This healthy side dish, which calls for just 2 Tablespoons of butter and 2 Tablespoons of milk or cream, is low fat, low carb, easy to make, and really hard to stop eating. You can dress it up in all sorts of ways—with sour cream and dill, cheddar and chives, even lemon juice and baby arugula—or just enjoy it plain.
"This is really good," said my foodie mom.
"Why is it so good?"
"I've decided that the cauliflower must go through some sort of magical transformation when it's puréed, bringing out more of the flavor."
"I think maybe it's the garlic."
"I think I should have cooked both heads of cauliflower."
Until I discovered and fell in love with kohlrabi purée several years ago, the only vegetables I'd mashed up were potatoes and things with the potatoes, like carrots and turnips (both of these combinations are wonderful). But it turns out there's a whole delicious world of versatile vegetable purées out there. My food processor is my new best friend.
One of the most popular puréed vegetables is cauliflower, which is often called mashed cauliflower and is usually touted as a low carb substitute for mashed potatoes, especially around Thanksgiving. But this really isn't fair to the cauliflower purée. It tastes so good it shouldn't be considered a stand-in or alternative to anything.
If you have trouble eating enough fresh vegetables in autumn and winter, try puréeing them. They taste great, and the volume really shrinks down. I had no idea it was so easy to devour an entire head of cauliflower. I've eaten more cauliflower in the past three years I have than during the rest of my entire life.
Recipe below. . .
Farmgirl Susan's Creamy Mashed Cauliflower with Garlic
Makes about 3 cups (which isn't all that much)
Recipes for mashed cauliflower abound, calling for everything from chicken stock and Greek yogurt to a stick of butter and a cup of heavy cream. I went the simple route, which also happens to be low fat and healthy—but doesn't taste like diet food.
I try to avoid boiling vegetables, preferring instead to use what I call the 'steam cheat' method, where you heat a small amount of water in the bottom of the cooking pot and pile the vegetables on top. Of course you can also use a steamer basket to cook your cauliflower.
This is one of those dishes that truly is more than the sum of its parts. It's also a great way to use up that less than perfect head of cauliflower forgotten in the back of the fridge. The fresh garlic mellows as it simmers in the water and adds a nice flavor.
You can increase the butter and/or cream if you like, but it really isn't necessary. You can also gussy up the basic recipe in all sorts of ways (see suggestions below), but the plain version is still my favorite. A close second is the arugula and sour cream variation (instructions below), which reminds me of creamed spinach.
As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients; they really do make a difference.
1 head cauliflower (about 2¼ pounds before trimming), cored and cut into fairly small pieces
2 cloves garlic (or more to taste), sliced into 2 to 4 pieces each
2 Tablespoons organic butter
2 Tablespoons milk or cream
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
Baby arugula (see instructions below)
Fresh lemon juice
Fresh or dried dill
Snipped fresh chives
Finely chopped scallions (green onions)
Finely grated cheddar cheese
Freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
A spoonful or two of your favorite marinara sauce
Add a scant inch of water to a 4-quart pot with a tight fitting lid. (If the pot is larger, the cauliflower will all be under water, and you'll be boiling rather than steaming it). Drop the sliced garlic in the water and add the cauliflower.
Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil over medium high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer, with the lid on, until the cauliflower is very tender, about 15 minutes. (Alternatively, you can cook the cauliflower and garlic in a steamer basket.)
Drain the cauliflower and garlic into a colander (or fish it out of the pot with a slotted spoon) and put it in the bowl of a food processor (I love my KitchenAid 12-Cup Food Processor), along with the butter, milk or cream, salt. Process until smooth. Season to taste, adding a few grinds of fresh pepper if desired.
Stir in one or more of the optional additions if using; dill and sour cream are really good, as are cheddar and chives. Serve hot.
Mashed Cauliflower with Arugula:
Using a slotted spoon, strain the cooked cauliflower and garlic from the pot (leaving the hot water in it) and process as directed above. For each 1 cup of purée, add 2 ounces (about 2 cups) of baby arugula to the pot of hot water and cook for 2 minutes. Strain and process with the cauliflower, along with 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice per each cup of purée.
If you want to make the whole batch with arugula, just add it to the pot with the cauliflower during the last 2 minutes of cooking. If you add a little sour cream to this version, it tastes similar to creamed spinach.
More tasty twists on cauliflower purée from other food bloggers:
Puréed Cauliflower & Cabbage with Scallions & Parmesan from Kalyn's Kitchen
Roasted Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Purée from Off the (Meat) Hook
Creamy Cauliflower Purée with Fenugreek from Food52
Julia Reed's Purée of Cauliflower with Curry from The Wednesday Chef
Roasted Cauliflower Purée with Smoked Paprika from Food52
Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.
© FarmgirlFare.com, the smooth operating foodie farm blog where hopefully it won't take me another three years to get around to sharing my recipe for broccoli purée, which I've eaten on everything from pasta to pizza. As for this cauliflower purée, I call it a side dish, but there are times when it's been a main course. I told you I love this stuff.