Cauliflower Shepherd’s Pie
November 4, 2020
By Elizabeth Palmer Califano

Common throughout the United Kingdom, shepherd’s pie was originally devised as a way to use up leftover meat. Now a delicious dish in its own right, I’ve re-worked this versatile recipe with a creamy and cheesy cauliflower topping to replace the traditional potato mash. Despite its humble appearance, cauliflower boasts an impressive nutritional profile. High in fiber to improve digestive health, rich in antioxidants shown to protect against cancer, and containing sulforaphane which is protective against inflammation as well as helping reduce high blood pressure, cauliflower is a no-brainer to add to your weekly recipe rotation. For a vegetarian version of this recipe, swap in cooked brown lentils for the ground meat.


2 tablespoons butter or ghee, divided
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup button or cremini mushrooms, minced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 pound ground beef (swap in ground lamb, turkey, or chicken if desired)
1 tablespoon tomato paste or ketchup
½ cup vegetable or beef broth
½ cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper to taste
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
¼ – ½ cup regular or non-dairy milk
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
Chopped parsley, to garnish (optional)

Shepherd's pie on plates with a green salad


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large Dutch oven or skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, celery and carrots and stir well. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring often, until the mushrooms have cooked off their liquid and the onions are softened.

2. Add the ground beef and break it up into the vegetable mixture. Cook for 4-6 minutes, stirring often to continue to break up the beef.

3. Add the tomato paste, broth and peas, along with another pinch of salt and pepper, and stir well to combine. Turn off the heat and transfer the mixture to a casserole dish, smoothing it into an even layer.

4. In the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the cauliflower, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes until the cauliflower is fork-tender.

5. In a blender, puree the cauliflower with ¼ cup milk, adding more as needed until you have a smooth but still thick consistency. Turn off the blender and stir in the cheese by hand.

6. Smooth the cauliflower mixture evenly over the beef, running a fork over the cauliflower if desired to decorate.

7. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the edges of the cauliflower are golden brown, and the beef mixture below is bubbling. Garnish with parsley if desired, and enjoy!

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About the Author

Elizabeth Palmer Califano
Elizabeth is a graduate of Hamilton College and The French Culinary Institute, as well as an avid world traveler and dinner party hostess. For more information, visit her website: