Something shameful you should know: until I went to college I had never eaten a hamburger, or a strawberry, or tomato sauce. And sadly, it took even longer for me to try asparagus, plums, lamb, holiday stuffing, and scallops. If you’re wondering what I ate for the first 17 years of my life, it was mostly chicken nuggets, Fritos, cookies, and wheat bread buttered with margarine. And I went through a pretty gross german-bologna period between third and fifth grade.
Recently, in an effort to remove the bulk of simple carbs from my diet, I’ve been moved to experiment with cauliflower AND IT”S AWESOME!
Maybe you’re thinking that cauliflower is broccoli’s boring cousin and, if you eat it steamed or boiled, I would agree. However, if you steam it and then mash it with butter (delicious golden grassfed, like Kerrygold, which you can find in the supermarket) and some salt, pepper, and seasoning it is super delicious and so good for you!
Seasoning tangent: seasoning blends are a strangely personal item–my mother’s family uses Bell’s Seasoning as the secret ingredient in their Irish(-American) Potato Stuffing, and it is the single most important item in my pantry. You can buy it in almost any supermarket in New England in the spice section and, surprisingly, I even found some at Central Market while I was living in Austin, TX. Because we are moving to Florida soon, I’ve started collecting a small hoard. Additionally, I have an irrational fear that when I move away they will stop producing this product. Why? Not sure, feel free to speculate and pass judgements, but please buy some and love it and keep Bell’s in business. I need it for both my stuffing and my mashed cauliflower.
At any rate, I’ve found that there’s a sort of regional, familial, cultural, sometimes maternal (or paternal, I went to college for Gender Studies so…I’m open to whatever) connection to spices. A colleague in Texas used to talk about Everglades Seasoning and has it shipped to Austin from Florida, my best friend recently shared her newfound love for Herbamare with me (she’s on a weight-loss journey and MTV is filming it!), and I’ve known some people to have intense feelings for Mrs. Dash (which I don’t really understand). I think when you develop an affection for a particular ingredient (which sounds ridiculous but it isn’t) you’ve really come into your own as a cook and started to cultivate your own style.
Faux Mashed Potatoes/Badass Mashed Cauliflower
1 Head of Cauliflower
1-2 Tbs. Butter
The Kitchen Science
1) Rinse your cauliflower and chop it into medium-sized pieces, discarding the leaves and big chunks of stem.
2) Place a steamer basket in a saucepan large enough to hold all that delicious cauliflower. Put some water in the bottom of the pot, not so much that the water seeps into the basket.Toss in the cauliflower and put on the lid. Steam for about 10 minutes (I usually just leave it on the stove while I’m busy making the rest of my meal, so long as the water doesn’t all boil out you can’t really overcook this).
3) Remove the cauliflower and drain the water from the pot. Return the cauliflower to the pot and add the butter, starting with a little and tasting as you go, and a teaspoon of salt, pepper, and Bell’s. Mash it with a potato masher, use your immersion blending stick, or skip the pot and use a food processor to combine. Cauliflower has almost no taste whatsoever so if you like your food buttery/salty/peppery/delicious, taste it after it’s mashed and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Try adding garlic, topping with bacon bits, or whatever you would normally do to potatoes.
4) Serve hot or freeze/fridge in an airtight container for later. This will reheat surprisingly well so save your leftovers!
This dish is so easy to make, why would you bother washing and peeling and cutting up potatoes? Always keep in mind that with simple dishes the ingredients matter–fresh veg, quality butter, some sea-salt or fresh-ground black pepper will really make it delicious. (If you’re in a pinch, I bet you could make this with frozen cauliflower.)