Cheesy Cauliflower Puree


I have been making this delicious cauliflower dish ever since I first heard about it years ago when the South Beach diet was all the rage. Although I never went on the diet myself, everyone I knew who did was telling me how delicious pureed cauliflower was as a replacement for potatoes. I was finally convinced to try it myself, and have made it many, many times since although my version of this recipe has evolved over time. Recently I have also given up starchy carbs and started using this dish as a replacement for potatoes or polenta, and both my husband and myself have decided that the pureed cauliflower as I make it is even tastier than mashed potatoes and I think this is a dish the whole family will love.

I make this cauliflower dish to serve as a bed for stews, braised meats, or to simply serve as a side dish. If I am using it in place of polenta or mashed potatoes I do not bake it with the cheese on top which gives the dish a nice light crust. You can play around with this basic recipe by adding some chopped herbs (I like chopped chives), some finally diced sauteed onion, or even crispy bacon bits. Although I do add a little olive oil when I puree it which I think helps bind everything together, you can eliminate the oil and reduce the amount of cheese used, creating a lower fat version. When choosing cauliflower, pick firm, white unblemished heads and avoid those with very wilted leaves or signs of dryness.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2011

Cheesy Cauliflower Puree

A great side dish or mashed potato replacement.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large Head Of Cauliflower
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 3/4 Cup Grated Pecorino (Or Parmesan) Cheese (1/4 Cup Set Aside)

Directions:

  1. Prepare the cauliflower by removing the core and leaves, and cutting the head into 1 to 2 inch pieces.
  2. Place the chicken broth and cauliflower in a pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Cook the cauliflower until very tender and then drain well, discarding the chicken broth.
  4. Place the cooked cauliflower in a blender or food processor with the olive oil, 1/2 cup of cheese, salt and pepper, and blend until smooth. (If you prefer, you can leave the cauliflower a little chunky for texture, but I like to blend it until it is smooth as mashed potatoes. If using it as a bed for stews or braised meats it is ready to use.)
  5. To use as a side dish, spoon the puree into an oven-proof dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  6. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F. oven for about 20 minutes.
  7. Serve hot.