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Runner’s Recipe: Not Your Mom’s Mashed Potatoes

Posted Apr 26 2012 11:30am

There’s a reason for the title; it’s because my mom doesn’t make me mashed potatoes, or at least she hasn’t since I was younger. Instead, she makes me mashed cauliflower – a side dish that may look like mashed potatoes but most certainly is not.

If you’re new to the blog, let me quickly recap my eating habits. I try to make healthful choices as often as I can. On any normal day, I eat an abundance of vegetables and candy, in that order. Why? Because vegetables fuel me. Sugar fuels me too. Together, they are a winning combination, and so that is what I eat.

Produce in New York City is expensive though, especially if you frequent trendy markets like Whole Foods. That’s why I rely on my produce guy. He’s cheap, he knows me, and he usually slips in an extra lemon or two when I tell him to “keep the change.”

The only downside to my trusted vendor is that his produce tends to be overly ripe. What that means is, while delicious and juicy, it’s also only good for a day – maybe two at best. Come over to Noah’s and my apartment on any given afternoon, and you’ll find our refrigerator mostly empty, save for peanut butter, raspberry preserves, wine and beer. Any fruits and vegetables that do find their way into our apartment are typically eaten only hours later.

This week, the produce man was stocking cauliflower, which is perfect because I was
totally craving mashed potatoes anyway. What?

That’s right. The backstory of my cauliflower puree is simple. Not long ago, my mom began to replace the main ingredient in mashed potatoes with cauliflower – and I’m not referring to the butter. Instead, taking inspiration from a side dish I loved growing up of pureed broccoli (I was a weird kid), she cooked up a concoction of cauliflower with a dab of butter. Now, taking inspiration from my mom (but replacing the butter with olive oil and a bucket of Parmesan cheese), I’m bringing the recipe to you.

What you need (ingredients): 1 head of cauliflower, extra virgin olive oil, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder (optional), black pepper, grated Parmesan cheese

What you need (tools): A pot and an immersion blender

What to do: 

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt.

2. Wash and cut the cauliflower, and place in the boiling water. Allow the cauliflower to boil until it’s super soft. This should take about 10 to 20 minutes depending on how much cauliflower you have and how hot your stove gets.

3. Once all the water is boiled out (you may have to pour some out into the sink to speed up the process), turn off the stove. You definitely want to make sure most of the water it out at the point, or else you’ll end up with soggy, watery non-mashed potatoes.

4. Using the immersion blender, pulverize the cauliflower about halfway so that there is a chunky consistency. Stop blending, and pour in about 2 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil depending on how much cauliflower you’re cooking. Season to taste using paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder (optional) and black pepper. I don’t suggest using salt if you’re going to stir in cheese, since usually this provides enough of a salty flavor.

5. Blend completely until the cauliflower has the consistency of mashed potatoes.

6. Pour in Parmesan cheese to taste and stir in. Note: if the cauliflower mixture cooled down between the time you turned off the stove and when you’re ready to add cheese, you may need to turn the stove on for a few minutes again. Don’t forget to keep stirring though, or you’ll end up with burnt cheese.

7. Enjoy! Ok, my pureed cauliflower sounds a little boring still, but I usually don’t eat it plain. Some options: Often, I’ll stir in something with a chunkier consistency, like chickpeas. Other times, I’ll sautee spinach with crushed almonds and place them in the middle of the pile. With such a neutral flavor, the possibilities are endless.

On another note, Wednesday’s run (as usual, I ran) was focused on “me time.” No camera, no games. I didn’t care how far I went or where. And to be honest, I don’t have much more to say about it other than that I was completely satisfied. Central Park was beautiful. But since that’s also a completely unsatisfactory and boring description, I am choosing to indulge you in food instead.

And in the fact that I woke up in the middle of the night on Thursday after being attacked by a mosquito, and now i have two fingers, one on each hand, that are hot, itchy and the size of balloons. I think there is something severely wrong with me, and typing is seriously painful.

Exhibit A: (Here, you’re looking at the fact that my ring finger has no knuckle.)

Exhibit B: (Here, you’ll notice that my thumb has no contours. In fact, it bulges out a bit.)

Bon appetite, happy running, and happy Thursday.

  • Have you ever been attacked by mosquitos in your sleep? Do you have horrible physical reactions to bug bites? If you have a remedy, I’d really appreciate it here!
  • On the quest for health, have you ever created a dish that substitutes one main ingredient for another one? 
  • Does mashed cauliflower sound like torture to you?

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