Friends, I need to pause a minute and take this picture in. This is no average dish.
Creamy, luscious, cheesy, melty,
mashed potatoes cauliflower mash. caauuull-eeeee-flooowww-eeerrrr mash. This is so totally unreal and so totally my new thing.
You couldn’t see it but I fist-pumped the air and declared victory, with a proud grin when the kids and The Mister called it “mashed potatoes”. Mind you, my family is filled with mashed potato purists who take their love of potatoes very seriously. Keeping their commitment to potato purity in mind, I stayed away from the cauliflower-all-the-things trend…until I finally decided to bite the bullet and try it.
ZOMG, what have I been missing?! How does such an ugly vegetable, that resembles a giant, ugly flower turn into the world’s most incredible comfort food so easily? It becomes an alter ego to the average cauliflower we love to ignore and demands your undivided attention; it becomes the star. For a side dish, this guy sure brings its A game.
Am I weirding you out a little by talking about a vegetable with personality disorder? Please don’t leave…
This past week was St. Patrick’s Day so I made corned beef and cabbage. Normally, I do mashed potatoes with gravy but (a) I didn’t want to peel so many potatoes (b) I’ve been more conscious of my carb consumption (c) I had cauliflower in the fridge that needed to be used before it passed its prime so I gave cauliflower mash a go, with overwhelmingly positive results.
I’ve always been one of those people who like real food. I mean stick-to-your-ribs type of food like chili, or chicken tamale pie. I’m not one for pretentious food with copious amount of foam; you get hungry like 20 seconds later. When I have a meal I like to be full for hours so I don’t end up being tempted by potato chips or cookies. YOU try saying no to those. But if I fill up on good, semi-healthy food, I’m less tempted. So given that background, when I say the cauliflower mash is legit, I mean it’s actually very legitimately filling and satisfying.
I’m not saying it’s a 100% copycat substitute for mashed potatoes because cauliflower is not a starchy veggie like potatoes. If you want actual mashed potatoes, you won’t be able to find something that tastes exactly like in a ‘veggie x’ mash. However, cauliflower mash is just as delicious and becomes surprisingly fluffy and rich, without the starch. Cauliflower, when cooked, has a slightly mildly sweet flavor. Adding roasted garlic builds on that sweetness because the sugars in the garlic caramelize as it roasts and transforms into a bulb of concentrated, caramelized flavor. In place of the cream you often find in mashed potatoes, I subbed in 1/3 less fat cream cheese and a couple of pats of butter. I’ve tried it with butter and butter substitute (like Smart Balance), and the difference was not significant enough for me to stick strictly to one over the other.
And when you add some freshly cracked black pepper on top? PERFECTION!
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
- 1 head garlic
- 2 tbsp 1/3 less fat cream cheese, cubed
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets (4–5 cups)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Cut the top off the entire head off the garlic so that a part of the cloves are exposed. Place exposed clove side down on a piece of aluminum foil large enough to tightly wrap around the garlic head.* Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the garlic becomes soft and is easily able to be squeezed out of the skin. Set aside to cool.
- Bring a large stockpot of water to a rolling boil on high heat. Add 1/2 tsp of salt. Add cauliflower florets and bring back to a boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until cauliflower stalks are tender.
- While the cauliflower is cooking, squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin into a large, deep bowl. Add cream cheese and salt. Strain cauliflower and combine with the cream cheese and salt mixture. Using a hand blender or food processor, puree cauliflower until smooth. Stir in pepper, cheese and butter.
- Serve hot with additional pats of butter on top, if desired.
*You can do this ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to use.