Weeknight Shepherd’s Pie (Paleo, Whole30)


Casseroles are the comfie blanket of food, but between us friends, the idea of preparing one on a weeknight makes me feel a little overwhelmed: Cook the components, layer them in a dish, bake them in the oven—it seems like so much work! This recipe is an inversion of a casserole. It takes the essential parts of paleo Shepherd’s Pie—creamy mashed cauliflower and lamb seasoned with the herbs of the British Isles—and gets them onto your plate in less than half an hour. No casserole dish or baking required.

Weeknight Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 2–4 | Total time: 25–30 minutes | Whole30 compliant

Cauliflower Mash:
  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 large head cauliflower

  • 2 tablespoons ghee

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1/2 cup water or chicken broth

  • 1 teaspoon coconut aminos or gluten-free Worcestershire sauce

  • garnish: a handful fresh parsley


Start the mash. Place the water in a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil. Break the cauliflower into florets and add them to the pot, cover with a lid, and steam the cauliflower for about 10 minutes or until tender, adding more water if necessary. Remove the pan from heat, cover to keep hot, and set aside.


Cook the meat. Warm the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, 2 minutes. While the oil heats, finely dice the onion. Add the onion and a pinch of salt to the pan and cook until the onion is tender and translucent, 5–7 minutes. While the onion cooks, peel and crush the garlic and combine it with 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme in a small bowl; set aside. Crumble the lamb into the skillet and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until it is just pink, about 3 minutes. Add the spices and stir to combine. Push the meat to the side of the skillet and drop in the tomato paste; fry it about 2 minutes. Add the water and coconut aminos, then stir to combine and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, until the water is mostly gone and the meat is saucy, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile…


Finish the mash. Place about half of the steamed cauliflower into a food processor bowl and purée until smooth. Add the rest of the cauliflower and purée again. With the motor running, add the ghee, salt, and pepper through the feed tube. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Mince the parsley.


To serve, divide cauliflower mash among individual serving bowls, then top with ground meat and sprinkle with parsley.

You Know How You Could Do That?

Replace the ground lamb with ground beef (a.k.a. cottage pie), or try the Chilean version called “pastel de papa” by adding raisins, black olives, and chopped hard-boiled eggs to the ground meat.

Cookup Tips

Make the cauliflower mash and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. When it’s time to eat, reheat the cauli mash in a small saucepan while you cook the lamb.

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  • Kathie Gray says:

    Ah yes, in our house we call this “deconstructed Shepard’s pie”! All the flavour in half the time, what’s not to love! When we first went paleo I made Shepard’s pie every Friday, but now I mostly do this and save the real deal for the occasional big cook up. Your version looks yummy!

  • Annie Harvey says:

    thank you SO So very much for delicious recipes , very much appreciated