Thursday 25 December 2014

Carb your enthusiasm: Cottage pie with leek and cauliflower mash

Annie Bell

Published 06/01/2014 | 18:49

Smothered with cherry tomatoes and spring onions before being baked, the pie is every bit as lavish as the original.

This delicate pale green mash has that wholesome silky texture that is exclusive to leek soups and purées.

Smothered with cherry tomatoes and spring onions before being baked, the pie is every bit as lavish as the original.

Don't worry too much about the ratio of leeks to cauliflower -- you want more or less 1.2kg in total but it doesn't matter too much how you weigh them.

Serves 6


For the mince:

50g unsalted butter

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 slim carrots, trimmed, peeled and thinly sliced

2 sticks celery heart, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 tbsps fresh oregano or marjoram leaves, or 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

1kg lean minced beef

200ml red wine

1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes

2 tbsps tomato purée

2 tsps Worcestershire sauce

Sea salt

Black pepper

For the mash:

600g leeks (trimmed weight), thickly sliced

600g small cauliflower florets

Freshly grated nutmeg

A bunch of slim spring onions (about 75g trimmed weight), sliced

150g small cherry tomatoes, halved


Heat half the butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat, add the sliced and chopped vegetables and herbs, and fry for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly coloured.

Add the meat, turn up the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until it changes colour.

Add the red wine, chopped tomatoes and purée, Worcestershire sauce and some seasoning.

Bring to a simmer then cook over a very low heat for 50-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until nearly all the juices have been absorbed.

Keep a careful eye on it towards the end to prevent it from burning. Tilt the pan and skim off any surface fat, then taste for seasoning.

While the mince cooks, start making the mash. Place the leeks and cauliflower in a large saucepan with 150ml water, dot with the remaining 25g butter, add a tablespoon of olive oil and some salt. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover and cook over a low heat for 15-25 minutes, stirring halfway through, until very tender. Tip the contents of the pan into a food processor and reduce to a purée, seasoning it with nutmeg and more salt if necessary. You tend to get the best results if you do this in a couple of batches.

Transfer the mince to a shallow ovenproof dish or roasting tin (about 20 x 30cm), pressing down to level the surface. Spread the mash on top. You can make the pie in advance, in which case leave to cool, cover and chill. Preheat the oven to 180 C fan/200 C electric/gas 6.

Toss the spring onions and cherry tomatoes with the remaining tablespoon of oil and scatter over the surface.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until the vegetables on top are golden.

Carbohydrate 13.3g Protein 43.8g

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