Lighter Shepherds Pie

Rule #292: Garth Brooks, lamb, and cauliflower make for one delicious St. Patty’s Day!

With St. Patty’s Day just around the corner, I can’t help but rejoice in the deliciousness of the Irish folk. Traditionally, Shepherd’s Pie is made with a hearty ground lamb filling and topped with a creamy mashed potato crust. I’ve kept the lamb (you can also sub for ground beef if you’re not feeling like you want to be that into the holiday), but I’ve subbed some Cauliflower Purée instead of the mashed potatoes. That brings this delicious, comforting pot ‘o gold to just about 375 calories per serving and just 8g net carbs! That’s sure to make that green beer taste even better!

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Please tell me y’all know Garth Brooks’s song “Ireland”. Please also tell me that you can’t help but BELT IT OUT whenever it comes on! Corey knows every bloomin’ word, and I plan on forcing Brooke to do the same. It makes me feel Irish by proxy.

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Fun Fact: Jon Boy is of Irish descent. So technically, I’m Irish by proxy, no?

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This Lighter Shepherd’s Pie is a spin on the Traditional Shepherd’s Pie. Really the only difference is the Cauliflower Purée topping. Traditional Shepherd’s Pie uses ground lamb while Cottage Pie uses ground beef. I soooooo encourage you to try the ground lamb! It’s unbelievably tender and delicious! We find ours at our local grocery store, but ground beef works in a pinch, too. (But seriously… try the lamb.)

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Lighter Shepherd’s Pie Base

First, sauté a diced yellow onion and some chopped carrots in some olive oil over medium high heat for about 8 minutes, until softened.

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Then, add in some garlic and cook another 30 seconds.

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Add in 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika and 2 lbs. of ground lamb (or ground beef). We love the flavor of lamb, but I know that’s not everyone’s jam. Cook until meat is browned (about 8 minutes).

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Make a hole in the center of the lamb mixture.

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Using some paper towel, carefully soak up any excess fat from the ground lamb. This usually takes me 2 wads of paper towel to get most of the fat up.

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In the same hole, add in 1 tbs. tomato paste. Cook until the tomato paste is fragrant (about a minute), then stir it into the lamb mixture.

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Sprinkle 3 tbs. of flour over top of the lamb mixture.

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Add in some dried or fresh rosemary and thyme, 2 tbs. Worcestershire, and 2 cups of beef stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low.

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Add in 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, 3/4 tsp. Kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Cover and cook until mixture thickens (about 15 minutes).

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Low Carb Cauliflower Purée | Cauliflower Mash Topping

You can make this low carb Cauliflower Purée or Cauliflower Mash (call it what you want, but trust me – you won’t know there’s cauliflower in it) while making the filling for this Lighter Shepherd’s Pie. You can also go ahead and make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge, covered, for up to 2 days.

So, here’s the dealy-O. You cook your cauliflower florets in 3 different ways:

  1. Buy 2 (16-oz.) bags of frozen cauliflower that steams in the bag. Follow package directions and allow to cool slightly.
  2. Boil 2 heads of cauliflower florets until fork-tender (about 30 minutes). Drain and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Use a vegetable steamer like this one to steam the florets until fork-tender (about 30 minutes).
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In a food processor, combine the cooked cauliflower, 1 egg yolk, and 1 oz. cream cheese. Pulse until everything is well blended.

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Next, blend in 6 oz. of shredded cheddar. NOW, since this is a traditionally Irish dish, I highly recommend an Irish cheddar like this one. It’s salty, has a little bite, and pairs perfectly with the hearty filling. Of course, you can use regular mild cheddar or even sharp cheddar cheese. Also pulse in 3/4 tsp. Kosher salt and 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper.

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Then, drizzle in 2 tbs. of melted butter that’s been slightly cooled. If you drizzle in hot buttah, you run the risk of messing with your pretty little egg yolk you’ve already put into the cauliflower purée.

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Oh yes, mi laddie. This be the finest pot ‘o gold me eyes have ever seen. (Not sure if that’s Irish or pirate talk.)

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Shepherd’s Pie Assembly

Now that you’ve got your hearty ground lamb mixture for the filling, spread on your cheddary, creamy cauliflower purée into an even layer. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, then broil for 3-5 more minutes until golden bubbly on top.

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Ohhhhhh yes. All the goodness of a comforting Shepherd’s Pie with WAY fewer calories and carbs. Ain’t nothing arseways about this Pot ‘o Gold.

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This delicious pot of Irish goodness makes 8 good sized servings coming in at around 375 calories each, 26g of fat, 8g net carbs, and 18g of protein. It’s perfect for a low carb or Keto diet!

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I’m telling y’all. No one will be the wiser if you don’t tell them the topping is made with cauliflower and not potatoes like the traditional Shepherd’s Pie. Go ahead, give it a go!

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I hope your St. Patty’s Day is filled with the most delicious, hearty, and joyful food (and green beer) that you can handle!

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I know we’ll be digging into this guilt-free Lighter Shepherd’s Pie and imagining we’re in the mountains of Ireland. And most definitely listening to Garth Brook’s “Ireland” because who can pass up that ballad?

Lighter Shepherds Pie

Lighter Shepherd’s Pie

For the Topping
2 medium heads cauliflower, chopped (florets only) OR 2 (16-oz.) bags frozen, steamable cauliflower
6 oz. cheddar, shredded (we use an Irish cheddar, but regular is just fine)
1 large egg yolk
1 oz. cream cheese
¾ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tbs. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

For the Filling
2 tbs. EVOO
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. lean ground lamb
½ tsp. smoked paprika
1 tbs. tomato paste
3 tbs. flour
2 tbs. Worcestershire
2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried rosemary)
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped (or ½ tsp. dried thyme)
2 cups beef stock
1½ cups frozen peas
¾ tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

To Make the Topping – Can be made up to 2 days ahead of time (store covered in the fridge)

In a steamer, steam the cauliflower florets until fork-tender, about 30 minutes. OR In a large pot of salted water, boil the cauliflower florets for 30 minutes, or until fork-tender. Drain well. OR Cook 2 bags of frozen cauliflower according to package directions (usually 6 minutes each). Allow cauliflower to cool slightly.

In a food processor, combine the cauliflower, shredded cheddar, egg yolk, and butter. cream cheese, and egg yolk. Puree until cheese is melted and cauliflower is smooth. Add in the cream cheese, ¾ tsp. Kosher salt, and ¼ tsp. ground black pepper, and puree until smooth. While the food processor is on, slowly drizzle in the melted butter until combined.

To Make the Filling

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a large Dutch oven or oven-proof pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until glistening. Add the onion and carrots and cook until tender, stirring occasionally (about 8 minutes). Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute), stirring occasionally. Add the ground lamb, crumbling to break the pieces into smaller bits. Sprinkle the paprika over the lamb mixture. Cook until the lamb is browned, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes).

Make a little hole in the middle of the lamb mixture and use a paper towel to soak up any excess fat (usually takes 2 times to get up all the fat we don’t want). In that same hole, place the tomato paste in the center. Brown the tomato paste for just a minute until it’s fragrant, then stir the tomato paste into the whole mixture.

Sprinkle the flour over the whole thing and stir to combine. Add the Worcestershire, herbs, and beef stock. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium-low. Stir in the peas, ¾ tsp. Kosher salt and ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Cover and allow to cook until the mixture thickens (about 15 minutes).

Spread the cauliflower mixture evenly on top of the lamb mixture and place, uncovered, in the oven. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes until the cauliflower starts to brown.

Turn on the broiler and broil for about 3-5 minutes, or until the cauliflower gets golden-brown on top. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Garnish with parsley. Serve with Worcestershire.

To make ahead
Assemble the whole pie and keep in a 200 degree oven until you’re ready to serve. Broil the top for 3-5 minutes until it’s golden-brown.

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