After trying a version of cauliflower puree at a local restaurant a couple of years back, I just had to track down a recipe. If you want to impress your guests, you can call this classic French dish by its original name: chou-fleur purée de chou-fleur. Traditionally used as a bed for serving roasted meats, in lieu of potatoes, it also makes a great side dish sans meat.
This dish is a huge crowd pleaser, even among folks (i.e. my children) who aren't super enthusiastic cauliflower eaters. I guess it falls into that category of "pleasing mushy white foods." Fortunately it's satisfying eating for grownups, too. It also makes a great late-night snack when reheated.
I'm posting the basic version of the recipe below, but it lends itself well to adaptation. A handful of grated cheese, a dash of milk or cream, a sprinkle of nutmeg – add whatever strikes your fancy. For inspiration, just think of all the ways you like to embellish mashed potatoes.
Cauliflower Purée serves 6
1 onion, chopped 1/4 cup butter 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into pieces 4 cloves garlic, peeled 3 cups milk Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan over medium heat, soften the onion in 2 tablespoons butter. Add the cauliflower, garlic and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently until the cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well, setting aside the liquid for another use.
In a food processor, purée the cauliflower with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and no more than 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. (This is where you can substitute a bit of milk or cream.) Adjust the seasoning, then serve.