This cauliflower puree recipe is a keeper (and it’s naturally gluten-free)
I’m sharing this cauliflower puree from my personal recipe collection because, although I think cauliflower has been done in one too many ways, this recipe has been a staple in my arsenal for years. It isn’t innovative. It isn’t trying to be anything other than what it is–a vegetable puree. And as such, I think it is a satisfying veggie recipe and a great accompaniment to a grilled or braised meat dish.
What defines a great vegetable puree
A vegetable puree seems like one of the simplest things to make, right? It’s baby food! However an improperly executed puree is one of the worst foods you can imagine. From gluey to lumpy and coarse, there are so many mistakes that can be made to torture the palate.
The technique will vary between vegetables. You’ll need to treat stringy celery a little differently than spongy eggplant or firm florets of cauliflower. But for any successful puree, one of the most important steps is to thoroughly cook the vegetable before attempting to process it to a smooth cream.
With a vegetable like cauliflower with parts of varying sizes, this starts with cutting it down to fairly even pieces. I do this by shaving, (see the recipe below). It’s also good to test for seasoning as you puree because a good puree is as much about flavor as it is about texture.
And that’s why I add shallot to my cauliflower puree.
What is the difference between shallots and onions?
Shallots are part of the onion family. But their flavor is milder than that of most onions. They offer an almost delicate balance of sweet, acidic, spicy and bitter flavors all at once–only in perfect balance.
Roasting shallots brings out the sweet side a little bit while taking away that spicy, onion-y bite. And when they’re added to cauliflower and pureed together, magic happens. Suddenly, any cabbage notes that might linger in the flavor and aromas of the cauliflower disappear and are replaced with a slightly sweet, deep and earthy onion note.
How to customize this cauliflower puree recipe
I skipped the butter in my cauliflower puree because I was trying to make something reasonably healthy but this dish does welcome butter. So if you want to make a supremely decadent puree, diminish the milk by a couple of tablespoons and add in European, unsalted butter instead.
This simple Roasted Cauliflower Puree is a great, light alternative to potatoes. And it's gluten-free!
- 1 medium head cauliflower approximately 5-6 cups
- 1 large shallot peeled and trimmed
- 2 cup 2% milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Lightly oil a large baking sheet.
- Cut the cauliflower from the stem by shaving the florets in 1/2 inch slices. (Most of the cauliflower will crumble into tiny florets. This is ok.) Continue to cut until all the florets are removed and about 1-2 inches of stem remain. Discard the remaining stem.
- Spread the cut cauliflower evenly on the baking sheet. Add the shallot to the pan and roast for 10 minutes in the center rack of the oven.
- Remove the cauliflower from the pan and return the shallot to the oven for an additional 5 minutes or until completely soft.
- Add the roasted cauliflower, the 2 cups of milk and the salt to a large stock pot and bring to a simmer. (The milk should almost cover the cauliflower. If the majority of the cauliflower is not submerged, add a small amount of milk, being careful not to add too much liquid.)
- Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Transfer the cauliflower mixture to a blender, adding the shallot, and blend until smooth.
- Season with additional salt to taste.
- Serve puree warm.
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