Mashed Potatoes: They Don’t Have to Kill You to Be Good
SoupAddict was staring longingly at her Zuni Cafe buttermilk mashed potatoes recipe the other day. Autumn is here, and it’s time for comfort food, but even food-hedonist, denial-ain’t-just-a-river-in-Egypt-it’s-a-way-of-life SoupAddict knows you shouldn’t eat this every day. If the carbs don’t get you, the buttermilk will. Or the cream. Or the butter. Or the salt.
SoupAddict sighed heavily and mindlessly scooted the fall vegetables from her CSA bag around on the counter, pondering what to fix for dinner instead of those luscious mashed potatoes. And then she had a sudden stroke of brilliance:
“Cut the mashed potatoes with cauliflower! Brilliant!” she cried. “Brrrillliant!” [arms shooting into the air in a "V," looking around for positive reinforcement.]
SoupAddict’s little kitty Fido growled deep in his throat, and then put his right paw back over his eyes, which is his preferred way to nap. (SoupAddict is certain that this gesture had nothing to do with expressing how he felt about the idea.)
Now, SoupAddict knows there really is nothing new under the sun, so she is certain that if you googled “mashed potatoes with cauliflower,” you would learn that she is the 127,549th person to experience this stroke of brilliance. However, SoupAddict is not going to be googling anything, she can tell you that, because she wants to bask in the warm glow of a good idea for as long as she can.
Here’s why this is such a brilliant idea (SoupAddict’s or not): aside from the carbs in white potatoes, what makes mashed potatoes unhealthy is the sheer amount of fats and dairy you have to add to get them smooth and creamy, as the starches in the potatoes suck the liquids right up and you have to add more and more and pretty soon your butter bin is empty and your cream carton is decidedly lighter and the carb cravings kick in and you find the sudden urge to stick your entire face right down in the bowl….
Not that that ever happens to SoupAddict. No, sir. And not that she’s ever actually done that. Noooooo [shakes head sincerely].
Cauliflower doesn’t have that problem (technically known as starchy sucker upage): yummy smashed cauliflower does not need an abundance of additives to be creamy and delicious. (Have you ever had straight-up mashed cauliflower with a little butter, salt and pepper? No? You should try it.) For each bit of potato that you remove from the dish (replacing it with cauliflower), you’re also reducing the need for buttermilk, cream and butter.
Even though a potato has what could be termed a mild flavor, it easily overwhelms the cauliflower without being diluted by it. Meanwhile, the cauliflower imparts a slightly nutty flavor to the mix. And SoupAddict is all about the nutty. But that probably doesn’t surprise you.
Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower
|4-5||medium||potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes (Yukon golds are especially nice)|
|1||head||cauliflower, trimmed into small florets|
|1/4||cup||buttermilk, room temperature|
|1/4||cup||Heavy cream, half and half, or milk, scalded|
|salt and pepper, to taste|
Bring a large pot of water to boil, and add the cauliflower and potatoes. Cook until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a knife. Drain well, using a colander.
In a large bowl, process the potatoes and cauliflower through a ricer or food mill, or mash by hand until very smooth.
Add half each of the buttermilk, cream and butter. Stir well to combine, taste. Add the remaining buttermilk and/or cream and/or butter according to your personal preferences (you might not need all of the liquids). Add salt and pepper. Serve while still hot.