The Twisted Shepherd’s Pie Recipe


I never had Shepherd’s Pie until I found it in a vegetarian cookbook I got in college, but I instantly fell in love with it. When I got The Peaceful Palate at the only vegetarian conference I’ve ever attended, it was a spiral-bound book, printed up in 1992. I was happy to see that, though it’s now out of print, it did get published in 1996 and some copies are still floating around .

The rule of thumb for making any recipe is to follow the instructions the first time then tweak it the next time. As I’ve mentioned in other recipe posts, I often start with one recipe and end up with something entirely different. Jennifer Raymond’s recipes are the stark exception. Everything I’ve made from her cookbook was really good, just as it was, maybe needing a hot boost, at most. So I was really bummed when I moved to a low-carbohydrate regimen and abandoned potatoes. I’ve made a few other changes to this recipe to help adapt, but it’s still a great combination.

During the South Beach diet craze, one of the hot recipes was mashed cauliflower in place of potatoes. I made it once but wasn’t too crazy about it and it was unnecessarily involved. Fast forward to this year to a craving for Shepherd’s Pie when I had the inspiration to top it with mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes. I really like the pie, so I thought I’d give it a go. Turns out it was amazing! The cauliflower compliments the rest of the ingredients so well that it’s actually better with this way.

Twisted Shepherd's Pie

Twisted Shepherd’s Pie

Since my spouse, Michael, doesn’t eat it and potatoes don’t freeze well, I used to make a batch, bag up portions of it that fit into a small casserole dish, and freeze it. Then I’d make some mashed potatoes when I wanted to have some. It worked out well and is extra convenient now since mashed cauliflower is much quicker to prepare.

Twisted Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Sauté in a large skillet in 1 T. oil (Note: I chop and add them as I go):

  • 2 Onions, chopped
  • 1 Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 2 Celery Stalks, thinly sliced
  • ½ pound White Button Mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Carrots, sliced into coins

Add, then cover and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes:

  • 2-15 oz. cans Petite Diced Tomatoes (don’t drain)
  • 1 15-oz can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz. can Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 t. Garlic Powder
  • 1 t. Onion Powder
  • 1 t. Paprika
  • ½ t. Hot Paprika
  • ½ t. Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 T. Soy Sauce

Meanwhile, steam 2- 12 oz bags Cauliflower Florets* 2 minutes extra according to whatever the package instructs so they’re super soft. Let cool a bit, drain, add 2 T. non-dairy Butter (like Earth Balance) and enough non-dairy Milk (like unsweetened Almond, Soy, or Cashew milk) when mixing (with hand masher or mixer) the cauliflower to make it a mashed potato-like consistency. Add salt and pepper to season.

If you bake the whole recipe, spray a 9 X 13 baking dish, spread the sautéed vegetables on the bottom and layer the cauliflower mash on top. Spray with oil or Pam and sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, until the cauliflower is crusty and the juice is bubbly.

*If you opt to bake only part of it, just use one bag of cauliflower and 1 T. butter. All other instructions are the same.

Serves: Varies
Total time: ~30 minutes prep; 25 minutes baking
Accommodates: Omnivores, Vegetarians, Vegans, low-carbohydrate, keto, and paleo regimens


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