Sunday, November 18, 2012

Leftover Turkey (or chicken) Shepherd's Pie Casserole Recipe with Garlic-Parmesan Cauliflower Topping

This Turkey Shepherd's Pie with Cauliflower Topping is a great way to use Thanksgiving leftovers, or make it with chicken if you prefer.

Leftover Turkey (or chicken) Shepherd's Pie with Garlic-Parmesan Cauliflower Topping

Yes, I realize a lot of you are still looking for Thanksgiving Recipes, but in the weird world of food blogging I've already tested a few recipes for leftover turkey and fallen in love with this Leftover Turkey Shepherd's Pie Casserole with Garlic-Parmesan Cauliflower Topping.  The days we sampled this recipe my nephew and cooking assistant Jake kept saying "This is really good" every time he took a bite.  The recipe uses turkey gravy, but if you don't have any leftover gravy from Thanksgiving, you really should buy some gravy (like we did!) and give this recipe a try.

I wanted to use turkey gravy to hold the filling together and flavor it, so I looked for the lowest carb gravy I could find and this one that I found at Costco has 3 carbs in 1/4 cup or 21 carbs in the 1 3/4 cups I used in the recipe.  It's hard to make a diet-friendly recipe that has gravy, but this is definitely not too bad for a dish that makes 8 servings.

Cut up the cauliflower and cook with the garlic cloves for 12-15 minutes in boiling salted water.

Drain cauliflower very well.

We used a hand beater to whip the cauliflower and garlic like you would potatoes, adding a little milk, Parmesan cheese, and seasoning with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

While cauliflower cooks, saute the onion in a little olive oil, then add the poultry seasoning.

I used one cup each of finely diced carrots and frozen peas.  Cook the carrots in the microwave for about 3 minutes to barely soften them.

You'll need about 3 cups diced leftover turkey.  We cut our turkey into chunks about 1 inch square.

Add the turkey, partially cooked carrots, peas, and gravy to the pan and simmer a few minutes so the gravy thickens a little more.

Spray an 8" x 8" casserole dish with non-stick spray and spread the turkey mixture in the bottom.

Then spread the mashed garlic-parmesan cauliflower mixture over that.

Top with grated low-fat cheese.

Bake uncovered at 375F/190C for about 30 minutes, or until the top is browned and the casserole is bubbly.  Serve hot.

Leftover Turkey (or chicken) Shepherd's Pie Casserole with Garlic-Parmesan Cauliflower Topping
(Makes 8 servings; recipe created by Kalyn.)

Filling Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped in pieces about 1/2 inch
2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 cup raw carrots, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas
3 cups diced leftover turkey or chicken, cut into pieces about 1 inch square
1 3/4 cups turkey gravy (for South Beach Diet, use the gravy with the lowest amount of carbs you can find)
1/2 cup low-fat grated cheese blend (I used Four Cheese Blend from Costco)

Topping Ingredients:
1 medium-sized head of cauliflower, cut into small pieces
3-4 large cloves garlic
2 T low-fat or skim milk
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C.  Bring a medium sized pot of salted water to a boil.  Chop cauliflower into small pieces and simmer with the garlic cloves until it's soft enough to mash easily.  Drain cauliflower very well; then use an immersion blender, food processor, or hand beater to combine the cauliflower with the milk and Parmesan.  Season the mashed cauliflower with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

While the cauliflower cooks, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and saute the onion 3-4 minutes, then add the poultry seasoning and saute about 1 minute more.  Put the chopped carrots in a glass measuring cup, cover with cling-wrap, and microwave about 3 minutes, or just until barely starting to soften.  Add the partially cooked carrots, diced turkey, peas, and turkey gravy to the pan and simmer on low for 10 minutes, or until the gravy is slightly thickened. 

Spray an 8" x 8" casserole dish with non-stick spray.  (You need a dish with fairly high sides.)  Spread the turkey-vegetable mixture in the bottom of the dish.  Top with the cauliflower, using a rubber scraper to spread it out so it covers the filling.  Top with the grated cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbling and the top is lightly browned.  Serve hot.

This freezes well; to reheat, cook in microwave for a few minutes or heat in an oven or toaster oven in a small ovenproof dish covered with foil.

Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:
I used mashed cauliflower in place of potatoes and looked for the lowest-carb variety of turkey gravy I could find to make this a lower-carb dish for the South Beach Diet.  Still, even with those changes gravy does contain some flour and the dish has carrots and peas, both of which are high in natural sugar.  I'd recommend saving this for a "once-in-a-while-treat" for phase two.  You could eat it more often for phase three. 

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More After-Thanksgiving Casserole Ideas for Leftover Turkey:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Turkey and Stuffing Casserole from Budget Bytes

Brown Rice Casserole with Leftover Turkey (or chicken), Mushrooms, Sour Cream, Cheese, and Thyme from Kalyn's Kitchen

Gluten-Free Turkey Pot Pie from Gluten-Free Easily

Turkey or Chicken Lasagna with Sage and Three Cheeses from Kalyn's Kitchen

Gluten-Free Turkey and Sweet Potato Enchiladas from Gluten-Free Goddess 

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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  1. Thanks for posting this Kalyn.I'm now buying extra turkey :)

  2. What a great idea to use a cauliflower topping.

  3. J's Mom, so glad you like the idea so much!

    Barbara, we loved it, even my nephew who's kind of a potatoes fan.

  4. This looks great! I've been looking for an alternative to making pot pies and this looks like a winner.

    Just a request for the future: could you list weight (in grams) for protein items, in addition to the volume measure? It makes it easier for using nutrition software.

  5. I love having cauliflower in the topping. Looks fantastic. I haven't had a shepherd's pie in ages and now know what to do with some of the leftover turkey:)

  6. Thanks Lisa. Will try to remember to do that when I know it.

    Lora thanks! It was really a hit with my nephew.

  7. Shepherd's pie without potatoes! What an inspired way to use leftovers. (And once again, I wish we had a Costco nearby.)

  8. Lydia, it was just an idea that popped into my mind, but it really worked.

  9. I'm pretty sure most people have their menus planned already (minus myself lol) and so leftover recipes are totally appropriate! This looks like such a great way to redo that turkey!

  10. Yum! The cauliflower topping sounds fantastic!

  11. Joanne, you're not the only one who's not completely settled on a menu, lol!

    Thanks Susan; love it.

  12. I only learned what Shepherd's Pie was when I moved to Utah. I guess it wasn't popular in the South. Your version with cauliflower mash on top sounds perfect!

  13. This looks so tasty right about now!! Yum

  14. Becky, that's interesting. I thought it was pretty much all over the U.S.

    Elizabeth, glad you like it.

  15. BRILLIANT and healthy update - cauliflower - never woulda thunk it. You always teach me something new!

  16. I made this and it was very tasty but... It just seemed like a lot of gravy. It just fit into my casserole dish but with no room and did spill out a bit while cooking. Could you cut the amount of gravy in half? I also used a 12 oz bag frozen peas and carrots and that simplified a step. I also added a half of cup of celery and that came out great.

  17. Holly, I did cut down the amount of gravy from the first time I made it for this recipe, but you could certainly cut it down more (or simmer longer so the gravy is really thick.) Glad you liked it.

  18. Holly, I'm also wondering if there was extra liquid from the frozen peas and carrots?

  19. Good morning Kalyn!

    Firstly thank you so very much for all the recipes you've personally created and the other recipes that you've found for us. Some you hit right out of the park for me but others not so much as we all have our own likes and dislikes.

    This recipe I pinned back this summer sometime and I've been making it ever since. The first time I made it with leftover chicken and spicy chicken sausage, it was a hit. The second time I made it with ground chicken and spicy chicken sausage, another hit. I just continued to make it but then it was Christmas and the turkey was in the oven, here was my chance.

    Obviously I had a lot of leftover turkey as we purchased an unfrozen fresh turkey for Christmas. We live in Northern Ontario, Canada and the turkeys just come up to our doors and eat the bird seed, so they are easy to get but we let the butcher do it.

    I don't even need a recipe anymore because this is so easy. I changed it up a bit by using a California mix and fresh green beans instead. I've used this before to fool some of our friends who are strictly meat and potatoes people and it worked. I have also changed up the vegetables to a Chinese or Thai mix and they all work wonderfully.

    Thank you so much, I do look forward to 2015 and losing some unwanted pounds. And if you have any healthy smoothie recipes you can be sure I will be pinning them as well.

    1. Hi April,
      Sounds like you've been having fun creating variations of this; I love hearing that. Not really a smoothie fan so I don't think you'll ever find those here, sorry.

  20. I adore shepherd's pie, but I've never tried cauliflower topping. This will be excellent. I have included your recipe in my March Real Food Meal Plan. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Melissa, I will go check it out!


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