April 25, 2021

Recipe: Spicy Lamb and Veggie Shepherd’s Pie

Ready in just 45 minutes!

A plate of shepherd's pie with mashed potatoes, lamb and vegetables

This easy casserole features spiced ground lamb, but it works with beef and bison as well. And while the top might look like traditional high-carb mashed potatoes, we used pureed cauliflower instead. You will love the switch!


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2 heads cauliflower (or 2 pounds bagged florets)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground lamb
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of cayenne pepper
Optional: ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
½ teaspoon plus a pinch of sea salt
¼ teaspoon plus a pinch of ground black pepper
Pinch of granulated garlic
2 small zucchini (3/4 pound), ends trimmed, quartered
and diced
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes (do not drain)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the core from the cauliflower and break the heads into small florets. Fill a large pot (6 quarts) with a few inches of water and place a steamer basket inside. Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil. When steam is coming out of the lid, add the cauliflower florets, replace the lid, turn the heat down to medium, and steam until very tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 12 to 14 minutes.
  2. While the cauliflower is steaming, start cooking the lamb and vegetables. In another heavy pot (5 to 6 quarts), heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and pepper and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
    Stir occasionally. Add the chopped garlic and cook 1 minute longer, stirring. Turn the heat down if the garlic starts to brown. Add the lamb to the pot and break it up with a wooden spatula or spoon. Brown the lamb until it is no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add the paprika, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne and saffron (if using), crushing the saffron threads between your fingers. Stir the lamb and the spices together and cook another 2 to 3 minutes to allow the spices to bloom.
  3. When the cauliflower is tender, drain and move it to the bowl of a food processor with the steel blade. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1⁄2 teaspoon of the salt, 1⁄4 teaspoon of the pepper and the granulated garlic and puree until smooth.
  4. Add the zucchini to the pot with the lamb, and then add the tomatoes, juice and all. Stir in the cilantro and season with the remaining pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Spoon the lamb and vegetable mixture into a 2-quart baking dish. Smooth to an even layer, then add 3 cups of the cauliflower puree and smooth over the top.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes uncovered. The internal temperature should reach 165°F when measured with a digital thermometer. The edges will be lightly browned. Divide the casserole into four portions (shallow bowls work well) and serve hot.
  6. Refrigerate any leftovers, covered, for up to 3 days. This casserole can be made a day or two prior to baking. Cover and store unbaked casserole in the refrigerator and when ready, bring to room temperature, then bake as instructed.

Nutritional information (per serving)

Makes 4 servings.

Calories 550
Fat 39 g
Saturated Fat 14 g
Cholesterol 85 mg
Fiber 9 g
Protein 26 g
Carbohydrate 29 g
Sodium 430 mg


— Recipe courtesy of Mark Hyman, MD

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