mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes are one of the most versatile side dishes: perfect with stews, roast chicken or even on all on their luscious own. But as winter trudges on, I start looking for ways to perk up my favorite purée… and perhaps add a few extra vitamins to the starchy side! Whether you’re looking for something new and different or trying to hide veggies in a friendly form for picky kids, here are three great alternatives to mashed potatoes.

Cauliflower Purée

When puréed, this white vegetable resembles potatoes quite a bit in appearance, though the taste brings forth the natural sweet nuttiness of cauliflower. To keep the texture of mashed potatoes, include some of the tubers as well.

Steam or boil 2 cups cauliflower florets and 1 pound potatoes. Cut the potatoes the same size as the florets. Cook for 20 minutes, until fork tender, then drain and return to pot. Mash with a potato masher and add 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons cream cheese, salt to taste and 1 pinch freshly ground nutmeg. I love to serve this mash with roast chicken. The flavors of the mash stand up to the savory meat, and it also makes a great tool for sopping up delicious sauce.

Celery-Root and Roasted Garlic Purée

For something with a bit more oomph, I like this combination of celery-root and roasted garlic. Simply peel, dice and cook 1 large or two small celery-root (also known as celeriac) until fork-tender (about 20 minutes boiled or steamed), and then mash with 3/4 cloves of roasted garlic, salt to taste and a tablespoon of butter.

I love to roast individual garlic cloves in olive oil, as they perfume the oil, which can then be used for cooking or added directly to the purée for more flavor. Place up to 6 still-wrapped cloves in a ramekin and cover with 2/3 tablespoons of olive oil. Cover the entire ramekin with aluminum foil, and roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, stirring once. The cloves will be tender, and the oil can be added to the celery-root purée along with the butter or in place of it for even more garlic flavor. If you don’t have time to roast the garlic, you can also steam the peeled cloves along with the celery-root and then combine them by mashing.

This more robust side dish is perfect with something like our Organic Rib Eye with Cabernet Balsamic Reduction.

Carrot Mashed Potatoes

To add a bit of color (and some vitamins) to your favorite side, just add carrots to your favorite mashed potato recipe. Add 1/4 pound carrots for every pound of potatoes, and you’ll end up with a naturally orange side that’s the perfect accompaniment to plainer looking mains, like Chicken Francese. Add a bit of lemon zest to the purée as a garnish, and the flavor of the carrots will really shine.

Leftovers of any mashed or puréed dish can be gratinéed. To reinvent your leftovers, simply spread the leftover purée in a baking dish and sprinkle with grated cheese. Cook at 250 degrees until the purée is warmed through, then place under the broiler to brown the cheese on top.

image: little blue hen