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.
Boil or steam the cauliflower and potatoes. You can do it in the same pot.
If you want, you can hold back about a third of the cauliflower and roast it instead of boiling. Spread the florets on a foil-lined baking sheet, spray liberally with spray oil, season with salt and pepper. If you want to get really fancy schmancy, throw in some sliced garlic cloves. Roast at 350° for as long as it takes for the boiled veggies to cook. SoupAddict’s experience is that the roasted cauliflower won’t go through the ricer, but that’s okay. She just mashes it up with a fork instead.
Send the potatoes and cauliflower through a ricer or food mill, or roll up your sleeves and mash them by hand.
Action photo goodness!
A potato ricer is so named because it produces potato bits that look like rice. See how thmart SoupAddict is? She drew this conclusion all by herself.
SoupAddict was being way ridiculous in measuring out the liquids. See the full cup of milk and buttermilk? She used maybe a quarter cup, total, plus a couple tablespoons of butter.
Stir stir stir. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
Even your staunchest cauliflower-hatin’ carnivore will eat this.
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
3 tablespoons butter, melted
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.