It’s funny how produce has moments, like my old mom jeans that are suddenly okay to wear again. Brussel sprouts had their time to shine a few years ago, almost always guaranteed to be blackened and paired with bacon. It feels like we’re in a never-ending era of avocado, as it continues on an insatiable quest for Bezos-esque world domination. But the cauliflower marketing team is really on fire right now. It’s everywhere I look. Want a pizza? Here’s mushed together cauliflower. In the mood for rice? How about some chopped cauliflower. Need a compostable paper weight? Try this heirloom purple cauliflower.
Don’t get me wrong, I like cauliflower as much as the masses. What’s not to like? Cauliflower is packed with fiber, boasts high levels of vitamins C, K, and choline, and is a fantastic source of antioxidants. As an added bonus, it’s relatively inexpensive and super easy to find. So, I’m definitely not complaining. But there is one form of cauliflower that isn’t getting enough love, and it might be my favorite.
Ahem, drumroll please...the purée!
Here’s how to make a creamy, goes-with-anything, fart-free cauliflower purée that’ll have you saying, “Mashed potatoes, who?!”
First, cook it low and slow until totally tender.
Remove the cauliflower leaves and trim off the dried end of the stem. Cut up the cauliflower florets and stem into 1-inch pieces and place in a pot. Add enough milk (any kind will work) to almost cover the pieces, season with salt and white pepper, (or black pepper if you don’t mind speckles) and gently simmer, stirring occasionally. You want the cauliflower chunks to become totally soft and the milk to slightly reduce. Beware: boiling the cauliflower at too high a heat for too long will make your place stink of cauliflower farts.
Next, choose your cauliflower adventure:
Want to go chunky?
Mash the cauliflower into a coarse purée with a potato masher and add a big scoop of something creamy, like sour cream, strained yogurt, or cream cheese. It’s coarse, but still luscious and creamy, like the mashed potatoes at Claim Jumpers. Try it with a dollop of labne (an extra thick, double strained yogurt) and finish it with some za’atar to serve alongside any meat with a big personality. I love it with grilled lamb chops, crispy duck breast, or a dry-aged steak.
Want it smooth and silky?
Transfer the cauliflower and milk into a blender and purée with a knob of butter until totally smooth. This version tastes rich and decadent, rivaling even the best potato puree. It’s great alongside glazed and broiled fish, crispy-skinned filets, seared scallops, or delicate poached halibut.
Make the purée as decadent or light as you like. Cauliflower purée doesn’t need a lot of fat or dairy to satisfy the way starchy potatoes do. I once puréed the cauliflower with water, garlic, anchovy, and some olive oil to serve alongside roasted chicken thighs, and its awesomeness actually made me forget all about that crispy brown chicken thigh.
Got leftover puree? Make soup!
The leftover puree is an almost instant soup. Just add water (or broth, coconut milk, or buttermilk)! Taste it and season it again to bump up the flavor. You can even get crazy and fry up some cauliflower florets in olive oil to garnish each bowl.
With all this versatility, I don’t see cauliflower going away anytime soon, which is good news. But I don’t think I’d mind losing those cauliflower pizzas.
See ya next time!