Fork You

Comfort Food: Shepherd’s Pie

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.

Patio season is officially over in Calgary

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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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)

Not that pretty, but tasty!

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


  1. Boil root veggies until tender; coarsely mash (or smash), add white bean sauce and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  3. 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.
  4. Add liquid (broth or wine/beer and scrape any browned bits from bottom of pan. Stir in thyme and Worchestershire.
  5. 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.
  6. Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until bubbling and top is golden brown. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and serve; ketchup optional.

3 thoughts on “Comfort Food: Shepherd’s Pie

  1. YES!!! Is this the same white sauce you used for the chicken broccoli casserole??? so excited! Thanks for posting

    • One and the same! Just finished testing a mac n cheese recipe to post next week, and then chicken-broccoli-rice casserole recipe will the posted the following week.

  2. Pingback: Comfort Food: Baked Mac ‘n’ Cheese | No Baloney

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s