Let’s get one thing straight: this would never replace mashed potatoes.
It’s not as plush. It’s not as filling. It’s also not as big on calories.
This is NOT going to be a magical replacement for mashed potatoes.
But what it’s going to be is a side dish filled with lots of sweet roasted garlic flavor, the almost heady scent of rosemary, and the tangy creaminess of Greek yogurt. Plus just a little bit of full fat from butter and sour cream. Just a little bit, just enough to make you think that you’re indulging, when really, you’re filling up on a vegetable filled with antixodants, vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting properties.
It just happens to look like mashed potatoes.
I remember the first time I tried mashed cauliflower. I was with my mom, and we both marveled at the concept: the cauliflower, so often ignored, when mashed and dressed up like a potato, transforms from boring into fantastic. It was called smashed cauliflower and it was just steamed cauliflower florets dressed with garlic and parmesan cheese. When I see the words “dressed” and “parmesan cheese” in a dish description, I think it’s the restaurant’s way of making the simple sound fancy, hoping the customer’s interest and taste buds get piqued. It worked, and my mom and I enjoyed the low-carb side. The restaurant was Uno Chicago Grill.
Who says you can’t find gems in restaurant chains? Unfortunately Unos have since taken the smashed cauliflower off their menu. (Side note: if you want to find the best cauliflower dishes in Boston, MA and Austin, TX – check out Tasted Menu, a restaurant and dish review site and mobile app. I am pretty obsessed with it!)
But anyhow, I found a recipe on The Food Network and decided to roast the garlic first before smashing it in with the cauliflower. (Anyone else think of Rachael Ray when you hear the words smashed potatoes?) I love the flavor of roasted garlic, and I know it goes well with cauliflower. It does take extra time, but trust me, it is worth it.
I drizzled the garlic bulb with olive oil and topped with salt, pepper, and rosemary. After roasting in the oven for 40 minutes, each garlic clove becomes a soft, toasty, spreadable morsel.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
1 whole garlic bulb
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium head cauliflower, cored and broken into small pieces (about five cups)
3 tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 sprig rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
Roast the garlic first. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic. Place garlic bulb in the middle of a square aluminium foil sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the garlic head, then sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and a little bit of fresh rosemary. Fold the aluminum foil over the top to make a tent, then bake for 40 minutes. Take garlic head from the oven and open up the foil packet to let it begin to cool.
Now make the cauliflower. Set a stockpot of water to boil over high heat and cook the cauliflower in boiling water for about 6 minutes, or until well done. Drain well, and dry the cooked cauliflower between several layers of paper towels. Return cauliflower to pot, and mash with a fork or a potato masher (if you want a smoother consistency, you can use an immersion blender). Turn the heat on low, and add the remaining ingdredients (I chopped up the remaining rosemary finely before adding to the cauliflower mixture), mixing well for a couple of minutes.
Top with freshly ground black pepper and serve warm.
This recipe generously serves four as a side dish. Or one person for many nights while watching reruns of True Blood. What?
Next time I will play around with different flavors, maybe blue cheese and buffalo sauce, or I’ll even try adding in broccoli and cheddar. I really like the chunky texture and the roasted garlic adds a great dimension of flavor.
Mashed cauliflower will never replace mashed potatoes for me, just like how soy bacon or turkey bacon will never replace real bacon, or how crispy asparagus or green bean fries will never replace real french fries. But that doesn’t mean that these aren’t wonderful in their own ways.
This is just a healthier alternative, and a really good one at that.