smoked gouda cauliflower “mashed potatoes”

I love mashed potatoes. I love any potato.

When I first started using cauliflower to curb my cravings, is when everyone else did. I think most of us ran to cauliflower to cure all our carb problems. I’m not sure who first saw the potential of the cauliflower but until then, I wasn’t making much use of that vegetable. It was annoying to cut into, would stink up the place when you cooked it… Basically, I thought it was a pretty looking thing in the produce section that would never find its forever home with me.

Little did I know what all I was going to end up doing with it! Pizza crust, soups, mac and cheese… and of course, mashed potatoes.

I use a 4 cup Cuisinart food processor for most / all things and it can handle even the toughest of jobs. If you’re on the fence about getting a smaller food processor, don’t be. They are fantastic and take up no footprint unlike the standard food processor. Which I finally had to get rid of; it was huge, it was cumbersome… I lost one of the blades. What a mess.

You may ask, why smoked Gouda and Parmesan? The Parmesan gives these “mashed potatoes” a little bite that you need to cut the cauliflower. And the smoked Gouda makes it more decadent. Whenever I can, I use smoked Gouda. Even if I’m hiding it in a meal, you taste this rich flavor that you immediately miss when you don’t use it the next time.

The biggest mistake when making this is in thinking suddenly any taste of cauliflower will be gone. It won’t be gone. You will not taste as much and can add cream or even a bit of alfredo sauce to it if you really want a healthier side (alfredo? Yes. Classico has a Lite Alfredo for only 45 cals and the ingredients are not bad) but want less cauliflower taste. You can make half cauliflower, half potato. You can even scrap both cheeses I recommended and go with a simple yummy sharp cheddar. That would be great! Maybe even take portions and make small balls, baking them in the oven…

I’m getting ahead of myself here.

You will need:

  • Cauliflower florets (any way you want to get them: frozen, raw already cut, a whole cauliflower)
  • Smoked gouda
  • Grated parmesan
  • Italian flat leaf parsley (fresh)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Butter (optional)
  • Sour cream (optional)
  • Chives (optional)

Prep your florets by either cutting them off the whole cauliflower (keep the stems, they can thicken soups) or defrosting them from a frozen bag. Some frozen bags are great to grab since you can just steam them right in the microwave, otherwise you will need to cook the cauliflower ahead of time. This isn’t hard. Steaming vegetables is easy and some people even like to roast them (400 degrees) before using them as it adds just a bit more flavor. However you decide to cook them, go ahead and do so while you prep the rest of the ingredients.

By now, you probably have your preferred method of steaming. I have multiple methods: a bamboo steamer, a metal steamer that fits over my wok, a plastic microwave steamer… I have used all of them. Just make sure the florets are fork tender before you go to blend them (even with an immersion blender). This is not because they won’t blend but instead, it’s because you want them hot and creamy. I find them best suited for this chore when they are completely cooked.

Clean and let dry some fresh flat leaf parsley, grate or chop up some smoked gouda and when the cauliflower is ready and just a bit cooled (heat rises so you’ll want to make sure it’s more room temp when you go to put them into the processor) throw everything into the machine.

A few sprigs of flat leaf parsley, as many heads of the cauliflower as will fit, two tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese, a handful of smoked gouda, some salt and pepper (to taste) and a tablespoon of olive oil (if you see the processor struggling add more). The butter and sour cream are voluntary; some people like the taste in their mashed potatoes. You can always try without and add it if you want it.

TIP: less is more when it comes to the olive oil. Only add if you REALLY need it and haven’t decided on any other substance (butter, sour cream, milk, etc). Too much olive oil and you’ll end up with a cauliflower “pesto”. A smoked gouda cauliflower pesto sounds nice, though… hmmm

I end up running a couple batches, tasting as I go to see what I need more or less of in each batch, combining it all together in the end.

(Forgive the lack of cropping from my Instagram page)

To reheat, plop the thick cheesy “mashed potatoes” in a pot and serve. You can also place in ramekins with a bit more cheese on top and reheat in the oven on 350 until the cheese gets crispy. Top with chives if you like or dill! I promise you will not miss the heavy starch. Though, don’t get rid of your potatoes completely…

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