Healthy cottage pie with cauliflower mash

When it comes to comfort food I have a couple of simple go to recipes. Their simplicity comes from a combination of everyday ingredients as well as the preparation being relatively foolproof. This cottage pie is one of them.

Healthy cottage pie with cauliflower mash topping, recipe, low carbI’ve tried a few different cottage pie recipes. What I love about this one is the use of red wine and just a few fresh tomatoes. The result is a rich sauce base with lots of flavour. Added to this the cauliflower mash topping is a low carb substitute for potato mash. It makes for a lighter pie and with a little milk, butter and cheddar cheese added the result tastes just as good.

Healthy cottage pie with cauliflower mash If you’re not convinced then consider that cauliflower is low calorie (25 calories per 100g), high protein (2g per 100g) and has a heap of other benefits like being super high in vitamin C and K. Read more here (‘Top 8 health benefits of cauliflower’).


These ingredients make a pie that serves 2-4 (depending on your portion size and how many sides you make).

The sauce ingredients

  • 400g – 500g grass fed beef mince (ideally organic)
  • 2-3 medium carrots
  • A stick of celery (optional)
  • One brown onion
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • 250ml / 1 cup dry red wine (the better the wine the tastier the pie)
  • 250ml / 1 cup beef stock (home made or the best quality you can afford)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 chopped ripe tomatoes or a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 dry bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp plain flour

The topping ingredients

  • A whole medium cauliflower
  • 50g butter, at room temperature
  • 50ml whole milk
  • 50g-150g grated cheddar (depending on your preferred level of cheesiness)
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

Steps to prepare

  1. Dice the carrots, celery and onion and cook in a pan with a little butter or olive oil over a low heat.
  2. Finely chop the garlic and add it to the pan to cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add the mince to the pan and cook on a higher heat until browned.
  4. Reduce the heat and stir in the tomato paste, then add the thyme and bay leaves.
  5. Add the red wine and simmer for a few minutes to reduce the alcohol, and then add the worcestershire sauce, tomatoes and beef stock.
  6. Bring to a simmer and add the plain flour. Stir to combine and then allow to simmer, stirring regularly, for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce is thick enough for the pie base.
  7. While the sauce is cooking chop the cauliflower and cook it by boiling or ideally steaming until it’s soft enough to blend. At the same time pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  8. Reserve the cooked cauliflower and lightly heat the milk in a pan. Then add the cauliflower to the pan and blend into a mash with a hand blender.
  9. As you blend the mash throw in the butter and cheddar. Then grate in the nutmeg and season well with salt and pepper.
  10. Add the cooked sauce to the base of an ovenproof dish and top with the cauliflower mash. Add to the middle shelf of the oven and cook for 30-35 minutes. Rest for a few minutes before serving.


– Substitute the red wine with beer, ideally pale ale or craft beer (250-300ml).
– Add one small cooked potato to the cauliflower mash – to thicken up the topping.
– Replace the fresh tomatoes with 200ml canned tomatoes.

By Feast Wisely

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