Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes” are a low carb, Paleo friendly substitute to traditional mashed potatoes.
Like many people, I’m making a conscious effort this month to eat healthfully to try to undo some of the (fun, delicious and very festive) damage done over the holiday season. My husband Justin proposed that we do a 30 day Paleo challenge. I’ve always been reluctant to try a restrictive diet plan because my favorite foods fall within the 4 Cs: cheese, carbs, cookies and champagne. However, after partaking in those foods a little too readily over the past few months, I decided I was up for the Paleo challenge. Especially if Justin and I would be suffering through our cravings together.
Reader, you know where this is going. Hubby made it all the way to day 4 until he texted me a picture of the candy bar he picked up on his way home from work (he’s asked me to clarify that it was a Nutrageous- apparently that explains everything.) He also had not one, not two, but THREE pieces of cake at his dad’s birthday dinner last week and has been helping himself to dessert after every meal. Has anyone ever heard of breakfast dessert?
So. I’m kind of on my own now on this whole Paleo challenge. Surprisingly it hasn’t been so bad. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that I was sick for the first ten plus days without much of an appetite, so I wasn’t able to miss my favorite non-Paleo foods. Since I’ve been feeling better I’ve been surprisingly satisfied and have not had any killer cravings. Needless to say, I have no intention of eating a solely Paleo style diet long term (I need my 4 Cs!), but the challenge is a good opportunity to evaluate my eating habits and to focus on making lean proteins, fruits and vegetables the building blocks of my diet.
This challenge has also been an opportunity to step outside my comfort zone in terms of meal planning and daily cooking. Normally I will make mashed potatoes once a week as a quick and tasty side. My very favorite mashed potatoes, while heavenly, are chock full of Paleo verboten ingredients such as cream, cream cheese and butter. We’ve all seen the faux cauliflower mashed potatoes all over Pinterest and I’ve always been a skeptic. Cauliflower has always struck me as bland and…blah. Can a whir in the food processor really turn ho hum cauliflower into something that can really satisfy a comfort food craving? Over the past couple of weeks I’ve discovered that, YES, it certainly can. I can truly say that I do not miss the potatoes or decadent dairy when preparing cauliflower with this recipe. They are light and airy, creamy and flavorful. I’m a believer.
There are a few tips to ensure your cauliflower mash turns out perfectly. First, make sure that you boil the cauliflower until thoroughly tender. No al dente veggies here. Next, you want to drain it well to ensure excess moisture does not stick around. Once it’s been drained, I toss the cauliflower back into the pot in which it boiled so excess moisture can evaporate in the heat of the pot. You also want to puree the cauliflower in the food processor until completely smooth. You don’t want to see any little cauli trees in your puree. Finally, and most importantly, you need to add flavor. I add a head of roasted garlic and a couple of tablespoons of rich and fruity extra virgin olive oil. The resulting mashed cauliflower is smooth, delicious and surprisingly creamy.
I’ve served this as a side multiple times already this month. You already know I love it, but what about Mr. Paleo Quitter? These are a home run with him, too.
Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes”
- 1 large head cauliflower, cored and broken into florets
- 1 head garlic
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350. Cut the top off of the head of garlic, so that the tops of all cloves are exposed. Place garlic on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle salt over garlic. Fold foil over garlic to create a sealed pouch. Place foil on baking sheet and cook in oven about an hour, until garlic is soft and lightly browned. When done, remove garlic from foil and set aside until cool enough to handle.
While garlic is roasting, place cauliflower florets into large pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and boil cauliflower until very tender, when a knife slides in and out with no resistance, about 20 minutes. When cauliflower is tender, drain in strainer and shake to remove excess moisture. Place florets back into hot pot and stir, allowing the heat of the pot to evaporate additional moisture.
Transfer cauliflower to the bowl of a food processor fitted with metal blade. Squeeze roasted garlic cloves from head of garlic, taking care not to get any garlic skin into bowl. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil, remaining salt and pepper. Process in food processor until cauliflower and garlic are very smooth, about a minute. Transfer cauliflower to serving bowl and drizzle remaining 1/2 Tbsp olive oil over top.