With a few recipe adjustments, you can you boil cauliflower and mash it like potatoes, but the texture will be somewhat different. Like mashed potatoes, cauliflower can be mashed until it is pureed or smashed only slightly, with chunky bits of vegetable remaining. For extra flair and color, choose green or purple cauliflower or add a carrot when you cook white cauliflower for a soft, orange shade.
Boiling With a Twist
Unlike boiled potatoes that take up to 45 minutes to cook, depending on whether you cut them up, cauliflower pieces take about 7 minutes to cook once you drop them into a large pot of fully boiling, salted water. Dry the pieces in a 325-degree Fahrenheit oven, spreading them out on a cookie sheet, for another 5 minutes so that your mashed cauliflower dish isn't watery.
Creamy Pureed or Chunky Mash
The cauliflower is mashed in the same way you would break up potatoes, with warmed milk, cream or chicken or vegetable stock. Use a potato masher for a chunky mash, or smoothly puree the cauliflower using a countertop blender or a handheld, immersion blender. The consistency and texture of cauliflower differ from those of potatoes, because potatoes contain more starch than cauliflower, about 14 grams for each 1/2 cup of raw potatoes versus about 2 1/2 grams for the same amount of cauliflower, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Steamed or roasted cauliflower gives you softness for mashing but with more prominent nutty and sweet flavors than you get from boiling. For the best of all worlds, steam cauliflower pieces rubbed with oil, salt and pepper on a cookie sheet tented tightly with foil for about 10 minutes in a 475-degree Fahrenheit oven. Remove the foil and roast the pieces on both sides until they begin to brown and caramelize, about 8 minutes per side. Then mash as normal.
Getting the Best Flavor
While potatoes can stay in good shape for a few weeks if you store them in a dark, cool spot, but not in the refrigerator, cauliflower lasts only a few days in the vegetable drawer of your fridge before it begins to loss its freshness and sweet flavor. The head shouldn't have an off-putting aroma or brown spots. Keep cauliflower wrapped tightly in the refrigerator and cook it within three to five days of buying it.
- The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion; Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
- Food & Wine: Hot, Buttered Cauliflower Puree
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Basic Report: 11353, Potatoes, Russet, Flesh and Skin, Raw
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Basic Report: 11135, Cauliflower, Raw
- The Science of Good Cooking; Editors at America's Test Kitchen and Guy Crosby
- Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images