Puréed Cauliflower’s lively flavor makes for a great substitute for mashed potatoes. Marion’s recipe below.
Why isn’t cauliflower more popular? It is so wonderful—subtle, but not bland, so easy to prepare and so complementary to strong flavors. The part about it also being so healthy (a crucifer packed with vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, and fiber, plus cancer fighting compounds) and even so low-carb is a great big bonus.
This cauliflower purée is so simple that it ranks among our not-exactly-a-recipe recipes. And it’s the perfect complement for Wine-braised Short Ribs.
1 small head cauliflower
water for steaming
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
Discard any leaves that may cling to the stem, then break up the cauliflower head. You want to use everything except the cone-like core and the stem. Break the florets into pieces all about the same size, so that they will finish cooking simultaneously.
Put the cauliflower in a flat-bottomed skillet and pour about 3/4 cup of water around the florets. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover tightly and steam until it is barely fork tender. Most recipes say this will take around 15 minutes, but I find that it actually tends more toward 10 or 11 minutes. Don’t let the cauliflower become too soft. A fork should go in easily, but it shouldn’t be mushy and collapsible. When in doubt, err on the side of less cooked rather than more.
Once the cauliflower is cooked, turn off the heat. Don’t discard the cooking water! Put about half the cauliflower in the bowl of a processor; add a bit of the cooking water—I recommend around 1/4 cup of cooking liquid for each cup of cauliflower, if you want to make a purée that still mounds nicely and doesn’t run all over the plate. Process quickly in short bursts of five or ten seconds. Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl in between so everything s uniformly pureed.
Once the cauliflower starts looking like mashed potatoes (just a few seconds) add the remaining cauliflower. Test it at this point—if it is very wet, don’t add any more cooking liquid yet. Add the butter and the rest of the oil. Process, keeping an eye on it. If the cauliflower looks too grainy and solid, add a judicious amount of cooking liquid. You want it to be smooth in texture, not grainy but not liquid either–visually like mashed potatoes. When the texture is to your liking, carefully add salt. Now it’s ready to serve.
Milk or, if you are feeling lavish, cream.
You can also add a flock of different things to alter this basic recipe:
- During the steaming process, add a clove of garlic [but discard it before puréeing]
- Instead of a mix of olive oil and butter, use all butter
- After it has been puréed, return it to a saucepan, heat slightly, and stir in cheese—Parmesan, or extra sharp cheddar; serve it with sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions for a vegetarian-friendly entrée
I recently ran across a version of this using blue cheese to which I can only say OMDG we are so trying that soon. And we also want to try the Pan-Seared Salmon over Cauliflower Fennel over at Mike’s Table.