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.
medium head cauliflower, cut into pieces
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.
Related: Five Ways to Eat Cauliflower
(Image: Tammy Everts)