Winter is not done with us. Or so says the weather people as I throw the remote at the TV. No, really. I didn’t actually throw the remote at the TV, Hubby. Our TV set is totally okay.
My instagram feed, though, is filled with stories of snow, temps below what normal should be, and lots of winter comfort foods. The comfort foods make this weather *ALMOST* bearable. Creamy tomato soup on repeat please.
But wait, I have to tell you about this masalawala shepherd’s pie. Technically, it’s cottage pie because it’s made with beef, not lamb but because remixes are my jam these days I’ll go with shepherd’s pie. I mean, have you checked out the Instant Pot butter chicken that’s already become a reader favorite this year?
Every year, I make slow cooker corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day. Totally on fleek! This year, I wanted to break with our tradition and make a low carb, all-in-one whole30/paleo meal. Hubby, you’ve been put on notice. Also, the rebel in me very much alive and wants to do away with traditional this time around. Can you blame me though? I’m all about layering in spice- take a look at the link in this window to see who you’re dealing with, here. And, shepherd’s pie can be kinda bland. There, I said it. It took me years to publicly admit that basic is good but spice is 💓.
So back to this masalawala shepherd’s pie. It’s the midwestern equivalent of a casserole- and do we ever love our casseroles. Saucy, smokey ground beef cooked with lots of delicious veggies (time to clean out that fridge!), in a rich tomatoey sauce. All topped with the fluffiest of whipped cauliflower. I mean, that sounds so cozy right now, in the middle of what’s supposed to be yet another storm for us in New England. Let’s make one thing clear though. Spice is not the same as *SPICY*. I’m talking about notes of flavor that hit your mouth and tongue in different places and bring out subtle flavors. It’s not set-your-mouth-on-fire type of spice. So those of you freaking out over the heat level, take a deep breath. You can customize the heat- add, subtract, or totally omit. Your call, my friend. Totally your call.
The best part of all shepherd’s pie are the spuds on top. You know you want those pillowy, fluffy, clould-like mashed taters. I did a thing- a delicious thing- where I took those out those coveted spuds (sorry, Hubby) and broke the hearts of shepherd’s pie lovers everywhere. But remember how I said it was a delicious thing? I made the FLUFFIEST, CREAMIEST, low-carb cauliflower “potatoes” to knock your shepherd’s pie loving socks off. I didn’t even miss the potatoes. In fact, they’re a little bit cheesy and garlicky too. ALSO, they’re a whole lot of paleo and whole30 friendly. In fact, this entire one-dish wonder is a low-carb, whole30, paleo, dairy-free, gluten free dance party. I’ll be dancing between spoonfuls over here. Let’s just have a Meredith Grey dance party and dance it out.
About that whipped cauliflower topping. I used a blender to puree steamed/boiled, riced cauliflower, with the rest of the ingredients. Swapping out heavy whipping cream with full-fat coconut milk or Nutpods is what gets you that creamiest ever result. Use the unflavored please. If you love the convenience of an emersion blender, go ahead and use it to puree the cauliflower but your mixture will be denser. It’ll still taste just as good, but you may not get the fluffiest of peaks. I used frozen cauliflower rice and simply steamed it with a clove of garlic until it was tender. That’s my shortcut way but you can use fresh cauliflower florets if that’s what you have on hand. ALSO, feel free to double the whipped cauliflower for an extra kick of luxury!
I’ve been using nutritional yeast to add a hint of a cheesy flavor in dishes for a little over a year now. I used some in the whipped cauliflower topping to give the dish a more cheesy, and complex flavor- remember, we’re doing away with the traditional here? If you’re not doing whole30 or paleo, you can sub in regular grated parmesan cheese with the same results. Or if that cheesy tang isn’t quite your thing, get rid of it entirely. No guilt or shame.
Traditionally, the meat and veggie combo is almost always made up for ground lamb, peas, carrots, and sometimes onions with some minimal spices like salt and pepper. To make this dish paleo and whole30, and just a little bit more lower carb, I replaced the peas with frozen green beans. Sometimes I add mushrooms, for an extra meaty flavor but I skipped it because I didn’t have any on hand. Also, you can make this fully meatless by adding a pound of sliced mushrooms and taking out the meat, obvi. The sauce is strong enough to hold the flavor of meat OR veggies so don’t worry about that.
FINALLY, what makes this masalawala? What IS masalawala? It literally means ‘of spice’. The additional of cumin and coriander lends a smokiness to the shepherd’s pie, while adding a complexity that makes you go back for seconds (and thirds). I added some crushed red pepper, not normally used in shepherd’s pie for a little bit of heat. You can add a little, a whole lot, or not at all depending on what you can tolerate. Finish that off with the earthiness of thyme and garlic and you’ve got a hit dish for St. Patrick’s Day. Or everyday.
FOR THE FILLING:[/br]
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp red chili flakes (optional)
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- ½ tsp cumin
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp coconut aminos (or 1 tbsp worcestershire/soy sauce)
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 cup tomato sauce (optional)
- 1-1½ cup broth
- 2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped (4 large carrots)
- 2 cups frozen cut green beans (or peas)
- 1 large onion, peeled and diced
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp minced parsley
FOR THE WHIPPED CAULIFLOWER TOPPING:[/br]
- 2 12 Oz bags riced cauliflower (or 6 cups riced cauliflower)
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (or 3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese)
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp thyme
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 garlic clove, peeded
- ¼ cup original nutpods/coconut milk (or heavy whipping cream)
- 3 tbsp ghee (or butter)
- Broth if needed to thin out potatoes
- Oven 350 for 30 mins, broil for 5 mins
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Add olive oil to a saucepan and heat on medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Saute until onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add carrots, green beans, and salt. Stir together and cook for 3 more minutes, Add ground beef and cook until beef browns, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in tomato paste, tomato sauce, coconut aminos, thyme, and parsley. Slowly add in broth, stirring to prevent scorching. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- While the filling is cooking, steam or boil riced cauliflower with the clove of garlic until tender, about 8 mins. Add into blender/food processor bowl with remaining ingredients, and blend until fully pureed, adding 1 tbsp broth at a time, if needed to get the mixture moving.
- Add beef and veggie mixture into the bottom of a 9X13 pan (use an 8X8 pan if you want a more dense, and thicker pie). Cover with the whipped cauliflower mixture and bake for 20 minutes.
- Turn the oven to broil and broil for 5 minutes to get that nice, crusty browned top.
- Serve with a crisp green salad.