Monday, October 29, 2012

Creamy Cauliflower Purée with Shiitake and Smoked Paprika

  
A couple of weeks ago, I served my family a side of cauliflower purée and my husband complimented me on the mashed potatoes (true story).
 
Now I'm not sure if everyone would find the consistency of mashed cauliflower to be that of mashed potato but I will say that it has a refreshingly light texture in comparison to the denser/starchier potato while still managing to satisfy with its gentle creaminess and delicious taste.  
 
You may also find mashed cauliflower easier on the digestive system as it doesn't tend to leave you with the same feeling of heaviness/bloating that many experience from the carbohydrate load in potato.
 
If you (or your children) have never been a big fan of cauliflower, puréeing the vegetable is a fun way of varying the texture and appearance such that it might allow you greater success at working this powerfully nutritive crucifer into the diet.
 
If you've not yet tried it, this is a simple and enormously tasty recipe that you can adapt according to your personal preferences and dietary needs.
 
You can also have a look at how my friend Charles over at Five Euro Food  incorporated cauliflower purée into a delicious meal.
 
 
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Cauliflower and the Mighty Crucifers (sounds like a great new thriller!)
 
Not only is cauliflower replete with vitamins, minerals and fibre, a significant body of evidence also suggests that it may guard against certain forms of cancer.
 
Along with its other cruciferous friends (broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale, Brussels sprouts), cauliflower is known for its high concentration of cancer-fighting chemicals called glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are broken down by bacteria in our digestive tract and transformed into bioactive compounds known as isothiocyanates and indole-3-carbinol.

Scientists are learning that these compounds help destroy cancer-causing substances by regulating our body's detoxification enzymes.
 
Now who would have ever thought that the innocuous tasting, and somewhat funny looking, cauliflower could be such a heavy hitter in the health department!
 

Creamy Cauliflower Purée with Shiitake and Smoked Paprika
  • One large head of cauliflower, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika (or whatever paprika you have on hand)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, substitute milk if you prefer
  • 2 heaping Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Sea salt & coarse pepper to taste
  •  

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Notes:
 
I chose to use a smoked paprika (a rich, woodsy complement to the savoury notes in the parmesan and powdered herbs) but a sweet Hungarian paprika would work very nicely here as well.  The key is to use a paprika that is relatively fresh (ie: hasn't been sitting around the pantry since you first moved in) so that you benefit from the best and boldest flavour.  You can certainly use a standard paprika but it won't lend the same intensity of flavour to the mix.
 
 
 
 
Directions:
 
Place chopped cauliflower florets into a large pan with just enough water to cover the pieces.  Cover and bring to a boil for about 1 minute.  You do not want to kill the cauliflower by overcooking it but rather just get it to the point that it is al dente (firm but not hard).  Rinse cooked cauliflower in cold water and set aside.
 
Meanwhile, sautée shiitake mushroom with some olive oil in a skillet on stove set to medium-high heat just until it develops a nice darkened colour/sear.  Add a half Tbsp or so of paprika to the mushrooms and mix to combine.  Remove pan from heat.
 
Place cooked cauliflower pieces in a blender or food processor and add: 2 Tbsp or so of olive oil (or milk if you prefer), pamesan cheese, onion powder, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.  Blend until the mixture is well combined and takes on a purée consistency. Adjust seasonings and thickness by adding more liquid if necessary.
 
Place puréed cauliflower into a large serving dish or individual serving dishes and top with another sprinkle of paprika and some warm shiitake mushrooms. 
  
 
 

22 comments:

  1. What a good alternative (sort of) to mashed potatoes. Haha. I love cauliflower and it's nice to see in puree form so that we can use it as a side dish or put another dish over the puree. Shiitake has great umami and it definitely compliments with the light cauliflower flavor. Lovely!!

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  2. Haha, I'm not sure cauliflower will ever fully take the place of potato in our hearts and in our bellies but it's nice to know there are alternatives and ways of varying the stock, you know? Cheers Nami!

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  3. So funny that your husband thought these were mashed potatoes - I'll have to try that on my hubby. My kids do like cauliflower, so I'll have to try pureeing it and seeing what they think. Bet they'd love it.

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  4. This looks very good, and creative way to use cauliflower puree. We love couliflower andy way, shape or form. I've made a cauliflower dip using steamed cauliflower and some fresh ranch dressing and brought it to a Christmas party served it with the scoops fritos, everyone liked it and had a hard time figuring out what it was madefrom. I will make this soon!at it

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  5. What a delicious side - I'm familiar with cauliflower puree, but I love that you added shiitake mushrooms and smoked paprika as well.

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  6. I've been using cauliflower mash instead of potatoes for quite some time, and we love it for all of the reasons you indicated. I will often add some celery root into the purée to give it some body and the flavour is great too. I adore mushrooms and think the shitake's would add an incredible earthiness to this dish. Hmmm, I was going to make couscous on the weekend, but I may have to change it to this pretty gourmet side.

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  7. I've been a huge fan of cauliflower puree for years, and have made it countless times, much to my beloved's despair. He likes it, but hates the smell of the cauliflower as it cooks. I don't mind it too much, and to me mashed cauliflower beats mashed potato in any contest! I always feel too "stuffed" when I have the regular kind

    wonderful photos, loved this post!

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  8. Mmmm I prefer this to mashed potato or anything like that :)
    This is gorgeous!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  9. I have never had pureed cauliflowers. It looks as smooth and creamy as potatoes. Love the mushroom topping.

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  10. i am a mash potato addict and the the smell of cauliflower boiling in my house is pretty frequent. I feel these 2 ingredients make a great pairing. Usually I dont mash it, but since I am having one in the house right now, I might make your recipe in the evening, if I dont get distracted by some work.

    Thanks for sharing. I ll hop over the check out charles's creation again. ;)

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  11. Thanks for the mention Kelly - and I love the look of this. I keep saying it, but the first time I tried mashed cauliflower I was *staggered* by how different it was. I know some people aren't fans of cauli, so I would really urge them to try this because it is so different, and also light, but so satisfying at the same time.

    The mushrooms on the top look amazing - great idea with the paprika, I can imagine the beautiful flavour it's giving, and all rounded off with the parmesan? Yum!

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  12. Nice one Kelly! Can't wait to try this... A great photo too!
    Lynn

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  13. Hmmm ... quite the gourmet person, your husband ... I have one of those too :)
    I saw the mashed cauliflower at Charles' the other day and had wanted to make it but was holding back wondering how receptive this would be with my family. You know what? I'm just gonna make it and not say a word and we shall see what they think :)
    I know I'd love this combination ... the sultry flavors of the mushrooms and the smokey paprika ....

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  14. What an elegant dish, Kelly! I have no words to describe how subtle and sophisticated it looks. You should have made a quiz: no one would guess it is cauliflower (maybe apart from Charles ;-) ). First CHarles, now you... I will buy a cauliflower today! I like it a lot, I can virtually eat a whole one just blanched in water, but I have never puréed it. Thank you for this very appetising and light recipe.

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  15. Oooh, this looks amazing! I can't recall if I have had cauliflower puree before....I have had a celery root puree before in a raw foods class and it was amazing, and for the same idea of replacing mashed potatoes. I always love cauliflower, I'm sure I would love this!

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  16. So beautiful Kelly. It's like a piece of art work. I absolutely adore cauliflower and I have been eating it roasted these days. This is going to be a fun step away from the usual. Oh and did I mention I'm on a HUGE mushroom kick lately and that my favorite spice is smoked paprika. It's like you wrote this for me!

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  17. Nate is adamant about the fact that he DETESTS cauliflower...and I've been dying to prove him wrong by sneaking it into something and not telling him. I think this is the dish! I'll let you know how it goes ;)

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  18. Yep, I would be one of those kids (I mean adults) that doesn't like cauliflower. That said, I bet I would enjoy it pureed and topped with paprika and mushrooms. For me I think it's a texture and flavor issue - so this would solve the texture issue for sure. The mushrooms and paprika would also provide some strong flavors that I enjoy. You got me to try peas again Kelly...you just might get me to try cauliflower again now too. :)

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  19. You are talking my language with this one! I'm not a big fan of cauliflower but I do love it pureed and with shiitake and smoked paprika - I bet this is heavenly!!! It sure looks heavenly!

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  20. I'm loving that you made this the feature of the meal with the shiitake spike. Unfortunately my husband hates cauliflower (but loves broccoli but that's a different story). Usually though I'll do mashed cauliflower mixed with mashed potatoes and he'll deign to eat that :P I think it may be time for me to stop hiding the cauliflower and serve it this way.

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  21. I have made mock potato soup with cauliflower and I dare anyone to tell the difference. Your dish looks delicious.

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Thank you for your feedback - it's wonderful to hear from you!