Mashed potatoes are one side dish that I have always loved. And recently I’ve discovered a healthier way to enjoy the same flavor of the dish but in half the time. Since my very first attempt at mashed cauliflower, I haven’t gone back.
You could say that I used to have something of a mashed potato reputation. Back in the day, my aunts would check to see if my sister and I would be attending the family gatherings. If so, they would cook double the amount of potatoes, because, well, that’s all we’d eat. My love for the food didn’t suddenly go away or disappear, I just enjoy it a little differently these days. The texture and taste for mashed cauliflower turns out the same as mashed potatoes – little picky eaters probably won’t even notice the difference.
Let me quickly define cauliflower versus potatoes on the nutritional scale, and explain why this version is healthier for you. Cauliflower contains fewer calories and fewer carbs, and has a low glycemic index. This means that cauliflower helps to slowly release sugar into the bloodstream, which has a steadying effect on your blood sugar levels.
Potatoes, on the other hand, have a very high glycemic index. They spike your blood sugar really fast, resulting in a dip later on. Low blood sugar can have negative effects on your energy levels and make you feel hungry all over again (anyone familiar with the term ‘hangry’ knows what I’m talking about). Steady blood sugar levels are the way to go, avoiding that rollercoaster.
Another way that this recipe is a little bit healthier than classic mashed potatoes is through the use of chicken broth instead of milk. Chicken broth adds more flavor and helps to eliminate the extra dairy. (Chicken broth could even make the recipe Paleo, but don’t let that fact turn you away. I used to write for a Paleo blog and couldn’t help mentioning it.)
A few notes about the recipe. If you are going to include the roasted garlic (great idea) get that garlic bulb roasting in the oven first, and then move on to the cauliflower. For the cauliflower, try to chop the florets into roughly the same size so that they cook evenly, and steam them until completely soft.
I like to steam vegetables more often than boiling them; they don’t overcook as easily and taste less watery. I don’t believe that I even laid eyes on a steamer insert before I moved to DC, but now I use mine often. (They’re only about $8). If you don’t have one, I would recommend the boiling method. One of my favorite things about this recipe is that cauliflower does not take as long as potatoes to cook.
Roasted garlic and fresh rosemary: these are the ideal additions to this recipe. If you decide not to use fresh garlic, stir in some garlic powder. To cut up fresh rosemary, I learned a neat little trick from my cooking bible, The Kitchn. Place the herbs (any herbs, really) in a small cup and cut them with kitchen scissors. So quick and easy.
Once everything is ready to mash, I love to use an immersion blender to mix it right in the pot. I use this tool quite, quite often. I am not sure how well the cauliflower would break down under a regular potato masher because I have not tried…so let me know if you try it out. Otherwise a food processor or blender would make quick work of it. You can always add more chicken broth as well, but don’t start with too much or you’ll end up with cauliflower soup.
After the cauliflower is mashed, stir in salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.I cannot emphasize enough how much better freshly cracked pepper tastes compared to that other stuff. Freshly cracked. Do it. All that is left then is to serve up that big bowl of delicious comfort food.
- 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- ¾ cup chicken broth
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 head of garlic
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb, then cut off the very top of the head of garlic to expose the individual garlic cloves. Place in aluminum foil and drizzle with a little olive oil, then seal the foil around the garlic. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cloves are soft. Allow the garlic to cool, then squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of the skin.
- Meanwhile, place a couple inches of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, place a steamer insert and then cauliflower florets into the pot and cover. Steam for 8-12 minutes, until completely tender. Drain and set the cauliflower aside.
- Place the chicken broth, butter, rosemary, and roasted garlic into the pot and bring to a light boil. Simmer for 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Remove from heat.
- Add the cauliflower into the pot. Use an immersion blender or food processor to combine ingredients until smooth. Add salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Serve warm.