I can hardly believe I did not write about mashed cauliflower before now. It is a staple of ours that appeases any craving I ever had for mashed potatoes. The flavor and texture is rich and smooth. It is a really easy dish, but the results can vary as far as thickness and smoothness. Over the years we have experimented with ingredients and processes – chopping finely before cooking, steaming the head whole, steaming then using a hand blender to puree, using a potato smasher to get a rough consistency. All of this experimentation led to a wonderful conclusion – cook the cauliflower in large chunks, then puree after draining the steaming liquid – this method seems to give it just the right texture and thickness. Too thin and you get soup, too thick and the flavors just don’t mix the right way. When it is just right – very Goldilocks is what I call it – the dish is addictive and will do you proud on any holiday dinner table. Don’t get me wrong, the soupy version and the one with flavors not mixing just righ are delicious as well, but we challenge ourselves to get dishes -just- right. The following version is wonderfully thick and flavorful. It definitely has a place of honor on our table. It is a dish that really is better the next day, so take advantage of that fact and make it the day before, only needing a quick heating up before serving.
1 large head cauliflower, cut into large pieces
½ cup water
½ cup butter
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp dried thyme leaves
Salt to taste
In a large pot add water and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil and add cauliflower. Lower temperature and cover, steaming until soft, about 10 minutes. Place cauliflower in food processor or blender, retaining liquid from pot, and puree until smooth. If necessary add a small amount of the steaming liquid to help with the puree process. When smooth, return cauliflower to the pot and add butter, garlic and thyme. Turn heat on under pan to low and cook until butter is melted and spices are blended. The cauliflower can be served immediately, or chilled overnight to maximize the blending of flavors. Reheat over low heat on stove top for best results, but microwaving on 50% power until hot works as well. Serve along with anything calling for a side of mashed potatoes. You won’t regret it!