Faux Taters

It was well before 7 am the other morning when I was walking my dog and I ran into a neighborhood friend that I went to high school with. She knows I cook all the time so she asked me how she could eat "cleaner" and then shamefully added that she "didn't like vegetables, but loved meat and potatoes."

I suggested she start by roasting vegetables and promised her I would place a link to my roasted vegetable post on her Facebook page.

Actually, it was her response to the post which gave me real insight into how she truly felt about vegetables...she actually spelled it out like this, "v-e-g-e-t-a-b-l-e-s." So I started thinking...perhaps she wasn't even ready for roasted vegetables, but needed baby steps.

When I caught a glimpse of the beautiful organic cauliflower today at Central Market for a mere $1.99 (the non-organic was $3.49...hello!), I decided to make something even vegetable haters, like my neighbor, could love.

It was popular during the Atkins craze...they called it "mock potatoes." Actually, it's mashed cauliflower. And it's absolutely delicious.

All you need is a head of cauliflower, a steamer basket, a big pot and a Cuisinart. Along with milk and butter (or Smart Balance), of course.

So, I challenge you to make this and see if you can trick your family and loved ones into thinking they're eating mashed potatoes. But you have to sell the dish as "mashed potatoes." Because I swear that's what they'll think they're eating!!

I'd love to hear if your efforts are successful.

Buen provecho!

Mashed Cauliflower
The Cowgirl Gourmet

Print recipe

Serves 4-6

1 head of cauliflower, preferably a super fresh head with the jacket on and one that is not in plastic, cut into similar-sized florets
1/4 cup whipping cream (I like to use a little whipping cream for some added fat and yumminess, although if you don't have it, whole milk will work just fine...just use 1/2 cup of whole milk instead of 1/4 cup of both cream and milk)
1/4 cup milk, plus a little more if needed
2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 Tablespoons Smart Balance or butter
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional add-ins: garlic clove(s) and Parmesan to grate on top

Cut the cauliflower into florets that are nearly the same size so they steam in the same amount of time.

In a pot, place the steam basket and add water until it just touches the bottom of the steam basket. Put a cover on the pot and place over high heat.

Once the water begins to boil and steam, add the cauliflower florets evenly (and drop in the garlic now if you are using) and cover.

Turn the heat down just a touch to medium-high and let steam for 15-20 minutes. You will want to check the cauliflower every so often to see if a fork goes through a floret or not. You want it soft, but definitely not mushy.

When the cauliflower is cooked, turn off the heat and remove the lid.

Carefully place half of the cauliflower florets into a large Cuisinart, add 1/4 cup of whipping cream (or whole milk), 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 2-3 Tablespoons butter or Smart Balance and puree. Once everything is somewhat pureed, add the rest of the cauliflower and the remaining 1/4 cup of milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt and EVOO. You may need to add a bit more milk or cream at this point in order to get more liquid in there so it continues to puree thoroughly.

When everything is pureed, taste for seasoning. You may want to add a bit more salt and certainly plenty of freshly ground pepper. Once it is seasoned the way you want it, remove the mashed cauliflower from the Cuisinart bowl. Place in serving dish, top with a drizzle of EVOO, some fresh black pepper (and perhaps a bit of grated Parmesan) and see if you can fool the family with these delicious "mashed potatoes."
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