Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower, Parsnip and Carrot Mash

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Do you have one of those friends who makes you laugh hysterically, to the point were you feel like your’e about to pee your pants?  One of my best friend’s Olivia, is that kind of friend.  She’s smart (a whiz at numbers), has tons of great stories (she grew up with a bunch of sisters, so there are some doozies), and we have a similar backgrounds.  We also share a love for Moscato D’Asti, and can talk for hours over drinks (and dessert 😉 ).


She’s a pretty mellow person, and has a very easy going personality.  That’s perfect for me, since I tend to stress about things a lot, and worry about every little detail.


Olivia has also experienced both the highs and lows of my experimental cooking.  The lows include my attempt to bravely step out of my comfort zone by trying a recipe which included oxtail and coconut milk (we try to avoid mentioning that fiasco).

Every time I make her a meal (which is typically weekly), I get her to rank that particular meal based on the other recipes I have made for her.  Some of her favorite/highly ranked meals include the Chicken Pad Thai recipe from Primal Palate, Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes from the Creek Side Cook, roasted vegetables with bacon (one of her favorites), and anything involving fried plantain.

About two weeks ago, I made this recipe for her, not knowing what her opinion was on Shepherd’s Pie.  She took one bite, and said hands down this is the best meal I’ve made for her so far.  Coming from Olivia, who doesn’t eat a Paleo/Primal/Gluten-free diet, I know that means it’s good!


This recipe has some of her favorites, roasted vegetables and bacon, and I’m sure she would have been over the moon if I’d managed to find a way to add fried plantain to the mixture.  Not sure how I’d do it, but if you have any suggestions, please feel free to share!


I hope you like the recipe as much as she does!  Feel free to share your favorite Paleo/Primal/gluten-free/healthy recipes in the comments below.

Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower, Parsnip and Carrot Mash

Servings: approximately 6-8


For the Cauliflower, Parsnip and Carrot Mash:

  • 1 large head cauliflower, chopped into florets (approximately 1-1.5 pounds)
  • 3 large turnips, chopped into 2 inch pieces (approximately 3/4 pounds – 1 pound)
  • 3 large carrots, chopped into 2 inch pieces (approximately 1/2 pound)
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (canned)
  • 1/4 cup cooking fat (i.e., lard, coconut oil, avocado oil)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 head garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Pie Filling:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 cups frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions for the Cauliflower, Parsnip Carrot Mash:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower florets, carrots and parsnip.
  4. Drizzle 1/4 cup of cooking fat onto the vegetables, and toss to coat.
  5. Place the vegetables on the baking sheet in a single layer.
  6. Trim the top off the head of garlic.  Place the garlic on a small piece of aluminum foil.  Pour two teaspoons on top of the garlic.  Wrap the foil around the garlic so that it is completely sealed.
  7. Place the garlic wrapped in foil on a small corner of the baking sheet.
  8. Roast the vegetables and garlic for approximately 1 hour, flipping the vegetables halfway though.  Roast the vegetables until they have softened (you should be able to pierce the roasted vegetables easily with a fork).  Once the vegetables have completed roasted, remove the baking sheet from the oven.
  9. Allow the roasted garlic to cool, and then peel once you are able to handle it.
  10. Pour the roasted vegetables into the bowl of a large food processor.  Add the coconut milk, dried thyme, ghee, roasted garlic, sea salt and ground black pepper.
  11. Puree until smooth, with no visible lumps.


Instructions for the Shepherd’s Pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add chopped bacon to the skillet, and sautee until cooked through.  Place the bacon on plate lined with paper towels.  Reserving 1 tablespoon of bacon grease, remove the excess grease from the skillet.
  4. Place the large skillet back over-medium high heat, and add 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon grease to the skillet.  Once the skillet is hot, add the diced onions and sautee until translucent, approximately 8-10 minutes.
  5. Add ground beef to the skillet and cook through until the meat has browned.
  6. After the meat has browned, stir in the beef broth, bacon, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper and cook on medium heat until the liquid in the skillet is reduced by half.
  7. Remove skillet from heat.
  8. Remove bay leaves from the skillet.  Add frozen peas and carrots to the skillet and mix in with the beef mixture until combined.
  9. Spread the  beef mixture evenly into a 9 x 13 baking pan.
  10. Spread the cauliflower, parsnip and carrot mash evenly on top of the beef mixture.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.

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