If you’ve done the South Beach Diet or otherwise gone low carb for a while, you’re probably familiar with the “Surprise” Mashed Potatoes that are really pureed cauliflower. We make this dish frequently, and we’ve had our share of hits and misses. Here are a few tips for making them more like the real thing.
Steam, don’t boil. Since cauliflower have many tiny crevices, they tend to act like a sponge when they’re immersed in water. And too much water will make your faux-tatoes runny. Steaming them avoids this problem.
Don’t add milk or cream. You want to keep them as thick as possible; adding any liquid whatsoever will undermine that goal.
Do add some dairy fat. Sorry, South Beach, this is where we part ways! I think that some butter and/or cream cheese is necessary to give this concoction that creamy feel in the mouth that real mashed potatoes have.
Use a stick blender. This isn’t so much for taste as for efficiency. Forget pouring everything out of the pot into a food processor or traditional blender, and then having to wash all the parts. Use a stick blender. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend it! It’s one of those things I wonder how I lived without.
And one secret weapon. Roasted garlic adds an element of earthiness that above-ground plants lack. It also adds a color depth and textural element that mimics potatoes with a little bit of skin included in the mashing. We’re lucky enough to have a nearby grocery that offers roasted garlic among the deli offerings, but if you’re not so lucky, you could always make your own.
Here are the proportions I used for the depicted bowl of “not mashed potatoes.” (With apologies to Monsieur Magritte.)
Roasted Garlic “Mashed Potatoes”
1 head of cauliflower
3 – 6 T. butter,
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. roasted garlic
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the cauliflower head into florets, and the narrower parts of the stem into about 1/8″ slices. Steam it all until very soft; you should be able to cut through a floret with a blunt mixing spoon.
Pour off the water you used for steaming. Make sure the pan is completely dry. Return the pan to the burner over medium-low, and add the butter and/or cream cheese. Stir until it’s mostly melted.
Add the cauliflower and the garlic to the pan, and using a stick blender, puree until the texture is to your liking.
Taste, and add salt, pepper, and/or more butter or cheese to taste. Serve immediately.