Believe it or not, this Shepherd’s Pie recipe started with me wanting to make some fresh pesto! The basil at this Saturday’s market was abundant and cried out to be made into a delicious sauce. I learned from my mom how to honour these fragrant leaves. In our yard, she had a full garden bed devoted to traditional sweet basil, purple basil, and lemon basil. We always had lots of pesto on hand, and basil leaves made their way into other sauces and salads whenever possible. Should you want to make your own, you can find my mom’s recipe here.
So, on to the main event! Now that I was inspired by the basil, what did I want to serve it with? At the moment, I’m looking for low carb options and this keto Shepherd’s Pie turned out to be a great solution. What I like in particular is that you can change it up to suit your tastes and dietary preferences. I chose a ground lamb and beef combo and it would work equally well with ground turkey or chicken. Should you want to make a vegetarian or vegan version, sub in for the meat, the same amount of cooked green, or Puy lentils. (Note: If you do use lentils, this will change the carbohydrate load.) If carrots or celery aren’t your thing, add in other veg such as green beans, courgette, or asparagus. My recipe also includes a dash of Dijon, tomato paste, and stock, to create an indication of a sauce, which adds another layer of flavour to the base.
Having just reviewed the ingredient list and directions for this recipe, it may come across as lengthy. While there is some prep involved, it’s really straightforward and the whole dish will come together in about an hour.
So here you have it: Keto Shepherd’s Pie, and for the sassy pesto – try making your own, or use a dash from a store bought jar you may have in your pantry. Either way, this is a hugely satisfying dish!
Ingredients for Keto Shepherd's Pie
- 1 large head of cauliflower, broken into florets
- 2 Tbsp EVOO (divided)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 large carrots, cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 stalks of celery, sliced into 1cm pieces
- 450 grams (total) lean ground lamb and beef combo, can also use turkey
- 300 grams shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced into 1cm strips
- 12 or so, green beans, sliced into 2cm pieces (optional)
- 1 tsp each, dried oregano, thyme, and basil
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 250ml veg, chicken, or beef stock (can also use plain water)
- 2-3 Tbsp ( 1 small can (70g) of unsweetened tomato paste
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and have ready a ceramic or cast iron baking dish, big enough to hold 6-8 cups of your meat/veg base.
- Use a pot large enough to hold a metal steaming basket, and fit this inside, along with enough water to just touch the base of the steamer. Add the cauliflower florets to the steaming basket, put a lid on the pot, and bring to a boil. Steam the cauliflower for 15-20 minutes, until fork-tender, at which point you will remove the lid and allow the cauliflower to cool down a bit before mashing.
- While the cauliflower is steaming, prep the veg and start to bring the meat to room temperature.
- Begin by adding 1 Tbsp EVOO to a large frying pan, and gently stir fry the onions over medium heat until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and stir this around for another minute.
- When the onions and garlic are fragrant (after 6 mins) tip in the carrots and celery and stir these around for 2-3 minutes until they begin to soften.
- Next, add the meat and break it down with the end of your spatula so it cooks evenly. Stir the whole mixture until the meat is cooked through and just as it begins to brown on the edges, add the mushrooms, and green beans (if using) and stir these around until the mushrooms start to soften which should take 2-3 minutes.
- As the mushrooms are cooking, add the dried herbs, Dijon, stock, and tomato paste. Stir all of this around to incorporate well. At this point, you should be seasoning with salt and pepper to your taste. The saltiness will depend on whether you use homemade stock, a store bought cube, or plain water, so take care with this seasoning.
- When everything has been properly incorporated, turn off the heat and transfer this into the baking dish. Take care… it’s hot!
- Remove the cauliflower and steaming basket and tip out any remaining water from the pot. Return the cauliflower to the pot and mash it to a fine, smooth texture with the other tablespoon of EVOO and a dash of S&P.
- Spread the cauliflower mash over the meat base, smoothing it over with an offset spatula or the back of a large spoon. Go all the way to the edges.
- You are now ready to bake this in the oven, for 20-30 minutes until all is properly heated through.
- When the dish is ready, remove it from the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes before dishing it onto your plates. If you like, place it on a bed of fresh rucola leaves and add a drizzle of fresh pesto for a bit of extra zing!
I hope you love it!