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Low-Carb Shepherd's Pie (gluten free, dairy free, potato-free, ACD-friendly, vegan option))

Posted Nov 13 2009 8:09am

I am a huge fan of savory pies.  To me, a pie is like a gift, the crust a wrapper for wonderful secrets underneath.  You never know what delights are hiding under a tender crust or a layer of something potato-like!  Savory pies are so satisfying, so nourishing, so darn delicious; I love them.  I love sweet pies too, but those are a bit more limited to me right now, so I'm channelling all my love to the savory end of things.

My mom made these amazing vegetable pies when I was young, full of root vegetables and peas and onions, and topped with tasty crust.  I made vegetable pies pretty often back when I lived with roommates, using our communal vegetable stash and whipping up delicious spelt crusts mixed with herbs.  But once I started living alone, I kind of stopped making pies, because they seemed like overkill - one big pie lasts a LONG time when you live by yourself.  Recently,  however, I've gotten back on the pie kick, especially Shepherd's Pie.  I never made Shepherd's Pie all that often back in my pie-making days of old, I made crusted pies more often, because to be honest, I'm not all that crazy for potatoes and I really really really like crust.  Now that I no longer do the gluten, making a crust is a little more challenging.  NOw, don't get me wrong, I make some killer pastry crusts - I just recently made a savory squash and broccoli pesto galette with a buckwheat olive oil crust, and it was a wild success.  But generally, crusts become just a little more challenging.  Additionally,  I'm trying (desperately) to limit my carb intake, so coming up with a crustless, lower carb solution for my pie seems like a good idea.


Enter the potato-free Shepherd's Pie, using a mixture of steamed and pureed cauliflower and parsnips in place of the potato.  Using cauliflower isn't a new idea - there are tons of recipes out there for cauliflower Shepherd's Pie - but I like adding a couple parsnips to the mix.  Parsnips add just a hint of sweet starchiness, without being too carby, resulting in a rich, velvety, creamy texture.  This cloud of heavenly white fluff sits atop an herby mixture of ground turkey, onions, celery, peas, and Brussels sprouts.  If you don't like/have some of those vegetables, substitute some other vegetable - anything will work!  Savory pies are an amazing way to use up all those vegetables lying around in your crisper drawer; even the wiltiest and wobbliest vegetables are imbued with new life once mixed with meat, herbs and spices.  Vegetarian or vegan?  Substitute cooked lentils or beans for the ground turkey!

The best part is that it is quick to prepare.  From start to finish, it takes just over 30 minutes.  Not bad, huh?  Serve with a large greens salad and some lacto-fermented vegetables, and you've got a wonderfully nourishing, healthy meal in no time.  Leftovers keep really well in the fridge for a few days, so make a batch and save for lunches later in the week.

LOW-CARB, POTATO-FREE, DAIRY-FREE TURKEY SHEPHERD'S PIE (gluten free, ACD-friendly, dairy free, vegan option)

serves 4 hungry people or 6 kind of hungry people

1 head cauliflower
2 parsnips
1 pound ground turkey/other ground meat (VEGAN OPTION substitute 2-3 cups cooked white beans, lima beans, chickpeas, or lentils)
2 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (or substitute equal amount other vegetable)
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup fresh parsley,  minced
2 tsp dry tarragon
2 tsp dry thyme
1 tsp Herbamare or sea salt
1-4 T olive oil
1 1/4 c broth/stock, divided
  1. Wash and peel parsnips, and wash and chop cauliflower.  Steam until tender, and place in blender/food processor with 1/2 c broth, 1/2 tsp salt, and, if desired, 1-2 T olive oil (the olive oil adds a bit of richness and body and wonderful flavor).  Blend until totally smooth and creamy, and set aside.
  2. While vegetables steam, heat 1-2 T olive oil in a large saute pan.  Add the ground turkey and brown over medium heat for 4-5 minutes.  Add onion, celery, Brussels sprouts, herbs, and 1/2 c broth, and stir to mix.  Cover pan with cover or foil tent and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding peas when vegetables are nearly done. If mixture gets dry, add additional 1/4 c broth.  Add 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste, and remove from heat. [time saving hint: while vegetables/meat cook, puree steamed cauliflower/parsnips!]
  3. Transfer meat mixture into a high-sided casserole dish.  Spread cauliflower-parsnip puree evenly over the top.
  4. Broil until top is golden brown and mixture is heated through.  Serve immediately!


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