage about 1.5 lbs
- 1 Medium onion
- 8 oz sliced mushrooms
- 3 T olive oil
- 1 lb. ground bison or ground beef
- 1 oz can tomato sauce
- 1/2 t sugar
- 1 pkg frozen Green Giant Garlic and Herb Mashed Cauliflower
- 1 small can sweet peas
- 1 small can whole kernel corn
Thinly slice enough cabbage leaves to equal 7 c loosely packed, making sure to discard the tough ribs. Chop onion and thinly slice mushrooms.
In 12 inch skillet over med-high heat, in 2 T olive oil, cook cabbage 1 minute stirring constantly. Add salt and pepper to taste and 3/4 c water. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook 15 minutes stirring occasionally until cabbage is tender. Spoon cabbage into a 11"x7" casserole dish.
In same skillet, over med-high heat, add 1 T olive oil and cook ground bison, onion and mushrooms until all pan juices evaporate and meat is browned. Stir in tomato sauce, sugar, corn, peas and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon mixture over cabbage.
Preheat oven to 375. Prepare the mashed cauliflower according to package directions and let stand until thick.
Pour the mashed cauliflower over the casserole and bake for 35 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.