Shiitake Cottage Pie with Cauliflower Mash

vegan cottage pie

This completely plant-based take on a traditional cottage pie will blow your socks off. It’s full of shiitake mushrooms which means it packs a meaty, umami punch as well as being naturally high in vitamin b12. It’s also made using cauliflower mash for a low GI but big flavour alternative to potato. It tastes seriously bold with a silky smooth mouth-feel which just screams “Sunday Comfort Food!”


For the Cauliflower Mash
  • 550g cauliflower florets
  • 70g vegan butter
  • Pinch flaky sea salt
For the Filling
  • 40g dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • ½ red onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 2 T plain white flour
  • 1 T tomato puree
  • 100ml vegan red wine
  • 500ml vegan vegetable stock or bouillon
  • 2 T dark soy sauce
  • ½ t dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves


To Make the Cauliflower Mash

  1. Using a cheese grater, grate the cauliflower or chop finely.
  2. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the vegan butter. Allow the butter to melt.
  3. Add the cauliflower and saute, stirring often, for a few minutes or until it smells nutty and appears lightly creamy.
  4. Boil a kettle of water and add just enough boiling water to cover the cauliflower. Bring to a simmer and leave for around 10 minutes until the cauliflower is very soft.
  5. Once soft, place a fine sieve over a medium-sized bowl and pour the cauliflower into the sieve. Very gently, using the back of a spoon, push out any residual water in the cauliflower then leave it in the sieve over the bowl for 5 minutes to steam dry. Reserve the strained water.
  6. Place the cauliflower into a separate bowl and, using an immersion blender or a potato masher, puree/mash the cauliflower until smooth.
  7. If the mixture seems too thick, add a few tablespoons of the strained cauliflower water, mix well and blend again. Set aside.

To Make the Filling

  1. Place the dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Cover with a lid and leave to rehydrate for a minimum of 15 minutes.
  2. Once the mushrooms are hydrated, begin making your filling. Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the vegetable oil. Once hot, add the onion and fry lightly for a few minutes until starting to soften. Add the garlic, carrot, and celery and fry for a further 5 minutes, stirring often to ensure nothing burns. This is your mirepoix.
  3. While the mirepoix cooks, remove the mushrooms from their soaking liquid and gently squeeze out any excess moisture before finely chopping them. They should resemble mince, so don’t worry if they aren’t cubed perfectly – they should be rough and irregular.
  4. Add the mushrooms to the mirepoix and fry for a further minute or so. Add the flour and stir to coat all the vegetables.
  5. Mix in the tomato puree, red wine, vegetable stock, soy sauce, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and allow the mixture to bubble away gently for a few minutes until it has thickened slightly. Remove from the heat.

To Make the Cottage Pie

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.
  2. Transfer the filling to a small, 2 person pie dish (rectangular or circular is fine). Level it out with the back of a spoon.
  3. Carefully top the filling with the cauliflower mash and spread out in an even layer. Use a fork to create rough ridges in the pie then sprinkle with a little flaky sea salt and black pepper if desired.
  4. Place the pie dish on a baking tray in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. If after 30 minutes you find the top isn’t browned, open the oven and turn to the grill/broil setting at maximum temperature. Grill until lightly browned.
  5. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley (optional) and enjoy!


Cauliflower mash is an insanely delicious alternative to potato. It’s much lower GI and much lower in calories so makes for a healthier option with zero compromises on taste. Here are a couple of tricks for making insanely smooth, creamy cauliflower mash.

Finely Chop Your Cauliflower

You want the cauliflower to cook super quick and evenly so before you start cooking, make sure it’s in tiny pieces. You can even use a box-style cheese grater to essentially “rice” the cauliflower. Just watch those fingers!

Fry Before You Boil

Before submerging in water, be sure to fry off the cauliflower in a little vegan butter or oil. This really activates the nutty, delicious cauliflower flavour. I find if you go straight to boiling, you can end up with a slightly sulfurous tasting mash. There’s no need to let it brown, just a quick fry will do!

Just Cover the Cauliflower with Water

You won’t need too much water to make cauliflower mash – just enough to cover the cauliflower. Cauliflower has a tendency to hold much more water than potato, so we have to be cautious about introducing too much moisture. Make sure the cauliflower is just about covered and simmering away. This should be perfect for a smooth mash.

Drain the Cauliflower Well

Once soft, place a sieve over a bowl and pour in your cauliflower. You’ll need to reserve some of the strained liquid as it can be useful for thinning your mash if it ends up too thick. Really push the moisture through the sieve with the back of a spoon and leave the cauliflower to steam itself dry for 5 minutes or so before mashing. 

Mash the Cauliflower

I like to use a stick blender, but a potato masher or ricer will work wonderfully too. Whatever you use, make sure your mash is super smooth and silky. As mentioned above, if the mash is too thick, add a few tablespoons of the reserved liquid and stir well to combine. Season with salt, pepper, and a little extra vegan butter if you like and it’s ready to use!

Top the Pie

Now you just have to top the pie and you’re good to go! Be sure to drag a fork through the mash to give it a nice craggy surface so it browns nicely in the oven. Enjoy!


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