Mashed cauliflower is a delicious and more nutritious alternative to mashed potatoes and it’s so easy to make. Enhance it with cheese and herbs to make it even better.
For many years friends of ours hosted a post-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner, always the Saturday following the official holiday. The delayed celebration was their way of ensuring family and friends would not have to choose between spending Thanksgiving with them and other family; everyone was always available. Deep fried turkey was the main item on the menu, accompanied by traditional holiday sides. It was a potluck affair and over the years some menu items became permanent assignments for specific attendees. Dessert and stuffing duty were claimed early on so appetizers usually landed on me and a few others, an arrangement I was perfectly happy with.
One year, much to my dismay, I was assigned mashed potatoes. I wasn’t prepared for that level of responsibility. Roast a 22-pound turkey? No problem. But mashed potatoes always intimidated me. My husband isn’t big the biggest fan of them so I never got a lot of practice. I was so worried about showing up with less-than-perfect results that I probably tried too hard. I may have even cried in front of the bowl of potatoes and hand mixer as I prayed that afternoon, “Please don’t turn into glue”, while my husband tried to console and assure me that all would be fine. Our friends being too polite to say anything less than nice, I’ll never know what everyone really thought of my contribution that year. That seems like a lifetime ago and I’d like to think I’m a much better cook now but still…I haven’t prepared mashed potatoes since.
This story is part of the reason why and and also because of this recipe. Mashed cauliflower is foolproof and for me, just as satisfying as mashed potatoes (I love them but I leave the prep to someone else). Because cauliflower is not a starchy vegetable like a potato it’s virtually impossible to over process.
Does Mashed Cauliflower Taste Like Mashed Potatoes?
Of course, the big question is: does mashed cauliflower taste like mashed potatoes? My husband says yes while I say not really, though they’re not so different either. They both benefit from flavorful add-ins like cheese, herbs, butter and garlic. In terms of texture, mashed cauliflower needs no help from milk or cream to give it mashed potato’s coveted smooth, creamy consistency, so it makes for a very good substitute though the dish is worthy of recognition on its own rather than just as an alternative.
I generally don’t follow fad diets but I like having healthier options. This is a low-carb, more nutritious alternative to a favorite American comfort food and for me and my husband, a nice change from the way I usually serve cauliflower at home, roasted. It might be high time to tackle mashed potatoes again but for now, I’ll enjoy mashed cauliflower bliss a bit longer.
Mashed Cauliflower Notes and Tips
- Steam instead of Boil: Steaming cauliflower helps to retain most of its nutrients and helps with the texture of the final product. Boiling adds extra moisture to the cauliflower that can yield a looser texture than mashed potato consistency.
- Garlic: Garlic is a wonderful flavor enhancer for mashed cauliflower. You can sauté garlic separately before pureeing with the cauliflower. For this recipe I used a small amount of garlic powder to eliminate an extra cooking step.
- Serve with Gravy: Elevate simple mashed cauliflower by serving alongside mushroom sauce or gravy.
Mashed cauliflower is a delicious and more nutritious alternative to mashed potatoes and it's so easy to make. Enhance it with cheese and herbs to make it even better.
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (or more to taste)
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, your choice (dill, parsley, chives or rosemary)
- salt and pepper, to taste
Bring a pot of water to a boil and use a steam to steam florets for 10 -13 minutes, depending on amount. The cauliflower should be tender enough to easily pierce with a fork with no resistance.
Transfer florets to a food processor (or blender), add pinch of salt and pepper, garlic powder and puree until smooth. Scrape sides with a spatula in between.
Transfer the mashed cauliflower to a bowl and stir in herbs of choice, grated Parmigiano Reggiano and adjust seasonings if necessary. Top with more herbs and a pat of butter if desired. Serve warm.