Fast, healthy, delicious: Puréed cauliflower

by Terry B on December 10, 2008

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.

Puréed Cauliflower
Serves two

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.


{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

SarahKate December 11, 2008 at 2:47 am

I totally agree… cauliflower is wonderful. I roast it with olive oil, salt, pepper and chilli flakes and I swear, I could eat the whole thing myself. I’ll have to try your recipe here. Thanks!

Terry B December 11, 2008 at 4:54 am

Wow! That sounds delicious, SarahKate.

Emily December 11, 2008 at 11:33 pm

Cauliflower is an under appreciated veggie! I adore them and am glad to see them getting some play. Your recipe sounds fantastic and I will make it for my diabetic dad at Christmas! Thanks! I threw cauliflower on a pizza with pancetta last week. Stop by and say hi if you get a chance

Thanks, Emily

ming the merciless December 12, 2008 at 4:56 am

I can’t say I’ve ever had pureed cauliflower but it can’t be too bad since I love cauliflower raw or cooked.

I’ve only recently tried mashed parsnip with carrots (in lieu of mash potatoes) at the local Irish restaurant. It wasn’t as weird as I thought it would be.

Terry B December 13, 2008 at 11:56 pm

Emily—Cauliflower on pizza sounds great!

ming—That sounds like damning with faint praise for the parsnips and carrots. I have to admit, though, parsnips have a somewhat bigger personality than cauliflower; I think you’d find the cauliflower mild and delicious and not weird at all.

altadenahiker December 14, 2008 at 6:21 pm

I make a soup that is really nothing more than stock, onion, cauliflower, and spinach (of course, hot peppers as well), cooked and then pureed. ‘Tis delish. Ham can be added as well.e

Susan from Food Blogga December 18, 2008 at 1:01 am

It just needs a good marketer. You just helped it out considerably with this post.

Annulla December 20, 2008 at 7:02 pm

Now THAT is the kind of dish I can make tonight. In fact, I think I will, and serve it alongside a nice roasted chicken. It is a day for easy comfort food. Thanks for the inspiration. ::)

Terry B December 21, 2008 at 7:15 pm

altadenahiker—That sounds great! I might fish out some of the cauliflower before puréeing and add the chunks of ham you suggested to give it something chewy.

Susan—So many good-for-you foods just need better marketing, I think.

Annulla—Roast chicken sounds perfect with this cauliflower!

Nicole January 3, 2009 at 5:52 am

I love cauliflower! This would be delicious with short ribs or lamb.

misswendy January 9, 2009 at 12:23 am

my family loved this! it is delicious with the parmesan added.

sapphire March 3, 2011 at 7:22 pm

So i *just* made this an hour ago and darn! it was delicious. I had no idea cauliflower could be this delicious!!!

It’s now on my to-make list for dinner. And my husband is happy that it’s low carb too.

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