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.
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
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.
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.