Get that oven ready! While your ground may not be covered in snow like it is here in Calgary, temperatures are rapidly dropping everywhere… which means cravings for creamy, carb-loaded comfort food! Sure, you can make cream sauce with skim milk and whole wheat flour, but there must be another (more tasty and healthy) way.
If you have been cursed with a love of all comfort foods involving cream or white sauce bases like I have – from chicken pot pie to mac ‘n’ cheese – total avoidance for the long winter is not an option. Here’s a great white sauce-alternative that can easily be adapted to all types of winter weather foods, like casseroles and soups. It is flour- and dairy-less but contains cauliflower and beans… we promise, it tastes delicious!
This week we’re using the white bean sauce for a spin on classic Shepherd’s pie.
White Bean Sauce (makes ~ 4 cups)
- 1 tbsp butter or canola oil
- 3 cups chopped cauliflower (about ½ medium head)
- 398 ml (14 oz) can of BPA-free white/navy beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- salt and pepper to taste
Optional additions – grated cheddar cheese, chopped parsley, nutmeg, roasted garlic, pureed broccoli, sautéed mushrooms.
- Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed large pot over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower and cook until soft and starting to nicely brown, about 5 – 7 minutes.
- Remove pot from heat. Add beans and chicken broth, and puree until smooth using a hand-blender (or transfer ingredients to a heat-proof blender). Be careful!
- Return pot to medium-low heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as any desired optional additions. Voila!
Nutrition information – with 60% less calories and 10-times the fibre compared with standard white sauce, our white bean alternative is not looking too shabby!
|per 1/2 cup||White Bean Sauce||Standard White Sauce*|
|Calories||72 kcal||187 kcal|
|Fat||1.8 g||13.1 g|
|Protein||4.8 g||4.9 g|
|Carbohydrates||9.1 g||11.6 g|
|Fibre||2.6 g||0.25 g|
*based on “sauce, white, medium, 2% milk, homemade” from Canadian Nutrient File (2010).
Turkey Shepherd’s Pie (makes 6 hearty portions)
Shepherd’s pie with the flavours of chicken pot pie, this recipe uses lean ground turkey and a mixed root veggie topping, because you can do better than plain mashed potatoes. For this recipe, chopped parsley and nutmeg were added to the sauce.
- 1 tbsp canola oil or butter
- ~ 1.5 lbs (3/4 kg) lean ground turkey
- ½ cup chopped white onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups diced mushrooms
- ¼ cup chicken broth, white wine or dark ale
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 4 cups frozen mixed veggies (like classic carrots and peas)
- 2.5 cups white bean sauce
roasted veggie topping
- 1 rutabaga, peeled and cubed
- 2 – 3 red potatoes, washed and unpeeled, cubed
- 2 – 3 parsnips, peeled and diced (woody core removed if needed)
- 1 cup white bean sauce
- Boil root veggies until tender; coarsely mash (or smash), add white bean sauce and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add turkey and brown meat, then add onion, garlic and mushrooms and reduce heat to medium. Cook turkey-veggie mixture until onions become translucent and mushrooms soften.
- Add liquid (broth or wine/beer and scrape any browned bits from bottom of pan. Stir in thyme and Worchestershire.
- Remove pan from heat and mix in frozen veggies and white bean sauce. Pour turkey mixture into a casserole dish and topped with root veggies.
- Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until bubbling and top is golden brown. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and serve; ketchup optional.