Now that I’m retired, autumn has a different energy. It used to be a time to get ready for NHL training camps, watch rosters and book flights. I’m a sports fan, and the fall is a great time of year for sports, so I’m still very interested in watching. The difference is, now I’m not going to work. 

Many years of life on the road meant a lot of restaurant food, room service and late-night meals after games. So, when I left sports broadcasting, I retired to the kitchen. I’d rather cook and eat at home, where I can spend many hours cooking dinners while listening to sports talk radio or watching baseball, football and hockey. Dinner at home has always been a culmination of the day, an opportunity to catch up, converse, relax…and catch the half-time show! 

Healthy eating is good for the soul

When I was working and away from home, it was easy to break every rule in the healthy eating book. But now I try to make tasty and nutritious meals at home. Although, it’s admittedly hard to resist the odd French fry. 

I live on the west coast of Canada, so I have the luxury of an abundance of fresh local ingredients to cook with. We also have a garden, and cooking with things I’ve grown feels good and soulful. There’s that, and the games start at 4 o’clock. Face-off and dinner prep are right in my wheelhouse. 

About this recipe

This meal is a fall and winter favourite comfort food adapted from my childhood and one my mom could put together in her sleep. In northern BC, where I grew up, we stretched every meal. Fresh vegetables from our garden were only around for a few weeks, and produce at local grocery stores was limited. We were a meat and potatoes family. 

We had roast beef every Sunday, and there was never a lack of potatoes, meaning Monday and Tuesday were leftover days. Often, that meant shepherd’s pie. My mother would hand grind the leftover beef and add pretty much any leftover or canned vegetable that survived Sunday dinner. 

For this version of shepherd’s pie, I use ground turkey instead of beef and mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes. I still improvise with different vegetables in the filling and find the meal as warm and comforting as the recipe I grew up on. 

It’s quick and easy to put together on a busy night. It also allows creativity, depending on what you’ve got in the fridge. Enjoy.

Turkey Shepherd’s Pie with Mashed Cauliflower

Ingredients

Topping:

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets 
  • Paprika to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: cream cheese, minced garlic, parmesan cheese

Filling:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil 
  • 1 medium sweet or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • Optional: chopped fall or in-season vegetables (mushrooms, sweet potatoes, butternut squash) 
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste 
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • Optional: 1 cup of frozen corn 
  • 2 tbsp. flour 
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Cooking instructions

Prepare mashed cauliflower topping:

  • Separate cauliflower head into florets. Steam in a pot of water until tender. (Approximately 30 minutes.)
  • Place cooked cauliflower into a blender or a food processor. (Optional: add cream cheese, minced garlic and parmesan cheese.)
  • Blend cooked cauliflower until it reaches a mashed consistency.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

 Prepare filling:

  • In a saucepan, add olive oil.
  • Turn stovetop to medium heat.
  • Add onions, garlic, and carrots. Saute for 2 minutes.
  • Add ground turkey.
  • Sprinkle flour and add salt and pepper to the saucepan to taste.
  • Add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and chicken broth.
  • Simmer filling until ingredients appear cooked and the broth has evaporated. 
  • Optional: Mix in any other vegetables you’d like to add. Cut into small pieces and only add a small amount.
  • When it’s close to being ready, you can also add frozen peas or corn.
  • Add remaining filling ingredients. 

Put it together and bake:

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Add cooked filling to a baking or casserole dish. Leave 1 inch on top to add mashed cauliflower.
  • Place mashed cauliflower on top of filling. 
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until filling starts to bubble through or when the mashed cauliflower browns.
  • Remove from oven and let cool before serving. Optional: Sprinkle paprika for taste.

Do you enjoy cooking? What is your go-to comfort food? Share in the comments below.

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