Low-Carb Cottage Pie

I love a good, stodgy cottage pie. Stewed meat and veg capped with a creamy mashed potatoes. A velvety mush so comforting that one can just about dispense with chewing. I’ve already written about a cottage pie once before, a double-potato version just perfect for indulgent, merry December.


But this is January, when new diet resolutions are in full force. This cottage pie is a low-carb version perfect for guilt-free noshing, but it’s still lovely, warming and rich.

The big compromise (and there always is one in low-anything dishes) is mashed cauliflower in place of potato. I’m not going to make any big promises — you’ll definitely know it’s not potato. Cauliflower is far less starchy and so produces a mash that is a lot looser.

But frankly, when mashed cauliflower is piping hot, you really won’t miss the potato in the slightest. Best of all, you can have seconds and still feel like you’re on track for the new year.

Low-Carb Cottage Pie (4)

You could make the mashed cauliflower topping completely smooth, but I like having some swirls on it so that the topmost bits catch slightly in the oven and go brown. I suppose you could pipe the mash to make the pie look fancier, but I don’t think it’s worth the trouble.

Low-Carb Cottage Pie (3)

Low-Carb Cottage Pie (2)

Recipe for Low-Carb Cottage Pie

Serves 6 to 8 generously.


For the mash:

750g cauliflower florets
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp chives, chopped
1 tbsp thyme leaves
1 clove garlic, minced fine or crushed (opt.)

For the filling:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp thyme leaves
500g minced chicken
2 heaped tbsp flour
2 cups chicken broth (or 1 chicken stock cube dissolved in 500 ml hot water)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (14 oz) can chickpeas (opt.)

Fresh thyme leaves to garnish


Step 1: To make the mash, steam the cauliflower florets for 30 minutes. Use a food processor, hand blender, or simply just a fork, and mash the cauliflower while it’s still warm. Add the rest of the mash ingredients and stir in. Taste and adjust for seasoning.

Step 2: Heat the oil in a large pan. Saute the diced onion, carrots and celery with a pinch of salt over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and thyme and saute for a further 5 minutes. Remove the vegetables to a plate, increase the heat to high and stir-fry the minced chicken until all of it is no longer pink and some parts are golden brown.

Step 3: Return the vegetables to the pan and stir in the flour. Add in the chicken broth, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas, if using, and cook for another couple minutes. Taste and season accordingly.

Step 4: Pour the filling into an oven proof dish, then spoon and spread the mashed cauliflower over top. You can stop at this stage, cover the pie in clingfilm and store in the fridge to be used in the next couple of days, or even frozen and used within a week or so.

Step 5: When ready to eat, preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F). To help the top to brown, sprinkle on some Worcestershire sauce. Also sprinkle some oil if you’re not averse to adding more fat. I sprayed the top with a canola oil spray to keep the fat content down, or you could just forget about it entirely. Bake the pie for 20 to 30 minutes or until the top has browned nicely and the entire pie is heated through. Garnish with fresh thyme leaves and serve warm.

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