This cauliflower purée recipe is made with Parmigiano cheese, yogurt, pepper, olive oil, and garlic. A quick side dish.
Let’s be clear about one thing, shall we? Chances are that a recipe titled “cauliflower puree” and that has cauliflower as a primary ingredient is going to taste quite a lot like cauliflower. This may or may not be a good thing according to you, but just because you use it in place of mashed potatoes doesn’t meant that it’s going to taste like mashed potatoes. In fact, we can assure you, it doesn’t. It does, however, have a uniquely and really quite charming caulifloweriness all its own that we quite like. Just wanted to be clear about that. If it looks like cauliflower and acts like cauliflower, chances are it’s going to taste like cauliflower. And that’s not a bad thing.–Matt Moore
☞ Table of Contents
- 1 cup water
- Two (1-pound) packages frozen cauliflower florets or 32 ounces (900 g) fresh cauliflower broken into florets
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. While the water is heating, arrange the cauliflower in a steamer basket and carefully situate it in the pan of water. Cover and steam until the cauliflower is tender when pierced with a sharp knife, anywhere from 10 minutes to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the florets and whether they're fresh or thawed or frozen.
- Drain the cauliflower, reserving the cooking liquid. Return the cauliflower to the dry pan, return it to the burner, and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until any excess water evaporates, about 1 minute.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Add the oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, if using, yogurt, and Parmigiano-Reggiano and purée the cauliflower mixture with a handheld immersion blender or transfer the mixture to a food processor and process until light and smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes. If you prefer a thinner consistency to your cauliflower purée, add a little of the reserved cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, and stir until the puree reaches the desired consistency. Serve immediately.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I’m a huge fan of cauliflower puree. I make it a lot both for myself and for my personal chef clients. Everyone loves it, but I’m always tempted to add a potato and some heavy cream and/or butter to achieve a certain flavor and texture. That said, I adored this guiltless version of a cauliflower puree—simply cauliflower, olive oil, garlic powder, Greek yogurt, and a touch of Parmesan.
I loved the addition of the garlic powder, I thought it gave just the right amount of garlicky flavor to the dish. As for the Greek yogurt, I used a non-fat variety.
To blend the dish, I used my food processor, which worked very well and produced a silky smooth texture. I also loved the yogurt in this recipe, which added a really nice velvety quality to the dish.
We have mashed all sorts of vegetables, and I would put this cauliflower puree at the top of the list. This rustic mash can easily do duty anywhere that you might use mashed potatoes—the kind with a bit of texture and a fresh flavor that isn’t overwhelmed by too much butter, cream, or smoothness.
Actually, I made 3 versions of this recipe—one that was the original (garlic included), one with fresh cauliflower and gorgonzola, and a third using green cauliflower and a food processor. With the original, we felt like it was every bit as satisfying as mashed potatoes would have been, and it did not suffer from being over-pureed or watery. This definitely has a place in the weeknight rotation.
The fresh cauliflower version with no garlic was next. I was curious as to whether you would need to cook fresh cauliflower longer (obviously the prep is a few minutes extra work, but you can do that while the water comes to the boil). I cooked it about 11 minutes and drained my yogurt this time. I used a nice gorgonzola in place of the Parmesan and topped this with a mushroom ragout. We liked this version even better.
For the green cauliflower, well, why not have some fun? This time I transferred the cooked cauliflower to the food processor after 13 minutes (this took longer to cook, which could be due to age or variety, but fork-tender should be your cue), added the yogurt, and went back to using Parmesan this time. I think that although it was fast, the texture was more of a grainy sameness rather than a mash with different textures. It was still delicious, but a bit closer to a green cauliflower couscous rather than a mash. I think you could use a nice melty grated Cheddar or Gruyère or goat cheese—it doesn’t take very much cheese. Whether you use Greek yogurt or regular plain yogurt, you can adjust the puree to have the desired consistency with the cooking liquid. All around this is a winner and does not feel like a substitution.
This quick weeknight dish could be part of a healthful fall or winter meal, or you could really dress it up for a dinner party. Under some pan braised sausage or slow-cooked meat or roasted vegetables, this could stand in for mashed potatoes or maybe even polenta. Ideally, I would pair this with grilled or seared halibut or salmon, braised meats or vegetables, or a mixed mushroom ragout.
This cauliflower puree is a very speedy and really delicious substitute for mashed potatoes. We almost never make mashed potatoes at home, but this is something that I can see going into the regular rotation. The result was really creamy and had a lot of flavor.
Using frozen cauliflower made the prep extremely quick and, apart from steaming the cauliflower, it took about 5 minutes to put this together. I used non-fat Skyr plain yogurt and added the optional garlic powder.
This amount would easily serve 6 as a side, but it reheated really nicely a couple of days later, so if you’re cooking for fewer people you can still make the recipe as is to eat over several meals.
The only issue I had was that it took almost an hour of steaming for my cauliflower to not be frozen solid. I was surprised by how long it took. Next time I’m just going to put the cauliflower in boiling water. If I had a microwave, I think I’d try that to speed things up.
If you’re a cauliflower lover, give this cauliflower puree a try. Using frozen cauliflower saves a lot of time, although personally, I still prefer to buy fresh cauliflower and roast it.
It’s important that the cooked cauliflower be dry enough, as it makes the texture much better. By seasoning it with salt and pepper and adding creamy low-fat yogurt, there’s plenty of flavor. And the Parmesan is a must.
I normally make cauliflower puree with my Cuisinart and let it run for awhile versus using a stick blender. I made this with the stick blender, but I felt the results were about the same and the process a little easier with the food processor.
This cauliflower puree recipe was a breeze to make, taking about 25 minutes from start to finish. For those watching carbs, this recipe needs to be added to your repertoire. The Parmesan and garlic add a nice flavor boost. A keeper!
We absolutely LOVE this recipe. It is simple, DELICIOUS, and quite versatile. I have made this several times in the last couple of weeks and will certainly enjoy this WELL into the future. Just thinking about it gets my mind racing. The FABULOUS things that I have planned for this basic healthy side dish. A sprinkle of Moroccan spices, fresh herbs from my garden, and not to mention, using as a substitute on my shepherd’s pie!
The BEST thing about this recipe is the door is left open to us to simply enjoy it as written or toss in some butter (or not, depending on dietary desires. This is a quick, simple side dish that everyone can enjoy, even our most health-conscious guests.
This cauliflower puree is healthier than its potato counterpart and easier to pull together.
I cheated and bought 2 bags of frozen cauliflower and zapped them in the microwave according to the package directions. I then dried the florets on a roasting pan at 350°F oven for 2 minutes, but the next time I will probably skip this step as the added moisture would work fine in lieu of adding the cooking liquid from the steamed cauliflower.
I strongly suggest using good quality, freshly grated Parmesan as this recipe has few ingredients so what you use really stands out. The resulting puree was delicious served with Turkey Meatloaf for a meal that screamed “comfort food” and completely belied its healthfulness.
Originally published August 15, 2018