Cauliflower Purée

This cauliflower purée recipe is made with Parmigiano cheese, yogurt, pepper, olive oil, and garlic. A quick side dish.

A blue bowl of cauliflower purée on a wooden table

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. Originally published September 14, 2015.Matt Moore

Cauliflower Puree

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 6 M
  • 15 M
  • Serves 6
5/5 - 1 reviews
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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.

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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.


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  1. This cauliflower puree is healthier than its potato counterpart and easier to pull together. I 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 in a 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 this website’s Turkey Meatloaf for a meal that screamed “comfort food” and completely belied its healthfulness.

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