Are you craving comfort foods like crazy, right now, but want to eat something that won’t put weight on while self-distancing and “staying safer at home” during the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic?
Then this nutrient rich casserole is a great way of boosting your immune system with a beautiful array of rainbow-colored veggies and a few simple ingredients that you probably have hanging out in your freezer, refrigerator and/or pantry right now.
A BRIEF LITTLE HISTORY LESSON
Did you know Shepard’s pie originated in Britain in the mid-1800’s as an affordable way to use up all the leftover cooked meat and originally had a crust made of potatoes that were plentiful to the pheasants? Or, that is was once called the “cottage pie” and made with lamb meat? Many of the impoverished lived in humble homes called cottages and lowly shepherds look after sheep. Hence, the name Shepard’s Pie.
Yes, this a very brief summary and there is a lot more you could learn about the history of the Shepard’s Pie. But I hope I piqued your interest and you will look up more interesting facts of it’s origin and the different versions. Remember, this can spark some interesting dinner conversation with the kiddo’s around the family table.
I use garlic mashed cauliflower to replace potatoes to keep it lower in carbs and calories. I find this casserole a great way of not wasting all those little leftovers from meals throughout the week while re-creating something purely delicious that even the “pickiest eaters” and “leftover haters” will enjoy. Not to mention being frugal to help stretch the household budget without sacrificing flavor.
So, let the casserole revolution begin!! Can you imagine the possibilities?!
Call your parents, call your grandparents if you are still lucky to have them. Tell them you love’um. Ask if there were any favorite casserole dishes they use to make or eat when growing up. Write the recipe(s) down and then think of ways you could adapt them with healthier ingredients. Or have a “Pantry Challenge” and create your own casserole recipe just as if you were a participant on Food Network’s cooking show Chopped.
This recipe is very adaptable for anyone practicing Vegetarianism or Veganism and I will provide suggestions at the end of the recipe in the notes section on how you can make this wonderfully delicious casserole that will surely please you and/or family any night of the week.
Cauliflower Shepard’s Pie Casserole
- 1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin or chuck beef
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 med-large head of cauliflower washed, core removed and cut into 1 1/2" pieces
- 1 cup beef, chicken or vegetable broth low sodium
- 1-2 cups water
- 1-2 tsp crushed garlic to taste
- 4 Tbsp butter or vegan substitute*
- 10 ounces frozen mixed vegetables optional: may substitute canned version/drained
- 1 cup favorite cheese or Vegan Cheese* shredded
- 3 cups fresh mushrooms* optional (protein substitute) thinly sliced
- 2 bulb green onion stalks chopped
- Saute': In a large frying pan, combine olive oil and chopped onion, cooking on med-high heat stirring frequently until translucent. 3-5 minutes
- Add choice of meat, salt, pepper and Montreal seasoning: To the pan with the onions, cooking until browned and no longer pink making sure to stir frequently to make a crumble like mixture. Drain excess liquid or grease into a separate heatproof container, cool and discard.
- Boil the cauliflower: Place cut-up cauliflower in a medium pot, add choice of broth and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until fork tender.
- Mash the cooked cauliflower: When cauliflower is fork tender, drain liquid, reserving liquid in a separate heat proof bowl.** Add 4 Tbsp of butter to drained cauliflower, mash with potato masher, then and add garlic, salt & pepper to taste.
- Add: 1/4 Cup of reserved cauliflower broth to meat mixture and stir well. **(Keep remaining cooled broth up to 4-5 days in refrigerator for soup. Or put in a freezer safe bag or container and freeze up to 3 months for future use)
- Cook frozen mixed vegetables: Follow cooking directions on steamed mixed vegetables package or if using canned version, drain liquid before using.
- Preheat oven: to 375 degrees
- Grease: 8 x 13 casserole dish lightly with olive oil or cooking spray
- Layer: Spread even layers of meat mixture, then top with mixed vegetables. Lightly salt and pepper before adding mashed cauliflower in greased casserole dish. Note: Canned vegetables have plenty of salt, even low sodium varieties so season carefully.
- Sprinkle cheese: Sprinkle with grated cheese evenly over the top of mashed cauliflower layer.
- Bake in oven: Place casserole dish uncovered in preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes until heated through and cheese is golden brown.
- Remove from oven: Sprinkle with green onions and serve.
Frozen Meal Suggestion:
- Prepare casserole as directed in freezer oven safe container. DO NOT BAKE. Cover and seal well with plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Freeze up to 3-4 months. When ready to use, remove casserole from freezer removing all plastic and aluminum foil. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. DO NOT THAW. Bake frozen casserole until completely warmed through. Approx 1 hour or more depending on oven. Remove and top with shredded cheese, return to oven and broil for 5-10 minutes until browned and bubbly. Top with chopped green onions and serve.
Stay safe and healthy everyone!