Those who are familiar with low-carb diets know that cauliflower is the number one choice as a substitute  for potatoes, and even rice.  Indeed,  I’ve seen recipes in which the florets are grated and used in what it’s called  “cauli-rice.”   I don’t think it would fool me, though, I love rice way too much!  ;-)  Now, back to puree…

Potatoes have enough starch to produce a creamy and smooth texture when cooked and mashed.  Other veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, even parsnips, end up with a more watery and grainy texture.  For that reason, most recipes will coach you into adding a lot of butter, heavy cream, or some type of cream cheese.   Sally Schneider, author of  “The Improvisational Cook,” came up with a very clever twist: she cooks the veggie in milk (low fat is fine), and adds to the cooking liquid an apple and a little bit of pasta (like angel hair).  The result is amazing.  Never in a million years I expected Phil to urge me to blog about a cauliflower recipe. His exact words were:  “make sure you really pump this recipe up, it’s awesome”!

(adapted from “The Improvisational Cook“)

1 medium cauliflower, core and leaves removed
1 small apple, peeled and cored, chopped
1/2 quart low fat milk
1/2 quart water
1/2 ounce angel hair pasta, broken in pieces
1 tsp salt
pinch of sugar
ground white pepper

Cut the cauliflower florets and stems roughly into pieces. Add the pieces to a pan with the milk/water, apple, bring to a gentle boil.  Add the pasta, salt, and sugar.   Cook, stirring every once in a while, until the cauliflower is tender (25 minutes).

Remove 1/4 cup from the cooking liquid and reserve. Strain the vegetables (the rest of the milk/water can be used for soups later), place them in a food processor and puree for a couple of minutes, until completely smooth.  Make sure to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice.  If too thick, add some of the reserved cooking liquid.

Return the puree to the pan, place it over very low heat, add white pepper, taste, and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper.


to print the recipe, click here

Schneider’s book is perfect for those who like to use recipes as a starting point instead of a rigid set of rules.  She opens each subject with a section called “Understanding,” explaining the reasoning behind the recipes in that section.  Finally, she offers  suggestions to improvise on your own.
I absolutely love this approach!

This puree is silky-smooth, you won’t taste the apple, but it really does something to “tame” the cauliflower flavor, so even those with “cauliflower issues” will be pleased.   Of course, because there’s a small amount of pasta in it, this dish won’t be as low in carbs as a pure cauliflower version, but it is still  much lighter than mashed potatoes.   Sometimes, it’s exactly what we crave…

ONE YEAR AGO: Vegetarian Lasagna

TWO YEARS AGO:  Brazilian Pao de Queijo (Cheese Breads)  – a classic!

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18 thoughts on “A MUST-MAKE VEGGIE PUREE

  1. I love the idea of experimenting with different combinations of flavour and texture to produce different results. I imagine that the apple not only lends some pulpy texture but also wonderful flavour. Cooking in milk is a neat idea – I suspect this gives rise to a nice silky texture that I am picking up from the picture of your lovely puree (beautiful bowl by the way). With Phil’s strong endorsement, I think I may have to try this!


    • I modified slightly the recipe to cook it in half milk and half water – she also uses extra butter or cream in the final cooking, but I omitted and honestly, it was creamy and had a rich enough “feel” without it.


  2. I’m one of those with cauliflower issues…but with such a strong endorsement and an apple to cut the taste, maybe this could be my healthy way to try cauliflower again (I say healthy because I think the only other way I could stand to try it is in butter or cheese!).🙂 And that cookbook sounds fascinating. That is exactly the way I like to cook – educate myself on the techniques and ingredient options and they do with it what I will.


      • Made it last night! The texture is amazing, I never imagined cauliflower could be so creamy in a puree – I bet you could dilute it with some stock or something and turn it into a fantastic soup!

        Hubby loved it too, and he is like your husband, not too fond of cauliflower. I am getting this book, by the way.

        thanks, Sally!


  3. You know, I think this might be a worthwhile dish if you substituted meat for the vegetables.

    BTW, I made that ‘bolo futballo’ or whatever cornmeal cake last week (don’t know if you saw my comment in that entry). It was freakin’ AWESOME.

    But next time, I’m substituting meat for the cornmeal and coconut. Just on principle.


    • I saw your comment and was wondering how it worked, so I’m glad you posted – bolo “futballo” is priceless, by the way, very Brazilian 😉

      Yeah, some recipes just don’t have enough hemoglobin for the real carnivores amongst us 😉


  4. I’ve definitely used cauliflower to replace potatoes, thicken soup and as rice, but never in this manner. I’m so excited to try this! I can’t believe the addition of apple and pasta! I’m so glad Phil urged you to post this!!


    • In fact, Phil made me push this recipe to the top, I had two others in line to blog about, but he convinced me to talk about this one first “while it was hot in our memory”


  5. Pingback: Mexican “Rice” « December Moms

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