cauliflower cottage pie

June 12, 2020
Family Verdict:


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g minced beef
  • 1 large carrot coarsely grated
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 200g red lentil
  • 600ml beef stock
  • 140g frozen pea
  • 1 kg potato, cubed
  • 1 medium cauliflower (about 400g), cut into florets
  • 150ml milk
  • 50g butter
  • 100g mature cheddar, grated

  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 4. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the minced beef. Cook for 5 mins until browned all over, then add the carrot and cook for 2 mins more.
  2. Stir in the tomato purée and add seasoning. Cook for a few mins, then add the lentils and stock. Simmer for 20 mins, then stir in the peas.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil and add the potatoes. Simmer for 15 mins, then add the cauliflower and simmer for a further 10 mins until the veg is tender.
  4. Drain, then return the veg to the pan for a few mins to dry out. add the milk, butter and seasoning, and mash together. Finally, add the cheese, reserving a handful, and mix well.
  5. Spoon the mince into a large roasting dish, about 30 x 20cm, and spoon the mash over the top. Sprinkle with cheese and bake until golden, about 30 mins.


Now here is something for the hair shirted amongst us. The genesis of this meal is (1) I had some mince, but at the Boy is home, probably not enough (2) I had a couple of cauliflowers and I wanted to get one used up; and (3) I had some left over mashed potato in the fridge. Now I accept that this is a fairly specific set of circumstances, but bear with me.

Step forward Mr Google. After looking around I happened across a recipe for "beef and lentil cottage pie with cauliflower and potato topping". Bingo - I had all the ingredients. Put aside the fact that this sounded like a retro Delia Smith tribute recipe from the 1980's, suspend disbelief and have a go. And lets remember that it is week 12 of lockdown, our repertoire is on repeat and so we must remain adventurous! I dread the question "what's for supper" in the current circumstance, so quite often resort to the answer "something you won't like". This time I thought, I might really be on the money.

Anyway I gave it a go. It is recognisably a cottage pie. I find the addition of the lentils less intrusive then that of the cauliflower. Although I put it through my ricer, it still made grainy mash and there is always water in it too which thins it down undesirably. However, the dish has many of your 5 a dy in it. I had no frozen peas, so substituted spinach. The result was worthy, not unpleasant but not the comforting dish which a classic cottage pie is. Give it a go, if nothing lse it is a good way of (partially) hiding vegetables.

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