Low Carb Shepherdless Pie

Serves: ~6
Cost: ~€3.60
Preparation and cooking time: ~40 minutes
Calories: ~220 per serving

Hi again everyone. I’ll be continuing on in a similar theme from my last post with another frugal meal and this one has the added benefits of being absolutely stacked with veg and other delicious, filling, healthy things like lentils. The dish is, as you can tell by the title, a shepherdless, or meat-free, pie. It’s completely vegetarian, and even suitable for vegans if you omit the butter and milk from the mash. What’s more, the carbohydrate content of the pie has been slashed because we’re not using the traditional potato as a topping. No sir, we’re piling on a great mound of cauliflower mash which is about a billion times healthier than the spud equivalent (well, maybe not a billion, but it’s low carb and low calorie)!

The “meat” of the pie is a generous dose of lentils and one of my current favourite ingredients – cabbage! I find this much maligned vegetable absolutely delicious. Shredded cabbage fried up with some minced beef, topped with a bit of spicy ketchup… I know, I know… it sounds like student food, and it’s hardly a gourmet creation but damn if it isn’t satisfying, delicious comfort food!

I find that cauliflower, lentils and cabbage just as they are run a risk of being a bit bland so I wanted to spice them up a bit. I opted for my usual beloved go-to spice – cumin – with some cayenne pepper, but many combinations of herbs or spices would work as well. Given that it’s Autumn I guess you could even throw in some pumpkin or squash – I’ll pass on that though. I’ve never been the biggest fan personally, even though the rest of the world seems to go nuts for it around this time of year!

Shepherdless Pie

It suddenly hit me recently as well that in a very short period of time FiveEuroFood.com is going to be two years old! I’m not quite sure what to do to celebrate so I thought I’d hand it over to you. I’m going to cook something up, but you get to decide the ingredients! I’d love it if you sent in some ideas for five ingredients in the box below. I will pick an entry at random and think up a dish and cook it all up, on video to boot, and post it all on my 2 year “blogiversary”. I might need to employ my wife as “camera man woman”, but more people in my little kitchen can only mean more fun, right? I’ll even name the dish after the winner! Please submit your five ingredient ideas in the submission form below (in the collapsible box) and let the fun commence!

[learn_more caption=”Submit your ideas here!” state=”open”]

This is now finished – thanks for your submission!

Have a great day everyone – enjoy the rest of the post, I’m looking forward to seeing what ideas you come up with for me to go out and buy. See you back in a few days!

Shepherdless Pie

[learn_more caption=”Video Recipe” state=”open”]


Shepherdless Pie ingredients

  • ~500g prepared (cooked) Lentils
  • ~400g tinned Tomatoes
  • ~1/4 of a head of White Cabbage
  • ~2 Onions
  • 3 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 head of Cauliflower
  • 25g Butter (optional)
  • 100ml Milk (optional)
  • 2tsps Cumin
  • 1tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

You’ll also need

  • A Mandoline
  • An Immersion Blender


  1. Start off by cutting away any stalk and leaves from the cauliflower. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and break the cauliflower apart into large florets. Place the florets into the boiling water, cover and cook until you can slide a fork easily through the florets – this will usually take about 10 minutes.
    Chopping the cauliflower
  2. Take your quarter head of cabbage and shred it using a mandoline. Peel and finely slice the onion and garlic, and then heat the olive oil in another large pan. Add in the onion and garlic and fry lightly for a couple of minutes before adding in the shredded cabbage, cumin, and cayenne pepper and continuing to fry, stirring well, for another 5 minutes.
    Shredding the cabbage
  3. Add in the lentils and tinned tomatoes. Rinse out the tin with a bit of fresh water and add this in to the pan as well. Mix well and bring the water and tomatoes to a simmer. Stir the pot regularly and leave it simmering away, uncovered, until the water has evaporated a little and the mixture has thickened up.
    Cooking up the lentils and cabbage
  4. Transfer the contents of the pot into a large oven-safe dish and smooth out to form a layer. Drain the cauliflower and then add in the milk and butter and using an immersion blender, purée the cauliflower to something resembling mashed potato. If you find the “mash” very watery then you may want to heat the pan on the stove, stirring well to evaporate some of the water. Season the mash with salt and pepper to taste and then transfer into the oven-safe dish, on top of the cabbage and lentils. Smooth out to form an even layer.
    Layering on the cauliflower mash
  5. Place the dish into the oven on the grill or broiler setting and cook until the the topping is golden brown.
    Shepherdless Pie, ready from the grill
  6. Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Enjoy!
    Shepherdless Pie

    Shepherdless Pie


  1. says

    Charles, this shepherd’s pie looks fabulous and so tempting I want to take the whole dish for myself! Actually at first I thought you have substituted potatoes with lentils and wanted to say it’s maybe slow carb, but not low carb (did you know that lentils have more carbs than potatoes in 100g?), but cauliflower is certainly an amazing and perfect substitution. I must test it one day because I love cauliflower as much as potatoes, and since it’s so healthier… The funny thing is that I have just prepared something with cabbage too. (Do you remember the Korean squid stir-fried with carrots and cabbage I posted some time ago? I have it at least twice or three times a month and sometimes twice a week even… As you say cabbage can be very surprising).
    Congratulations for the two years of blogging! Times goes by so quickly!
    The ingredients play is an excellent idea. I will be coming back to fill the form because I have to think carefully…
    PS What a pleasure to know that I’m not the only one in the world who can live without pumpkins 😉

    • says

      Hi Sissi, I just checked potatoes and lentils – would you believe, the carbohydrate content is identical… 20g per 100g, though of course I’m sure it depends on the types of lentils used, so it’s perfectly possible they can have more carbs, but since they’re a complex carbohydrate, compared to potatoes, which are simple, they’re much more suitable for a low-carb diet, and definitely tasty!

      I remember well the squid dish you posted – it looked so good, I can completely understand why it’s a regular thing in your home! I think cabbage is really misunderstood. Sure, on its own just “boiled” or something it can be so boring and bad, but stir-fried, or raw in a salad with the right seasoning, it’s crispy, and crunchy and delicious!

      Looking forward to seeing which ingredients you recommend… I have a feeling you might suggest chicken, since I never use it, haha, but we’ll see! 😀

      • says

        Charles, sometimes I think that internet is really dangerous: from my source it was 56g in potatoes and 60g lentils… A small difference between the two, but how can two sources cite 20 or 60 g??? It’s like calories. Some products have 200% differences, can you believe? Anyway, I know lentils are healthier of course!
        Haha! Don’t worry, I will not put chicken there. I have a question though: are the 5 ingredients obligatory? Can I put 3 for example? (If not, no problem, I will think of 5!).
        By the way, I have just had squid for lunch: I work at home today, otherwise I think there are maybe two restaurants which serve decent squid in my city… but always deep-fried alas; I will post the today’s vegetable and squid combination I had for the first time and loved!. Do you know what I loved in Japan? (Or maybe you know it from your trip). They serve squid tentacles in many places and these are my favourite parts (they are tender). Why don’t they sell them here separately??? (I even sometimes see frozen whole squid without tentacles. They are simply thrown away like some second category meat.)

        • says

          Hi Sissi – you can put chicken of course if you want, and 3 ingredients I guess would be fine… I would say 3-5 is perfect… fewer than 3 might be difficult, and not so fun but from 3 upwards it’s no worries :)

          That’s really crazy, how the values can be so different – which is your source? I find WolframAlpha really good… very accurate and great for useful and useless information (like you can find really crazy data from there like the average air speed of certain birds and so forth).

          I never saw the squid tentacles before… I didn’t really go shopping much in Japan for food as we ate out a lot and shopping was always a painful experience – I couldn’t find a single ATM where I could take money out (even though Visa say on their website that it’s possible in certain locations) and every single time I wanted to use my credit card they had to call for authorisation. Even just paying for dinner in a restaurant, I had to endure a 15 minute call afterwards to a call center in England where they would ask me a load of security questions! I wonder if it’s easier these days?

        • says

          Hi Guys, forget a general search on the internet. You can find the USDA National Nutrient Database here: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ – it is widely viewed as one of the most accepted/accurate databases in the nutrition world. You will find everything you’re looking for – and far more – there :)- (click on “start your search here”) to begin the fun ;-).

        • says

          Ah nice, thanks Kelly, double-like because I was worried everything would be measured in cups there, but apparently not so! I’m guessing WolframAlpha might be pulling their data from this site. Many of the food preparation methods listed are identical “Lentils, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt” for example, and the values are the same!

      • says

        Kelly and Eva, thank you so much for the links and advice.
        Charles, I have at least three ingredients (or maybe 5) but I just wanted to make sure :-)
        I don’t remember the website… I have just googled carbs in lentils and then checked on the same website for potatoes (maybe I have mixed up cups or portion size vs. 100g? I hate when they give values per portion because it’s so subjective what a portion means…). Anyway, I think I was wrong.
        I think things have changed, but my husband said that he did find some ATMs not accepting his card. We took some cash with us and exchanged at the airport. Then we took money from a Citibank distributor close to our hotel and my husband paid in several restaurants with his Visa without any problems… so I suppose at least payment with foreign cards has been improved.
        We didn’t shop food a lot (although I spent hours in big grocery shops underground in Department Stores…), but squid tentacles were served in many places, even in a sushi bar (burnt with a burner and served raw with mayonnaise and wasabi…. a pure delight!). I do speak a bit Japanese, especially the culinary Japanese 😉 so I made sure I knew how to say the things I love, but there were often photos in menus (not to mention English menus which is quite popular in certain districts).

        • says

          Yeah, I can imagine that you researched well in advance how to say all the things you wanted to eat – haha, I bet you were like a “kid in a candy store” (do you know that expression?) :D!

          I’m glad that it’s (at least a little) easier to pay with Western cards now… it was infuriating for me. How about cellphones? Technology has changed significantly and I presume they have things like iPhones over there, and so their networks would support those, and other phones we use here as a result? I felt very isolated at times when I was
          there. I guess I spent almost 2 months over two visits there in total. Couldn’t take money out, couldn’t use my cellphone, couldn’t understand a single thing and it seems like there was always a “trap” waiting for me… I bought a tasty-looking sandwich from 7-Eleven and found it was a “strawberry and cream sandwich”… like, what?? Of course, it was great fun though!

          Your comment about portion size made me chuckle. I think some organisations are pushing for more realistic nutrition information labelling on food. On some (individually-sized, but slightly bigger than the “regular” size) packets of potato chips they will give the nutrition information first “per portion”, and then “per 100g”. Not actually “per bag”. They seem to think people are going to share this bag of chips which takes about 5 minutes to eat!

  2. Helen Smith says

    Hi Charles. Not being a huge cabbage fan, but as someone who has them delivered regularly along with the other organic veges, this is a wonderful way of using them up for me. Too often they sit in the fridge for days, shaming me when I know they could be put to lots of excellent uses. Well done.

    • says

      I find cabbage is delicious when well seasoned and prepared, but it can be so boring and mundane. It’s important to play about with the spices a lot to really give it a bit of a zing – hope you can give this a try!

  3. says

    cauliflower is the low-carber’s friend eh? haha I remember makign cauliflower mash to go with liver and onions, and even makeing cauliflower fried rice during a low-carb stint wayyyyy back. have since learnt to enjoy all foods and food groups in moderation, but definitely can do with a ligher meal some day, and then it’s back to the good ol’ cauli! this looks yummy as always charles (:

    • says

      Hi Shuhan – it’s great isn’t it? I’m not a huge fan of cauliflower when it’s all boiled up (raw is amazing!) but when it’s all mashed up it’s so good actually! So similar to mashed potato and incredibly healthy!

      By the way, you should enter my little game above? Name 4 or 5 ingredients and I’ll make a dish out of them if I choose your entry!

  4. says

    Hey, I happen to love pumpkin. Oh well, to each his own.
    I do love cabbage as well. I’d recently made a slow roast on a bed of shredded cabbage and carrots … sweet and gorgeous … just like I’m imagining this shepherdless pie would taste. I’ve had cauliflower mash before and totally loved it! So a combination of the two … amazing!
    What a great idea to celebrate your blog anniversary! Mine came and went without me noticing it :(
    Happy bloggyversary in advance (will wish you again soon). I’ll have to come back to fill up those boxes later. I have 3 ingredients in my head but can’t come up with another 2 without making your life difficult :)

    • says

      Hi Ping – it’s ok from time to time… Don’t worry… when I’m king of the world one day I won’t ban it :) Your slow roast sounds amazing – will you post about it? I’ll head over and hope that you do! You don’t have to come up with another 2 ingredients… 3 is fine, or 4… Preferably not less than 3 though, otherwise it starts getting a bit hard to really make something nice :)

      • says

        Oh whoops, I didn’t take a pic of the roast. I will try the next time. It didn’t look photo-worthy, all mushed up and brown. Ok, will get back with the ingredients shortly.

  5. says

    Charles, I love a good vegetarian shepherd’s pie. This sounds scrummy! However, much as I love cauliflower, I’d still be tempted to put a layer of mashed potatoes over the layer of mashed cauliflower. You see, along with being a breadaholic, I am a mashedpotatoholic!

  6. says

    Hi Charles, what a great idea, so much healthier than the normal shepherd’s pie. And it super attractive too. I suspect it’s the butter in the mash that allows that gorgeous browning on top. I am making a pulled pork this weekend with the cauliflower celery root mash, slightly healthier than the standard!
    I wonder are you using the du Puys lentils? I bought some when we were in Lyon and now I regret not buying more (damn that weight restriction). Stay tuned on my blog for a recipe in the near future.
    It’s no wonder I am drawn to your blog, cumin is one of my go-to spices too…just love it (well, and perhaps smoked paprika and cayenne).

    • says

      Hi Eva, can you not get du Puys lentils over there? I’ll send you some if you’d like?

      Pulled pork sounds awesome – how did it turn out? I keep meaning to try the cauli mash with celeriac inside… I’m actually making this dish again next week so I might just give it a go then!

  7. says

    Congrats on (almost) reaching a two-year milestone. This is a great looking dinner and I love how it’s vegetarian and has cauliflower instead of potato. What a great twist on the traditional Shepherd’s Pie. This seems a great family meal and I would like to try this xx

  8. says

    Um…I’ve never tried shepherd’s pie in my life! I hear you said “WHAT?!?!” I love potatoes so I know I’ll love it. I think I must eat the original version first and then maybe this. After I started blogging I realized I’m missing so many famous/popular food around the world. Take one step at a time.

    And soon 2nd blogiversary! I remember last year’s, so that means almost one year. Time flies so fast. I have to think of ingredients for you. Will try dropping by later on!

    • says

      Hi Nami, never tried shepherd’s pie?! I’m in shock! lol, actually, you should really try it – it’s so good. I posted a meat version a while back, here – it’s a cottage pie because it has beef; I think Shepherd’s pie traditionally has lamb but these days the differences are very blurred.

  9. says

    What a unique and interesting take on a Shepherd’s pie! I love all the ingredients so am sure I’d love the result, as would my waistline, which is on a diet as I write. Great looking dish, Charles, and happy Blogaversary in advance. :)

    • says

      Thanks Betsy – it was a nice change, and from the taste you’d never have thought the cauliflower on top wasn’t potato… it’s *really* deceptive!

  10. says

    I too love cabbage and its particularly good fried with some mince and Indian spices. I had me some cauliflower mash tonight! Delicious.

    This shepherds pie may not have meat but its filled and topped with great ingredients. Sure looks delicious and filling.

    Nazneen xx

  11. says

    What a nifty meatless meal that doesn’t sound like your family will bitch because they don’t “feel full” because there’s no meat. Maybe that only happens at my house. :)

    Looks delicious, Charles!

    • says

      Haha, actually we only eat meat about 3 times a week on average in this house… I think I’d go off meat for life if I ended up having to eat it for every meal! Bring on the veg I say 😀

  12. says

    What a fabulous idea Charles! I usually don’t like cauliflower but I had cauliflower mash a while back and LOVED it. I bet it’s delicious on this pie! What a great remake of a classic recipe!

    • says

      Thanks MJ – I’m the same… cauliflower is a bit ick, unless raw, but when it’s mashed it somehow completely changes and actually becomes half-way delicious 😀

  13. says

    Great idea with the cauliflower but I agree with Eva about adding celeriac, that would really boost the flavor. Will return to fill in the ingredients list.

    • says

      Thanks Norma – I’m going to be making this again this week actually so I’m going to try the celeriac addition then – I think it will indeed be a nice addition.

  14. says

    This is a very creative dish Charles. I love the carbohydrate count for this — given that I’m trying to cut down on carbs from now until the holidays. Funny but I’m just not a fan of cumin . . . but I’m sure there’s an easy substitute for that — maybe even just thyme?

  15. says

    Now see what you need to do, is have someone make this for me and not tell me it’s cauliflower. It looks phenomenal and I would no doubt dig in none the wiser. 😉 I did think of you the other day though as I ordered a mac and cheese (gourmet variety) with cauliflower in it. I did eat a few bites of the cauliflower too. I love the idea for your two year anniversary celebration. It reminds me of our chopped competition we did New Year’s day. It will be so much fun.

    • says

      Hi Kristy – I was thinking of your competition when I was writing up the post actually – haha, I got your entry and promptly laughed – the first thing you suggested…. omg, why???!!! Well, if it’s picked I’m sure I’ll have to try and fix it up in a way which is delicious! 😀

      • says

        Oh no! I didn’t even think of that. I had that ingredient on the brain (menu planning). If you want feel free to sub another variety. 😉

  16. says

    I love cauliflower mash, I add it to my kids mac n’ cheese…….shhh don’t tell them! I must try this, looks so healthy with all of the vegetables and legumes. Very high in fiber too, I might add!
    Happy bloggervarsary in advance! I’ll have to think of 5 ingredients, when do you need this by and where do we list the ingredients?

    • says

      Thanks Lisa – the form you can fill in with the ingredients is at the bottom of the post, just before the recipe – I set the box to be expanded by default… if you scroll up a bit you can’t miss it! :)

  17. says

    I love cauliflower mash as a replacement for potatoes.. only you could think to change up a Shepherd(less)’s Pie with it.. and vegetarian as well, well done!! I’m far to chicken to give you 5 ingredients.. but look forward to what you do select:)

  18. says

    Charles, I absolutely love this idea and couldn’t help but smile when I viewed your post (let’s just say we were on the same ‘wave’ this week…). This is a powerfully nutritive recipe (!) that includes three of my personal favourite fall/winter ingredients – cabbage (yay!), cauliflower (yay!) and delightful lentil. The result looks fantastic too. I’m with you on the cabbage love…I eat cabbage (in the form of coleslaw) at least twice a week (which reminds me, we went out for dinner last night and had the most delightful chili lime coleslaw salad – de.lish!).

    • says

      Hi Kelly! That coleslaw sounds amazing – I might have to rob that idea and give it a try here. chili lime… mmm, I can well imagine the flavours!

      You know, normally, cauliflower is just so terrible! I love it raw, but it’s incredible – when it’s mashed like this it’s SO deceptive. Never have I encountered a food can change so radically just by pulverising it up!

  19. says

    Congrats on the upcoming anniversary. Sorry I can’t really suggest any ingredients for a dish right now. It’s 6:30 am ET and I woke up to take a pain pill before I jump back into bed for another few hours of sleep. I think I overdid it yesterday.

    My nephew tried a lo-carb diet briefly (the heavy on the meat, mostly fried one) but couldn’t keep it up. It’s so expensive and labour intensive from what I could see. I could reduce my meat intake, I know, but still … cabbage and cauliflower in a shepherd’s pie. Don’t think I could see myself eating more than a portion. :)

  20. says

    I just found your blog – great stuff! I will continue to explore it after commenting. For this St Patrick’s Day I plan on making a low carb Shepherd’s Pie with cauli on top instead of potatoes. We eat a ton of cauli in my house. I plan on experiementing with trying to lighten up the cauli, maybe fold in some egg whites before topping the pie with them. I hope it makes the top a bit more airy and encourage more browning as a finsh. Have you tried anything like that before? How did it go?

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