It’s been a week since we got back from Spring Break and somehow I feel like we are still recovering. I finally sat down and did some menu planning this morning and perhaps that’s what I needed to finally feel like we are back on track.
There are few recipes that I develop and immediately plan to make again. There are also very few recipes that I start immediately dreaming about all the things that I’m going to serve it with. This morning I created one of those rare recipes that will become a family favorite and staple. So glad that this will go live tomorrow. Can’t wait to make this into a topping for shepherd’s pie. Also dreaming about braised short ribs with this.
Face it. There are many things that make a great recipe, but they all come down to either ingredients or technique. Ingredients are easy: keep them simple, use good stuff, and don’t buy anything with a giant list of ingredients or things you can’t pronounce. Technique is different. It comes down to knowing about cooking times, which cooking method to use, and when to use which kitchen gadget. It can also mean knowing how to add flavor, what ingredients can impact or achieve a specific texture, and how things will react when they freeze. The technique part of tweaking recipes is sometimes a challenge. It’s also the part of recipe creation that I enjoy the most. It involves research recipes, reading reviews, thinking about other ways to achieve the same thing using different ingredients. I credit Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen for helping me to learn to think about cooking this way. It probably didn’t hurt that both of my parents are chemists…
Enter the mashed cauliflower challenge. Most dairy-free recipes for mashed cauliflower risk being grainy, watery, or both. And neither of those two adjectives sounds like a good mashed cauliflower recipe to me. So that was the challenge. Most recipes solve these problems by calling on a combination of ingredients (think cream cheese, butter, heavy cream) or technique (such as using a food processor instead of a manual potato masher). While these are all great, I wanted to maximize flavor while keeping the list of ingredients as short as possible. I also wanted to make this dairy free since that is the main challenge. It’s not that hard to make creamy something if you add cream cheese, for example. Where’s the challenge in that?
I use chicken broth to cook the cauliflower, then discard it because I don’t want the extra moisture. If you want to use vegetable broth, go right ahead. The garlic cooks in the liquid, again adding flavor. Many of the little garlic bits will stick to the cauliflower, so don’t despair. I then boost the flavor with salt, pepper, and even more garlic. I wanted to make sure that the texture wouldn’t get soupy or grainy over time, which is why I decided to add just a few tablespoons of potato flakes at the end. I did taste it before and after that addition, and it really makes a world of difference. The dried potato flakes also soak up some more liquid, so they contribute to both texture and flavor.
I portioned this out into two containers, one for tonight to serve with rotisserie chicken, and the other to make a topping for a shepherd’s pie that I’m making in a few days. I lined a disposable baking tray (Dollar Tree is great for these) with plastic wrap, then spooned in the mashed cauliflower, then wrapped it tight to prevent freezer burn. I placed the whole thing in the freezer. In doing so, I am also testing this for potential mass batches to freeze…
Dairy-free Creamy Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
- Two 1-lb bags frozen cauliflower. I use the 365 organic bags from Whole Foods.
- 2 cups organic chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons really good olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons Wildtree garlic galore seasoning, or use garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons instant potato flakes. I like the instant mashed potatoes from Whole Foods.
Grab a large pot, colander, large mixing bowl, and your big food processor. Put the cauliflower, chicken broth, and chopped garlic into the large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20-25 minutes until cooked through. I use a paring knife to test whether it’s cooked. The knife should easily slide into the cauliflower. Once cooked, put the colander in the mixing bowl and dump the cauliflower in to drain. Leave for 15 minutes to make sure that as much liquid as possible leaves the mixture.
Add the cauliflower to the food processor and pulse a few times. Add the olive oil and the other seasonings, and turn on the food processor. Stop it every 10 seconds or so, and use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue until the mixture is creamy. Add the potato flakes and mix using the food processor until just combined.
Note: this is Ideal Protein Phase 1 friendly and Paleo if you skip the potato flakes.