Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rich and Thick Parmesan Cauliflower Mash - Low Carb Alternative for Mashed Potatoes

This evening we had my Spice Rubbed Slow Cooker Tri-Tip Roast for dinner (seasoned with a simple rub of 1/2 teaspoon of each: sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, smoked paprika, ground ancho chile pepper, and then about 1/4 teaspoon each onion powder and garlic powder). I put it in my crock-pot and cooked it all day long on low. When I got home, I placed about 2 pounds of cauliflower florets in a pot along with 1 cup of chicken stock and cooked it for about 20 minutes until the cauliflower was totally tender and all the broth had cooked off (I uncover the pan after the cauliflower is soft and cook off the remaining broth to concentrate the flavor the broth adds to the cauliflower). It also gives the cauliflower a slightly golden buttery color. 

I add cream cheese, cream, Parmesan salt and pepper and whiz it all together with my immersion blender while it's still in the pot...and "Voila", thick mashed potato-like cauliflower mash. Not only does it taste good, but it is almost impossible to tell them from the "real McCoy"!! While many of you that have followed me for a while have probably already tried these or made your own version of cauliflower mash (there are many variations), I wanted to make a special post for any newcomers, too. This recipe makes a GREAT low carb substitution for the traditional mashed potatoes frequently enjoyed on Thanksgiving. It is quick, simple and uses very few ingredients that are easy to find anywhere...but more importantly, it tastes really good. If you like garlic mashed potatoes simply coarsely chop a clove or two of garlic and toss it into the pan along with your cauliflower while it cooks so it gets tender. It will get pureed right along with the cauliflower, too. If you prefer your mash super thick and rich, simply add a bit more cream cheese or Parmesan. If you prefer them a bit thinner, add a touch more cream -- of course, butter is always welcome, too!  ;-)  Below is the recipe for my Rich & Thick Parmesan Cauliflower Mash along with a photo -- check out those "faux-tatoes". Enjoy!

All the chicken broth has been cooked off the cauliflower
Freshly pureed using my immersion blender 

Rich & Thick Parmesan Cauliflower Mash


1 medium head of fresh cauliflower, broken into 1-inch florets (about 2 pounds)
1 cup chicken broth or stock
2 ounces brick style cream cheese (1/4 of an 8-oz brick)
3 to 4 tablespoons cream
3 to 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Butter, to taste


In a medium saucepan, place cauliflower and chicken broth; bring to a boil and cover. Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer until cauliflower is very soft and tender and chicken broth has completely cooked into the cauliflower (about 20 to 30 minutes).  Make sure there is no liquid left at all in the bottom of the pan (remove the cover, if necessary and cook until any remaining liquid is gone and the cauliflower is no longer wet looking). Remove pan from heat; add cream cheese and heavy cream.  Using an immersion blender stick, blend or puree the cauliflower until the cheese and cream are fully incorporated and the mixture is smooth.  Add grated Parmesan cheese and salt and pepper, to taste.  Blend another minute; add optional butter, if desired. Adjust seasoning. Add additional cream to thin or additional cream cheese and/or Parmesan to thicken as necessary. The cauliflower mash should be thick and not runny.

*Note - If you don't have an immersion blender stick, this can be mashed and blended by hand with a potato masher or hand mixer (it just won't be quite as smooth).


CyberSis said...


Cauliflower has a special place in my heart. I think of it as nothing short of a miracle food. About a year ago, mashed cauliflower was the first low-carb substitution I tried. I was amazed to discover that it makes the tastiest mashed "potatoes" ever! Next came cauliflower "rice," and I was equally blown away. I knew right then that the wheat/grain-free, low-carb lifestyle had a good chance of working for me! I still enjoy these "staples" frequently.

After discovering your beautiful blog (I saw it mentioned on the WB blog) I'm now happily enjoying all sorts of wonderful things that I never dreamed could work on a low-carb menu (cannolis come to mind, for just one example among many ... unbelievable!) Thanks much for everything you do! :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi CybereSis -- I agree with you about cauliflower -- pretty amazing, isn't it? Who knew how versatile cauliflower could be? I don't think I have eaten cauliflower as "cauliflower" (still in floret form) since I went low carb -- instead it is transformed into other wonderful things as you said..."potatoes, rice, etc.". I didn't realize you found me on the Wheat Belly Blog, but so glad you did! It has amazed me, too, at how many different foods I can still enjoy with a bit of modification. I do believe it's part of the key to my success at staying low carb for as long as I have...the continuous journey in trying to defy what I feared might become a lifestyle of chronic deprivation in the search for better health. So far, so good! Thank you for your kind comments always -- and for sharing this wheat/grain-free journey right along with me! :-)

Gail @ Faithfulness Farm said...

LOVE mashed cauliflower. Your recipe is close to mine and cream cheese is totally the secret to it being CREAMY!


Patricia said...

Cream cheese is a fantastic idea! I had forgotten about that! Excellent! Yummy 10X!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Gail -- I agree -- the cream cheese does make a huge difference -- keeps it thick and adds creaminess at the same time! Great minds think alike! ;-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Patricia -- Cream cheese really does make a big difference (in my opinion). It makes mashed cauliflower that is "good for you" feel like you are eating something that is "bad for you"! ;-)

Hollie Fox said...

I've been making a version of this for awhile now, but yours sounds even better - looking forward to trying it with the cream cheese.

Two questions on your tri-tip roast - did you add any liquid to your slow cooker or brown the roast first?

Also, while you've told us about your typical breakfast of Greek yogurt (and your delicious weekend repasts), what do you usually eat for lunch? I don't often have leftovers from the previous night's dinner (or am saving them for another dinner) and need some quick & easy ideas.

Thanks for all the great recipes you share!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Hollie -- To answer your question about the tri-tip -- here is what I posted when I made it the first time:
Seasoning Rub -- I mixed approximately 1/2 teaspoon of each: sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, smoked paprika, ground ancho chile pepper, and then about 1/4 teaspoon each onion powder and garlic powder -- I placed a very thinly sliced small-medium sized onion in the bottom of the crock pot so the roast would sit on top of the onion and not directly on the bottom of the pot. I placed my spice rubbed roast on top, covered the crock pot and turned it on high for the first 1-1/2 hours and then down to low for the remaining 6-1/2 hours of slow cooking. I did not add any liquid. The "au jus" that was created as the roast cooked was a very concentrated flavorful juice made up entirely of beef juices and the little bit of liquid in the onion mixed with the spices and seasonings and was not diluted with anything other liquid. It produced approximately 2 cups of juice. Now...if you were going to leave the house all day long for 8+ hours or so, I would probably add about 1/4 cup of liquid to the pot to make sure it stayed moist. I added a touch more salt and pepper to the au jus. P.S. -- when I made the roast yesterday, I actually started it around midnight and cooked it overnight and all day until 5:00 pm. It cooked about 17 hours. I let it sit and cool a bit, thinly sliced it and placed it back into the juices in the crock pot and covered on low for about 30 minutes to infuse the juice into the meat -- makes it super tender.

For lunch - often leftover dinner from the night before and almost weekly I will make my spinach-feta pie (makes 6 servings) and it heats quickly and I don't get tired of it for some reason. Sometimes I make eggs (omelettes) and sometimes I make little sandwiches if I have leftover biscuits (w/ eggs, leftover chicken, chicken salad, etc.). If I don't feel like making much, I will roll turkey (good quality like boar's head with cheese into little meat/cheese roll-ups or fill miniature romaine leaf cups with chicken salad, etc. Also really quick and good is my grain-free tortillas used as wraps -- roll turkey, cheese, lettuce, etc. or whatever you like and you have a quick sandwich wrap. Hope this helps! :-)

cgstan said...


Happy Thanksgiving! perfect timing on the post!
How can I make ahead and reheat a triple batch? I make this often but reheating this time would be much more convenient!


Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi cgstan -- Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! I am going to make a single batch of it today and reheat on Thursday, too. I will also make mashed potatoes for the rest of the family. For the mashed cauliflower, since you are making a triple batch...I wonder how it would do if you put it in a large shallow casserole dish (or a disposable kind)and reheat it in the oven, much like you would a casserole? You may have to stir it a few times as it heats. You could also sprinkle the top with some grated cheese, too, if you wanted. While you could also reheat it in the microwave, that might not be as convenient for a triple-sized batch. I'm sure if you placed it in a large pot on the stove, you could reheat it slowly there, too. If it gets watery as you reheat it, add some more finely grated/powdery Parmesan to absorb it. Hope that helps. :-)

cgstan said...

Hi there!

I did in fact make a triple batch of the Cauliflower the day before, let it cool, refrigerated it, then the next day put it in a covered casserole dis and reheated it...perfect.

Thanks for your advice and keep cookin'!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi cgstan! So glad that worked out for you! Thanks! :-)

Anonymous said...

I made these today and I am so glad! They are so, so good! Thank you!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Thanks so much -- I am so glad you enjoyed them. :-)

Unknown said...

Do you know the net carbs for this by any chance. Made it tonite and loved it

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Unknown,

It will depend on your portion size. Cauliflower is generally quite low in carbs. Here is the nutrition calculator I like to use. (some folks like to use my fitness pal or others instead).

So happy you liked it! :-)

Deb Shaver said...

Do you happen to know the net carb count for these? Made them, they were great. Thanks

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Deb,

It all depends on your portion size. Cauliflower is generally quite low in carbs. Here is the nutrition calculator I like to use. (some folks like to use my fitness pal or others instead).

Glad you enjoyed them! :-)

Anonymous said...

Steamed cauli usually has a strong taste for me. Does making your mash...which sounds to mitigate that taste due to the cream cheese and Parmesan?

Wanda said...

How strongly does the cauliflower taste come through?

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Wanda,

I don't think it tastes strong at all. First of all, it's cooked in chicken broth (not water) until all broth is absorbed which flavors the cauliflower. Then it is mashed with cream cheese, cream and Parmesan which all further flavor it and make the texture thick and creamy. I don't feel it tastes strongly of cauliflower at all; I would say the Parmesan is the predominant flavor to me.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Anonymous,

This does not taste like steamed cauliflower. See my response above to Wanda. Thanks!

Jen said...

We made these with dinner tonight and they were amazing! They will definitely be part of our Thanksgiving feast :)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Jen,

That's great! So happy you enjoyed them. I truly don't miss mashed potatoes with these. :-)

Anonymous said...

How would you do this without an immersion blender? Can't really afford one at this moment! :(

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Anonymous,

Do you have either a regular blender or food processor? Either of those would work. If not, you could use a potato masher and just mash it as smooth as possible. It may not have the exact texture but would still be good. I have hand mashed it before and I liked it that way too. :-)

CyberSis said...


We love this both ways: whipped and mashed. :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi CyberSis,

Thanks! Glad you chimed in too that it's also good the poster knows it will still be could even without an immersion blender. :-)

Inquiring Minds said...

I just wanted to profusely thank you for this recipe. I've tried my hand at caulimash many a time and have been disappointed. It's always been watery and obviously cauliflower. This, however, this...the angels sing! They taste just like whipped potatoes. It's all I can do not to eat the whole pot! And now I'm kicking myself for owning an immersion blender for over a year before I broke it out. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Inquiring Minds!

So happy you enjoyed the recipe. I did the same thing (owned an immersion blender for a long time before using). You are very welcome! :-)