There are some vegetables that seem to have a large variety of uses compared to others. For instance, some vegetables are only used for one or two dishes, and aside from that, seem to be rarely used in anything.
Other vegetables seem to be used in countless recipes, acting as the main ingredient, substitute ingredients, and just about any other role that you can think of.
When working with these versatile vegetables, you may be confused as to how you will need to get the job done. After all, with as many uses as these vegetables have, it can be easy to mess up the recipe and turn them into something that you weren’t planning to make.
In some cases, it could very well be that you aren’t used to working with the vegetable and you might not know how to work around that vegetable’s unique issues.
Take the cauliflower as an example. Cauliflower is commonly roasted as smaller, heavily seasoned pieces, although in some situations, people may even consider using it as a flour. Cauliflower can be an interesting and unique alternative to a potato in a few meals as well.
Everyone knows the classic mashed potato recipe, but very few people are aware that you can cook cauliflowers in much the same way, replicating this dish without the use of a potato.
Mashed cauliflower, of course, will have a different texture, taste, and consistency than most potatoes do. This means that if you try to go about making mashed cauliflower in the same way you make mashed potatoes, you may be sorely mistaken.
The Problem with Mashed Cauliflower
For many people, mashed cauliflower is the perfect low-carb alternative to the classic side dish of mashed potatoes.
One stark difference between these two vegetables is that cauliflowers tend to absorb a lot of water, very quickly, leaving you with a watery, even soupy mess of mashed cauliflower.
If you are looking for creamy and smooth cauliflower, you are going to have a little bit of work to do to finesse it.
The florets specifically tend to absorb a lot of water, which means that trying to boil them is not going to end well for a mashed cauliflower recipe.
Even if you try to strain the florets after boiling, the result will be less of a watery mashed cauliflower, but something more akin to soup.
This leaves you with two options to turn the cauliflower florets into their mashed variants, while still removing the majority of the water from the dish. You can either steam them and then work with a food processor to achieve the texture you want, or you can bake the florets and then process them as you wish.
Both of these methods will help you achieve a mashed cauliflower recipe without all of the excess water, allowing you to have your alternative to mashed potatoes without all of the carbs.
Fixing the Recipe
No matter how you managed to begin the recipe, in the beginning there is much more of a chance that it will end up watery, soupy, or generally not what you wanted the dish to be.
When this happens, rather than getting rid of the dish or trying to stomach through it, you may want to think about how you are going to fix the dish.
Depending on the condition of your cauliflower mash, it should be relatively easy to salvage, meaning that it shouldn’t be impossible to fix.
One of the first things that you can try doing is grinding down some more cauliflower to add to the dish. Chances are that if there is too much liquid in your cauliflower mash, then you can offset that abundance of liquid by adding more solids to the dish. In fact, what you add doesn’t even have to be cauliflower.
Given that cauliflower is working as a potato substitute here, you could probably get away with mashing a potato and adding it to the cauliflower.
The added potato will help absorb some of the excess moisture that cauliflowers are so well-known for, and because of the nature of both of these dishes, it will be hard to distinguish the added ingredients by taste, leaving you with a perfectly suitable bowl of mashed cauliflower and potato.
You could also choose to mix some broccoli into the dish as well, given that broccoli and cauliflower are quite similar. Do keep in mind that this will end up turning the entire dish green, so if you are looking for a good replacement for mashed potatoes in appearance, adding broccoli to the mixture may not work very well.
In the end, adding any type of vegetable to the cauliflower can work out well for you, as long as that vegetable can mash up well, won’t overpower the cauliflower taste, and will not bring even more excess liquid to the dish.
Instead, you will be left with a dish that much better resembles mashed cauliflower than you had before, and you won’t have to worry about the excess water either.
Another method that you could consider working with is simply using heat to evaporate the liquid. This method is going to be time-consuming and there is a slight risk of accidentally burning the mash, but if you are slow and careful, you should be able to boil it down so that there is only mashed cauliflower left.
The idea here is that you put your soupy mash into a pan and you put that pan on the stove. You will want to heat it up to the point where it just begins to simmer.
At this temperature, you will want to let it cook uncovered so that all of the liquid has a chance to evaporate out of your mashed cauliflower.
This can end up taking a little bit of time, depending on just how watery the cauliflower mash was. You will also need to check in periodically to stir the dish so that it doesn’t stick to the pan and burn.
After all, the goal of this method is not necessarily to cook the mash, but it is to evaporate away the excess water.
Salvaging the Mash
If you find that your cauliflower mash is so watery that it is beyond saving, or you simply do not have the time and patience to work with it, then you may want to consider using it in another recipe.
For instance, adding some bone broth and some spices to cauliflower mash and mixing it all together can help to turn it into a well-seasoned soup.
Even if the dish doesn’t appear to be palatable at first, with enough time and effort, you will surely be able to find a way to bring the mash into a condition where you are willing to eat it.
In some cases, you may want to use other vegetables to counteract the excess water in the cauliflower, while in other cases, you may just want to cook the excess water away.
No matter what, by the end of the day, you will be left with a hearty and healthy meal that you can appreciate, and what’s more is that you will be able to learn from the mistake of working with cauliflower that has too much water in it.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.