Plant-Based Shepherd's Pie Crowned with Gilfeather Turnips & Cauliflower Mash

Did you know Gilfeather turnips have been the Vermont State Vegetable since May 24, 2016?

The Gilfeather turnip is a hybrid of a rutabaga and turnip created at the turn of the 20th century by Wardsboro horticulturist , John Gilfeather, owner of Gilfeather Farm on Gilfeather Rd. in Wardsboro, Vermont. Wardsboro likes to celebrate this with a turnip festival each fall.

Sweet , mild and creamy, the Gilfeather turnip doesn’t have the sulfurous back-of-the-throat bitterness that rutabaga and turnips tend to have. They are best harvested after a very hard frost when the water is converted into sugars to protect the turnip from freezing.

Gilfeather turnips are great raw and can be used as crudite with a dip, and they are a delicious replacement for potatoes mashed with your choice of fat, salt, and cream. They are high in Vitamin C, and rich in complex carbohydrates that contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Both the rutabaga and the turnip are cruciferous vegetables in the Brassica genus which are superfoods in their own right. Sulforaphane, is thought to be the main active ingredient in cruciferous vegetables, significantly improving our ability to detoxify carcinogens, “which may protect our brain, protect our eyesight, protect against free radicals, induce our detoxification enzymes, help prevent cancer, as well as help treat it.” In this recipe, they are the sweet and creamy crown that tops this plant-based shepherd’s pie full of cancer protective phytonutrients, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatories derived from the cauliflower, onions, carrots, butternut squash, black beans and mushrooms.

The black beans, low in fat and high in protein, magnesium, folate, zinc, copper, iron, phosphorous, and other vitamins and minerals, also excel in their fiber content, one of the most important nutrients we need in our diets. Beans also contain “resistant” starch which is the starch you don’t digest but your gut bacteria do! Beans are perfect prebiotics and improve insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar, reduce cholesterol and triglycerides. If your worried about the phytates and the lectins that the snake-oil-salesman-cloaked-as-a-doctor tries to make you believe are poison (so he can sell his product to you), don’t worry. Just soak the beans for 8-12 hours. The phytic acid will be deactivated. Lectins act as natural pesticides as the legumes grow. Thoroughly cook your beans, better yet, with a pressure cooker, and the lectins are deactivated (pgs 44-47).

Plant-Based Shepherd's Pie

Crowned with Gilfeather Turnips & Cauliflower Mash

highlighting Gilfeather Turnips, Vermont’s State Vegetable

12 servings


Mashed Turnips and Cauliflower

  • 2 lbs. Evening Song Farm certified organic Gilfeather Turnips, scrubbed, ends removed, medium dice (about 4 cups diced)

  • 1 head cauliflower, washed, cored and cut into med florets

  • 4 TBS vegan butter, (Alternatively you can use a fat of your choice grass-fed ghee, butter, olive oil or cashew cream )

  • 1/4 cup-1/2 cup unflavored and unsweetened non-dairy or dairy milk

  • 1/2 -1 tsp sea salt (to taste)

  • 1/2 -1 tsp black pepper (to taste)

Cooked Black Beans

  • 1 cup of Yoder Farm dried (uncooked) black beans or pinto beans washed and soaked overnight (3 cups cooked)

  • 4 cups of water

  • 1 leaf of kombu (4-6 inches) OPTIONAL


  • 1 Tbs. olive or avocado oil or 2 Tbs broth

  • 2 medium Evening Song Farm Certified Organic brown onions, diced small

  • 2-4 Evening Song Farm Certified Organic garlic cloves, minced

  • 3 stalks celery, chopped medium dice

  • 1 lb. Dutchess Farm carrots or approximately 4-5 medium sized carrots scrubbed and diced medium

  • 1 2-lb. whole Dutchess Farm butternut squash, peeled and medium dice (approx. 4 -5 cups of squash)

  • 8 oz mushrooms of your choice, sliced

  • 2 cups vegetable stock*

  • 1 oz dried mushrooms such as porcini or shitake

  • 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

  • 2 cups loosely packed chopped kale (stems removed) or spinach or 2 cups frozen leaf spinach

  • 2 tsp. or approx. 50 “grinds” of Dutchess Farm’s Garlic, Sage, and Thyme Grinder

  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika


Black Beans

  1. Drain the soaking water and place the soaked beans, the water and the kombu in a pressure cooker (I use the Instant Pot) and set to pressure for 12 minutes. Natural Release.

  2. With a sieve over a bowl, separate the beans from the bean stock but keep the bean stock.

  3. Clean out the Instant Pot as you will use it again.

Mashed Turnips and Cauliflower

  1. Using a steam basket inside of a pot, with several cups of water, place the diced turnips.

  2. With the lid on, steam for 10 minutes and then add the cauliflower on top of the turnips and steam both until both the cauliflower and turnips are fork tender.

  3. Mash with the fat of your choice plus 1/4 cup plant-based or dairy milk using a hand masher , hand beater, or food processor.

  4. Salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Set aside.

Stock (*adding dried mushrooms and making a puree is optional. I think the dried mushrooms add a depth of flavor.)

  1. In a pan, heat the vegetable stock until it begins to boil. Add the dried mushrooms. Turn off the heat and let soak for 20 minutes then puree in a blender.


  1. Turn the Instant Pot on by pressing the saute button. Once the pot is hot, add the oil. Add the onions and saute until brown, 3-5 minutes.

  2. Add the garlic, celery, and mushrooms, and saute for several minutes until they start to soften and brown and the mushrooms release their juice. Add some vegetable stock to help the vegetables cook and make sure they don’t stick.

  3. Add the diced carrots and the butternut squash. Pour in the remaining vegetable stock that has been pureed with the dried mushrooms. Lock the lid on and pressure for 3 minutes. Natural release.

  4. Pour off the liquid into the blender. Add 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables to the liquid and puree to make a thickish gravy. Add back to the vegetables.

  5. Add the spinach, the black beans, the balsamic vinegar and the spices to the pot of vegetable and stir.

Putting it all together

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the rack in the middle of the oven.

  2. Pour the filling into either one large Pyrex 9x12 casserole dish or 2 deep pie dishes. Leave some room for the turnip cauliflower mash.

  3. Spread the cauliflower mash in a layer over the vegetables from rim to rim.

  4. Place the casserole dish on a baking sheet in case of overflow.

  5. Bake for 40-60 minutes (when the butternut squash is soft). The turnip cauliflower mash should become slightly browned.

Enjoy over several meals. This can be frozen in single portions.

Thanks to for the caulflower turnip mash recipe.