Not your Irish grandmother’s shepherd’s pie

This St. Patrick’s Day, consider passing on high-sodium corned beef and cabbage and try a lighter version of an Irish favorite. Shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with lamb and topped with mashed potatoes. By replacing lamb with ground turkey and swapping out most of the potatoes with cauliflower, you can keep the traditional flavors while significantly cutting the saturated fat and carbohydrates. This shepherd’s pie is comfort food at its best: warm, filling, delicious — and healthy!

Mashed topping

Ingredients for the mashed topping: cauliflower, potatoes, buttermilk, Parmesan cheese and butter.
Ingredients for the mashed topping: cauliflower, potatoes, buttermilk and Parmesan cheese.

Cauliflower is low on the glycemic index and full of vitamins and nutrients, making it an excellent replacement for potatoes.


1 large cauliflower
½ lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
¼ cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon margarine, olive oil or canola oil
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons reserved for sprinkling on top
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Remove leaves and core of cauliflower, and break into small florets.
  2. Steam cauliflower florets until fork-tender but not mushy.
  3. Drain thoroughly, pat dry and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Purée cauliflower in a food processor until completely smooth.
  5. Place potato cubes into a pot. Fill pot with enough cold water to just cover the potatoes. Bring water to a boil and then simmer potatoes until fork-tender.
  6. Drain potatoes thoroughly and return pot to the stovetop. Stir potatoes until all residual water is gone and remove from heat.
  7. Add buttermilk, margarine (or oil) and Parmesan cheese to the potatoes, and mash thoroughly.
  8. Stir cauliflower purée into mashed potatoes and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Turkey filling

Ingredients for the filling: ground turkey, onion, peas and carrots, flour, chicken broth and tomato paste.
Ingredients for the filling: ground turkey, onion, peas and carrots, flour, chicken broth and tomato paste.


1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 lbs lean ground turkey
1 ½ cups frozen peas and carrots mix, defrosted
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour (whole wheat is preferred; all purpose will also work)
1 cup low sodium chicken broth


  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray or oil.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, and cook diced onion and raw turkey until turkey is cooked through and the onion has softened. This can be done in two batches if you do not have a pan large enough to accommodate all the ingredients at once.
  4. Drain all fat and return to the stovetop.
  5. Add tomato paste, rosemary and thyme to turkey, mixing well.
  6. Add flour, stirring to coat the ingredients.
  7. Add chicken broth. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer briefly, stirring frequently until liquid reduces and thickens into a light gravy consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Evenly spread turkey mixture over the bottom of your prepared baking dish. Top with the potato and cauliflower mixture, spreading to cover from edge to edge.
  9. Sprinkle two tablespoons of Parmesan cheese over the top of the pie.
  10. Bake at 400° until bubbly and the top is lightly browned, 25-35 minutes. If you prefer a browner top, briefly broil.
  11. Serve with a side salad.
Shepherd's Pie
Shepherd’s Pie.
Shepherd's Pie, an Irish favorite.
Shepherd’s Pie, an Irish favorite.

Nutritional information

Total recipe serves 8. Nutritional information below for 1 serving.

Calories 270
Total Fat 11g
Saturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 88mg
Sodium 273mg
Potassium 532mg
Total Carbohydrate 18g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 5g
Protein 27g

Not your Irish grandmother’s shepherd’s pie