Tonight i’m craving some comfort food and what I really fancy is cottage pie. My version contains lots of hidden vegetables, and is also free from potato and therefore much lighter on starch, helping to keep blood sugar levels settled during the evening. Instead of potato, I absolutely love to use mashed cauliflower. I know cauliflower isn’t a very popular vegetable, but I really encourage you to try this. There’s something about the smooth, creamy cauliflower that works brilliantly with the savoury sauce and it’s a million miles away from over-boiled grey and soggy cauliflower, I promise you.
From a nutritional perspective, cauliflower really is full of goodies. A member of the cruciferous family, it’s often forgotten in favour of it’s green cousin, broccoli. Like broccoli it contains sulforaphane, a sulphur compound that has been found to kill cancer stem cells and slow tumour growth. The sulphur content also supports detoxification. It’s rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, as well as B vitamins, manganese and potassium; and it’s also packed with antioxidants like beta carotene and quercetin. By making this simple switch, you’ll transform a stodgy British favourite into a healthy, warming dinner that you can feel virtuous about.
Cauli Cottage Pie
500g organic beef mince
1 large onion
1 large clove garlic
1 large (or two small) carrots, peeled
1 tbsp coconut oil or butter
Vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried
1 large cauliflower, outer leaves removed
1 tbsp butter, olive oil or coconut oil
Finely chop the onion, garlic, carrot and courgette. I save time by doing this in my Kenwood mini chopper (a Delia favourite apparently), plus it chops the vegetables nice and fine which is useful if you’re trying to hide them from eagle-eyed children. Melt the oil in a large frying or sauce pan, add a pinch of sea salt and simmer the vegetables gently until they are soft. Remove the vegetables from the pan, and the add the beef mince. Cook the mince, breaking it up as you go, until browned. Then return the vegetables to the pan and stir well to combine. Season the mixture with sea salt and black pepper, and add enough stock to loosen the sauce but don’t make it too wet. Add the herbs, stir and leave it to simmer for about half an hour, stirring every now and then.
While the sauce is simmering, pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Cut the cauliflower into florets and steam until tender. Place the steamed florets into a food processor, add the fat and process until smooth. You can also use a masher but it won’t be as smooth.
When the meat sauce is ready, place it into an oven-proof dish and smooth the top, then top with the cauliflower and cook in the oven for about 25 minutes until slightly brown on top and the meat sauce is bubbling. Serve with lots of green vegetables and enjoy!