If living the low-carb life has you missing comfort food like mashed potatoes, creamy cauliflower puree is a delicious alternative. My recipe includes sautéed leeks and garlic for more flavor plus the boost of fresh chopped thyme leaves. Make creamy cauliflower puree ahead of time. It re-heats well for busy weeknight dinners or as a swap for mashed potatoes on your holiday table.
Cauliflower: A Nutritional Star
As a member of the cruciferous vegetable family (broccoli, kale, cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts), cauliflower is one of the worlds healthiest foods. It is an excellent source of vitamins (especially C), minerals, and fiber. Like all vegetables, cauliflower is high in powerful plant compounds called phytonutrients. Cauliflower contains sulphur containing compounds called glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, powerful fighters against inflammation which is at the heart of all chronic diseases, like cancer, brain and heart diseases and diabetes.
I geek out over nutrition information and would love to write more, but you might be glazing over with my nutritional glee, so I’ll cut this short. You can read more about the health benefits of cauliflower here and here.
Cauliflower Versus Potatoes: The Carb Controversy
Lets compare my usual potato choice for mashed potatoes – gold potatoes – to cauliflower. I calculated that a 5 ounce serving of the gold potato would be 26 grams of carbs. Gold potatoes are listed as a medium glycemic food with a rating of 58. A five ounce serving of low-glycemic cauliflower has less than 7 grams of carbs and rates 15 on the glycemic index; a big difference if you’re watching your carbs.
How to Make Creamy Cauliflower Puree
While you can buy bagged florets, I prefer to buy a whole head for freshness and trim it myself. Unsure how to break up a whole head of cauliflower? It’s easy, just watch my quick video here. A three pound head yields approximately two and a half pounds of florets and serves 6-8 people. If the heads are smaller, buy two and don’t be concerned about leftovers. Creamy cauliflower puree re-heats nicely.
Trim the florets into medium size chunks then steam in a 5-6 quart pan fitted with a steamer rack. Steam cauliflower until tender when pierced with the top of a sharp paring knife, 12-15 minutes. Puree soft cauliflower in a food processor with sautéed leeks and garlic, fresh thyme leaves, salt, pepper, butter (or ghee) and a few tablespoons of chicken broth to make it softer and creamier. That’s it.
Make It Ahead and Re-Heat
You can make creamy cauliflower puree up to 3 days ahead, cool and refrigerate tightly covered. Reheat in either the microwave or on the stovetop. Microwave at 70% power for a few minutes covered and vented for steam release, stirring once. For stovetop heating, fill a medium pan with a few inches of water, bring to a boil, turn down to slow and place a stainless steel or glass bowl on top with the puree in it and cover. This is a gentle heating method. Stir occasionally until hot. To serve, drizzle a little extra melted butter or ghee over the top.
Creamy Cauliflower Puree
This creamy cauliflower puree is a satisfying low-carb swap for high-carb mashed potatoes. The leeks, garlic and herbs give it more flavor and texture. Make them up to 3 days ahead for enjoying during the busy week or for your holiday table.
- 1 3-pound head cauliflower or 2 1/2 pounds florets
- 1/2 leek white and pale green part only
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3-4 garlic cloves chopped fine
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee
- 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme leaves or parsley, optional
- 2 tablespoons chicken broth
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper I use white pepper
Trim the head of cauliflower into florets. Cut all the way around the center core with a sharp paring knife. Break florets off by hand. If needed, cut them into smaller florets that will fit in your steamer. Alternatively, see this video link for help.
Add a few inches of water to a large 5-6 quart pot. Place steamer rack inside the pot. Water should come to the bottom of the rack. Turn heat to high and cover pot with a tight fitting lid. When water is steaming, add the cauliflower, cover and turn to medium-low. Steam florets until very tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp paring knife, 12-15 minutes.
While cauliflower is steaming, cook the leeks. Slice the leek in half and run under cold water to dislodge any sandy grit. Dry leek and chop crosswise into thin pieces. Heat oil in a medium fry pan over medium low heat adn cook leek until soft and tender, 2-3 minutes then add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds.
Add cauliflower, leeks and garlic to the work bowl of a food processor and puree, adding the butter, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the broth at the end to adjust creaminess. Serve hot or cool, cover and refrigerate up to 3 days, then reheat to serve.