You know the feeling…one day the leaves on the trees are green and the sidewalk is clear, and the next, you’re surrounded by shades of yellows, oranges and reds. It always feels to me like fall comes out of nowhere. Plus this year in particular was strange weather-wise in Toronto, with summer only really ending the third week of October. But now it’s pumpkins and (almost) boots and sweaters, and I’ve even gotten my fireplace going a time or two.
But if I’m being completely honest, historically, I haven’t taken the arrival of fall very well. This is because after fall comes winter and I simply love the heat. I like to be toasty warm and prefer not to wear boots, sweaters, scarves and pants. I know, I know, you’re thinking, ‘but fall fashion is soooo cute’ and the leaves are so beautiful; and I hear you, I do; but I still love summer the mostest.
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that
every season brings with it it’s own unique set of pleasures and fall is no different.
Years ago, I came across the concept in the image below and it changed my perspective on the seasons. Each season has a purpose, a purpose for the trees in their life cycle and a purpose for us as humans, and living beings.
Fall is a time of flux and confusion for many people; and whether we consciously realize it or not, our bodies feel these natural changes. It is not just the arrival of chillier weather than makes us crave hearty, nourishing foods.
Our bodies and minds crave grounding in this time of change;
and so we naturally turn to dense, nutrient-rich, seasonal foods
like pumpkins, sweet potatoes and root vegetables.
It is with this concept in mind that I am sharing one of my favourite recipes with you. I have been making this ‘lighter’ version of shepherd’s pie since last winter and it’s definitely one of our favourites. I have also shared it with many of my clients through the Slim Down Detox Program, and without fail it becomes part of their regular repertoire as well. Starchy white potatoes are substituted with detoxifying cauliflower, plus a touch of creamy sweet potato creates the perfect dish.
And psst…this recipe freezes so well, it’s the perfect batch-cooking and make-ahead meal. I hope you love it as much as we do, be sure to let me know in the comments below if you give it a try!
Cauliflower Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
Makes 8 servings
1 small head of cauliflower, washed and chopped into florets
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
7 tablespoons oil (butter, ghee or coconut oil)
1 large white onion, chopped
2 cups frozen diced mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, peas, etc)
700g ground beef (or substitute with lentils, see below)
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons paprika
Pinch of salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Wash and chop cauliflower into florets. Wash, peel and chop sweet potatoes into pieces. In a large pot, add a steamer and fill with a small amount of water.
- Add the sweet potatoes and cauliflower and steam until fork tender. About 10-15min.
- While the vegetables are steaming, add 3 tablespoons of oil to a large sauté pan on medium heat. Add the chopped onions and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Then add ground beef to the pan. Cook until no pink remains. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, water, and mixed frozen vegetables.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cook with the lid slightly ajar for five minutes more.
- When the potatoes and cauliflower are tender, transfer them to a bowl and add 4 tablespoons of oil. Mash with a fork or potato masher, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large baking dish, approximately 8×13”, or two smaller dishes, layer the meat mixture in the bottom. Using a spoon, spread into an even layer. The add the mashed potatoes and cauliflower on top.
- Spread the mashed vegetables over the ground beef. Using a fork, create peaks on the surface.
- Place in a 400°F oven and bake until browned and bubbling, about 20 minutes. Broil for approximately 5-10min to brown the peaks.
- Allow to cool before freezing the dish whole or divide into servings. To reheat, simply preheat oven to 400°F and bake until hot and bubbling.
NOTE: If substituting ground beef with lentils, use two 14-ounce cans of green lentils and 1 cup of dry red lentils. Cook the red lentils in some stock with the onions (step 5) and then season, as per instructions above. Then strain and rinse the green lentils and simmer continuing from step 6.