Thursday, March 21, 2013

Paleo Cauliflower Mash-tinis: Getting Perfect, Fluffy Cauli-MashEverytime

Truth be told, I am and have always been a sucker for wedding/party food. I remember the first "Mash-tini" bar that I encountered. It was at a wedding (of course) and there was a tall, quiet man dressed in black pants and a crisp white dress shirt serving up elegant, long stemmed martini glasses filled with fluffy clouds of buttery mashed potatoes. With a sweep of his arm he invited me to explore a long table filled with mounds and mounds of toppings. Bacon, shrimp, chives, cheese, bacon, sour cream and three different kinds of delicious gravy. (Oh, and did I mention bacon?) I was in mashed potato heaven!

Never one to be held back from the foods that I love by something as silly as allergies and food sensitivities, I decided to recreated that elegant experience with mashed cauliflower. And boy is it ever a winner around my place! This very well might be my kids favorite dish....of. all. time. Partly because they love mashed cauliflower and partly because they can build their own dinner. But mostly......because I always include bacon; lots and lots of bacon!

If you've had a bad experience with cauli-mash, I encourage you to give this method a try. The key to making a great tasting mash that everyone will go crazy for is nailing the texture. You have to keep it nice and thick instead of letting it become a runny, sloppy mess. This is done through proper cooking times/techniques and by not adding too much liquid ingredients during the blending process. If  your cauliflower gets overcooked it will be runny instead of fluffy and thick as well as smell and taste overly "cauliflowery".

A good thing to remember is that cauliflower already has a naturally high water content and is fairly low in starch. For this reason I prefer to steam my cauliflower so as not to introduce any more liquid than necessary to the equation. I know you might be thinking "but I want my mashed-cauli to be flavorful not bland!" Don't worry, your mash can have flavor and fluff too! But ONLY if you don't overcook it! We'll talk about cooking times in the recipe below.

Cauliflower Mash-tinis

Paleo, Nightshade Free, Serves 2- 3


1 head of cauliflower (if it is very small you may need 1 1/2 to 2 heads)

2-3 Tablespoons fat, I like to use 50/50 bacon fat and ghee

Coarse Sea Salt & pepper to taste (a must for great flavor)

Optional: dried herbs like chives, marjoram or Italian seasoning, even crumbled bacon..

Extra ghee or oil for serving

Toppings: The options are endless, but we like to use these: crispy bacon crumbles, fresh chives or green onions, shrimp, sausage, chicken, ham, pickles, asparagus, raw yogurt, raw cheese, gravy, hollandaise...maybe not all at one time though.


1. Fill a medium sized pot (fitted with a steamer basket) about 1/4-1/3 full of water. You want to give it room to boil without hitting the bottom of the basket. Do not pre-boil the water! Just leave it there till ready to use.

2. Cut the cauliflower into small evenly sized florets, trimming off the thick ends. You can keep the ends for salads, soups or whatever. You will have a fluffier mash if you cut them all the way off.

3. Add the cauliflower to the basket and cover with the lid.

4. Turn your burner on medium high to high. Sett he timer for about 12 minutes. While the cauliflower is steaming prepare your toppings.

Important: DO NOT OVER COOK! It may seem like the cauliflower isn't cooked through enough, but it most likely is. The cauliflower should be soft enough to break up if pressed with a wooden spoon, but it should not be mushy at all. If you let the cauliflower get too soft it will just end up as a runny mess instead of a fluffy mash once pureed. If it is too under-cooked it will be grainy. Twelve minutes works every time for me. However, times could vary slightly from steamer to steamer.

5. Remove from heat and immediately transfer the cauliflower to a food processor.

6. Process till smooth. This could take a few minutes so be patient! Stop the processor if needed and stir to get all the cauliflower pieces blended in. As the mash gets smoother, add about 2-3 tablespoons of fat and any dried herbs that you like, then continue pureeing till smooth.

7. Transfer to a bowl and stir in salt and pepper to taste. Cool slightly as it can be extremely hot and bonus, it will thicken some as it cools too.

8. Divide into 2-3 martini glasses or other dishes, add toppings and ENJOY!

WARNING: This dish is ridiculously filling, satisfying and addicting! You will probably be fully stuffed and yet still find yourself looking for more. So pace yourself. :)


  1. Quick question! Does the 12 minutes apply from the time you turn on the burner or once the water is boiling? I would really love to be able to make this right and agree that sometimes it's all about following directions exact! Thanks so much :)

    1. Yep! 12 minutes total. Don't pre boil the water and don't turn it down to a low simmer. Just make sure the water isn't touching the bottom of the basket.

  2. I am going to the wrong weddings, obviously, as I have never experience the wonder of a mash-tini bar. Yum. And having previously had mixed results with cauliflower mash, I am looking forward to trying your version and getting better, consistent results.

  3. I'm new to your site, I'm so happy I have found it. Like AlHeather, I follow directions exactly as well. 12 minutes room temp water, I'm assuming. Correct? Thank you!

  4. Thanks, I cant wait to try this! I love steamed cauliflower with bacon, cheese and ranch dressing. But, mashing it has never worked very well for me.

  5. Would this be something you could make ahead and heat up a bit? I am trying to bring a "potato" like side for Easter.

  6. Yes, I know people that do it all the time. I do feel that it's at it's best fresh and less "cauliflowerish"

  7. Happy you posted this! I frequently make cauliflower mash and mine is always a little runny...evidently, I've been doing it wrong :)

  8. Any idea how many ounces or at least cups comprise "1 head of cauliflower"? Thank you!

  9. That would very significantly depending on if you are talking about raw or cooked and it would very even more depending on how large or small you cut the florets into. All would measure differently. The key really is just cooking for the exact amount of time and add far to taste and texture.

    1. Thank you, I weighed out 16 oz. raw florets and called it good. ;)

      And it was, BTW, if not better than good. I added wilted spinach and roasted garlic, this time around.

      Thank you for sharing this technique! No more shall my cauliflower drown in boiling water.

  10. Hello!! I made this tonight and it was EXCELLENT! I mean truly delicious! I have tried making cauli mash many times with a very dismal, wet product. It was never mashed potato like at all. But, this is!! Thank you so much for this recipe. It will definitely be a staple!

  11. I made this tonight and it was fabulous! Like others I've tried cauli mash before and it was awful but this was perfect!! Only complaint in my house was my 5 year old informing me it was supposed to be served in pretty glasses not on plates!! She still ate it all though!

  12. Thank you, this was great! The first (and only other) time I made this I boiled the cauliflower and added way too much garlic as per the directions. Soupy disaster.