Shepherd’s Pie & South Beach

by Mara @ What's For Dinner? on November 30, 2011

in beef, simple recipe, South Beach Diet, vegetables

I can’t be the only one that thinks of the classic Friend’s episode when, thinking she was making a trifle, Rachel inadvertently made a trifle topped with a shepherds pie.

“It’s a trifle. It’s got all of these layers. First there’s a layer of ladyfingers, then a layer of jam, then custard, which I made from scratch, then raspberries, more ladyfingers, then beef sauteed with peas and onions, then a little more custard, and then bananas, and then I just put some whipped cream on top!”




Up until that point, I don’t know that I’d ever had a shepherds pie, let alone made one. My first experience with a shepherd’s pie was early in my weight watchers days, and the recipe made so much that we were eating it for days and days.

While grocery shopping today, we had the idea of making a more South Beach Diet-friendly shepherds pie, using mashed sweet potatoes instead of mashed regular potatoes on top. Something about that sounded odd to me though…and then I remembered an old South Beach stand by: mashed cauliflower.

I’m not going to tell you that mashed cauliflower tastes like mashed potatoes because, honestly, it doesn’t. It tastes like mashed cauliflower. But, with a bit of sour cream, some milk, and a bunch of salt, it makes a delicious substitute that’s more SBD friendly.


South Beach Diet-Friendly Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients (Serves 8)

For the Filling

  • 2 pounds ground beef (or turkey)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups peas
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

For the Topping

  • 2 heads cauliflower
  • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk


  • Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.
  • Heat a large pan with the olive oil.
  • Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots and sautee until the onions are soft.
  • Add the ground beef and brown thoroughly.
  • Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and salt, and cook about 5 minutes.
  • Transfer to a baking dish.
  • Steam the cauliflower until very soft (almost that “I can’t eat this, it’s too mushy) stage.
  • Mash with a potato masher.
  • Stir in the sour cream and milk, then use a stick blender to make a smooth mixture.
  • Stir in the cheese, then spread the cauliflower over the meat mixture.
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until browned, about 25 minutes.
  • Allow to sit 5 minutes before serving.
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I’m pretty proud of my creation. While the flavor was a little bit different than the standard shepherd’s pie, and thankfully different than Rachel’s trifle, Adam and I both agreed that it’s a keeper of a recipe. It was satisfying enough that small helpings did the trick, but when I went back for seconds, I didn’t feel guilty.


Can you believe that tomorrow is December?? Where has the time gone?

Also, since Thanksgiving got in the way, I’m taking entries for BSI Pears for another couple of days. The winner will be announced this Sunday, December 4!



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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Dinner at Christina's November 30, 2011 at 9:38 PM

Mmmm I love Shepard’s Pie! One of my favorite comfort foods. Love the idea of slimming it up with mashed cauliflower!

I just watched that episode of Friends last week! :)
Dinner at Christina’s´s last blog post ..Pineapple Upside Down Cake


Mara @ What's For Dinner? November 30, 2011 at 9:42 PM

I miss you girlie, and so wish i could be at your wedding!!!!


Melissa @TryingtoHeal November 30, 2011 at 9:49 PM

OMG I love shepherd’s pie. I usually use a cauliflower/potato topping to add in the density that the pie usually has, and use a mushroom gravy on the inside…so.freakn.good.
Melissa @TryingtoHeal´s last blog post ..Comment on Simple Things by Courtney @ The Granola Chronicles


Mara @ What's For Dinner? November 30, 2011 at 9:53 PM

I so wish Adam liked mushrooms… because that sounds AMAZING


Erica December 1, 2011 at 4:40 AM

I only had Shepherd pie once, and I loved it.. But I wasn’t able to get the ingredients. Thanks for the recipe here, I could try it out. There are other recipe’s in the net but they seem to be high on calories just looking at the ingredients.
Erica´s last blog post ..My Diet Ideas


Jenn (eating bender) December 1, 2011 at 7:28 AM

I love that Friends episode! Favorite line is from Joey: “I mean, what’s not to like? Custard, good. Jam, good. Meat, good!”

Nope. That trifle is definitely still “ew.” :)

That said, your Shepherd’s Pie looks amazing! Definitely going to have to try that this winter!
Jenn (eating bender)´s last blog post ..The “S” Word(s)


Jodie December 1, 2011 at 10:11 AM

That was one of the best episodes ever! I was having a craving for some shepards pie so I will be trying!

Jodie´s last blog post ..Popeye Says, “Eat Your Spinach!”


Biz December 1, 2011 at 11:33 AM

Wow, what a great idea to use cauliflower! I agree, the people who think mashed cauliflower tastes like mashed potatoes are just nuts with no taste buds.

I’ll update my post about the BSI pears! :D
Biz´s last blog post ..December 1st?


Zesty Cook December 1, 2011 at 2:36 PM

I love that episode of Friends! Also love your healthier twist on this classic dish. Looks great, Mara!
Zesty Cook´s last blog post ..Zesty’s Twelve Posts of Christmas!


Marianne December 3, 2011 at 3:46 PM

Mashed sweet potatoes are actually really good on a Shepard’s Pie. I use the white flesh ones, not orange, so it looks more like the original :) Especially delicious with ground turkey for the filling.
Marianne´s last blog post ..A Tale Of Two Muffins


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