It came as a complete surprise. We were grilling steaks, I had baked potatoes but I needed a vegetable. The only fresh vegetables I had were baby carrots, celery and onions. I had kale in my freezer but after my daughter complained that I duped her on enchilada day, I didn’t want to chance it.
I sat down in front of my freezer, yanking stuff out of its vegetable drawer. I had a few slices of peppers, two bags of frozen celery, and then I pulled it out. A bag of cauliflower florets, just enough for one night. I grabbed the cauliflower, decided to get rid of the small bag of frozen celery and attempt a quick puree. I’d seen them all over Food Network, but never tried to make one, maybe because I don’t like cauliflower. But it was all I had. How hard could it be? I reasoned, and set out to cook.
I melted some butter in a saucepan, added the rough-chopped celery and cooked it until tender. Then I added the cauliflower, which in hindsight I could have added earlier. I thought it would cook fast. Didn’t really. But anyway, added some minced garlic, lots of salt, a bit of black pepper, put the top on the pan and let everything simmer until the cauliflower was soft.
I dumped the pan in the food processor, processed a bit. It didn’t get creamy like the ones on TV so I added a big dollop of sour cream, processed again, and there it was. It looked like whipped potatoes.
I put it on the table, my husband asked if it was mashed potatoes. I said, “Why would I give you mashed potatoes with a baked potato? No, it’s a puree.” I didn’t want to scare my daughter away from it by mentioning the cauliflower. My husband took some, tasted it and said “Oh my God! This is. Wow! What is it?” (Did I mention my husband hates celery?)
I deflected that question again and tasted mine. It was more than good. It was rich creamy and full of flavor – kind of like a creamy garlic bread, light on the garlic. I’d oversalted, I thought, but my husband and daughter would have a salt lick on the kitchen table if I let them, so I knew they’d be cool with it. Next time I’ll use less salt. My daughter tasted the puree and loved it as much as her dad did. They both had seconds. My four-year-old son did not try it, because he was being a butt. He ate two bites of his steak — which he normally loves — and asked to be excused. As I mentioned, he was being a butt, so we excused him.
I encourage you to try this one. My husband said that I should bring it to Thanksgiving and hoodwink his brother into eating a vegetable. Maybe I will. I pretty much wrote the recipe above but here’s a recap, using the tweaks I mentioned for next time. I’m sorry, I always try to include a picture, but I didn’t take one because I had no expectations for the dish. Honestly, who knew?
Cauliflower Puree (Serves 4)
3 tbsp. butter (I think olive oil would work just fine too)
1/2 cup celery, fresh or frozen, sliced crosswise in 1/2″ pieces
3 cups cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen (Stems would work too)
2 cloves garlic, minced (I use the ready-minced garlic in a jar – it’s about 2 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. salt, more to taste
Black pepper to taste
Large dollop (about 3-4 tbsp.) sour cream
In medium saucepan, melt butter. When butter is melted, add celery and cook over medium heat until pliable with a spoon. Add cauliflower and cook. When cauliflower is tender-crisp, reduce heat to low and add garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and cook until cauliflower is pliable with a spoon. Remove pan from heat and pour directly into a food processor. Add sour cream and process until mixture becomes a smooth puree. If it’s not smooth enough, add more sour cream in small increments and process until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste, pulse and serve.
If you do try it, please comment and let me know how it went – If you liked it; if you didn’t; if your kids ate it. If you’ve got any ideas for improvements, I’d be happy to hear them. I’m writing a cookbook, and feedback is invaluable. I hope you enjoy the puree! Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!