The Best Mashed Potato Swap For A More Nutritious Beef Cottage Pie

British cuisine has given the world two creamy, meaty pies that fall squarely into the comfort food category. Depending on the type of meat at its base, either ground beef or lamb, they're known as either cottage pie or shepherd's pie, respectively. Both typically come topped with thick, fluffy mashed potatoes and cooked in a baking pan or cast-iron skillet. Tradition aside –– apologies to the Brits –– there's a new savory pie approach that you'll want to try, and it's made without those luscious, buttery potatoes. 

Chances are you'll make this switch, at least on occasion, because the new smoothly spread topping has a very similar consistency to mashed potatoes, with an intriguing flavor swap. What you'll be using instead is mashed cauliflower. This is for those in your life, potentially including yourself, who desire a non-starchy alternative without giving up the warm, stick-to-your-ribs comfort of a homemade savory pie. In this case, it's a beef cottage pie, but the same concept works for its counterpart, the lamb shepherd's pie. 

In a cauliflower cottage pie recipe, cauliflower is a simple, easy, mashed potato swap that's light and airy without compromising the creaminess you love in the potato version. It happens to be nutritious as well. Healthline explains that the cruciferous vegetable helps reduce risks for heart disease and cancer while also providing a wealth of vitamins and minerals, including folate and vitamins K and C. It's cholesterol-free and a valuable source of fiber, antioxidants, choline for brain health, and more.

Making the cauliflower swap in a beef cottage pie

In addition to having a similar ivory or alabaster color to mashed potatoes, cauliflower is a good textural match, with the ability to keep its form atop a beef cottage pie. Appearance matters when replacing ingredients in well-loved comfort foods, making cauliflower a valuable way of adding more vegetables to a meal. It also tends to be lighter, fluffier, and easier to spread across the pie than stodgier mashed potatoes.

Then there's the taste factor. If concerned about the relatively strong flavor of cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, you can enrich and temper the flavor with butter, cheese, garlic, cream, coconut milk, or even lemon juice. This also adds to the creamy spreadability, especially when using a handheld blender or a food processor for the smoothest consistency. For a thicker or chunkier topping, a hand masher or fork works perfectly well with cauliflower. Be aware that cooked cauliflower florets are more tender than potatoes and will break down more quickly. It helps to start with firmer cooked cauliflower, which is generally achieved when steaming rather than boiling. You don't want any added water making the cauliflower too runny. 

When learning this new technique for a less-starchy, keto-friendly meal, just experiment until finding the perfect combination of ingredients and techniques for your tastebuds and lifestyle. In the end, it's all about making your own version of cauliflower and beef cottage pie both comforting and nutritious.