Vegetarian Cottage Pie With Cauliflower Mash


If you don't eat meat or want a low carb diet, you really don't have to deprive yourself of traditional home comforts. There is always a substitute that you can make. When I first cut down on carbs and meat, there were so many dishes that I couldn't stop thinking about that I was missing and cottage pie was one of them. It's such a comforting autumn/winter meal. So I did a bit of research and trial and error recipes until I came across this one. The original recipe is from Hemsley and Hemsley and I loved the fact that they used cauliflower mash instead of potatoes, but it is not a vegetarian option as it has meat in it. So I substituted the meat for red lentils and it worked perfectly. The recipe is basically the same otherwise.


Serves 4

For the Cottage Pie Filling

380g of red lentils
1 tbsp of ghee or butter
1 large onion/leek finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely diced
1 stick of celery, finely diced
1 medium courgette, finely diced
1 tsp of dried or 1½ teaspoons of fresh thyme (save some to garnish)
1 tsp of dried or 1½ teaspoons of fresh, roughly chopped rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp of tomato puree
250ml red wine
A small handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
350-400ml of hot vegetable stock
1 large pinch sea salt
1 large pinch black pepper

For the Cauliflower Mash

2 small garlic cloves, peeled
2 large cauliflowers, remove outer green leaves
1 tsp of English mustard (for GAPS use mustard powder)
1 tbsp of butter to blend and 2 teaspoons of chopped up butter to top the mash
1 large pinch sea salt
1 large pinch black pepper
Optional 2 tsp of chopped chives or 1 finely sliced spring onion
Optional 60g of mature cheddar cheese, grated


1. Melt the ghee in a pan and saute the onions, celery, courgette, carrots, bay leaves, rosemary and thyme for 5 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and gently fry for a further minute.

3. Add the lentils to the pan and stir in the tomato puree and red wine. Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes until the liquid has reduced.

4. Add the stock and simmer with the lid on for at least 30 minutes – or slow cook for up to an hour adding more stock or water if it’s starts to get dry.

5. Stir through the fresh parsley and taste for seasoning.

6. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200°C and roughly chop the cauliflower into equal sized pieces.

7. In a saucepan steam the cauliflower and whole garlic cloves with just a few tablespoons of water, lid on, for 5 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Use a knife to check.

8. Remove the pan from the heat, drain any excess liquid and add the butter, grated cheese and mustard. Blend or mash until creamy and smooth. If it’s too sloppy or wet allow the mash to evaporate on a low heat.

9. Season to taste and add the spring onions or chives.

10. Take a large oven dish or individual dishes and fill to two thirds of the mixture, then top with the cauliflower mash. Use a fork to criss cross over the top and dot with bits of butter. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until golden. Finish with a sprinkle of chives or some some fresh thyme leaves.


The first time I made this, I didn't use the 'optional' cheese. However the first time I added the cheese, it made such a difference, for a little amount of cheese. It was subtle, but that hint of cheese in the cauliflower mash was deliciously and now I never make it without it.

lifestyle, foodBy Regina Turk