In need of mashed potatoes for the holiday table, but looking to avoid potatoes? Or maybe you’re just over potatoes and looking for something fresh? You’re in luck! You have an abundance of seasonal winter vegetables to mash up instead. All you need are some good veggie picks, a bit of fat and liquid, and tasty seasonings. Here’s how to make mashed potatoes with any vegetable.
Cook the vegetables
Most vegetables can be easily mashed, as long as they have a relative degree of starch in them. Root vegetables and winter squash of all persuasions are top picks, as they mash well and have a familiar potato-like flavor (or at least compliment potato flavors). Consider the following root vegetables and squashes for your base:
- Celery root
- Sweet potatoes
- Butternut squash
- Acorn squash
- Kabocha squash
- Onions, garlic, and ginger (only in smaller quantities as a seasoning!)
- Cauliflower (though not a root vegetable or squash, cauliflower is another vegetable that happens to mash really well!)
Then you might consider a second or third non-root or squash vegetable to add to the mix in smaller quantities, which wouldn’t serve to be fluffy and mashed, but to lend add interesting color or texture to the dish:
- Brussels sprouts
Once you’ve chosen your vegetables, cook them until soft. Typically they’re cubed and boiled until fork-tender—as with making mashed potatoes—but you can also steam or roast them first. Starting with roasted vegetables with give you a more textured, chunky dish with a more savory, rustic flavor, while steamed or boiled vegetables will give you a more traditional smooth and creamy result. Your call.
When using onions, garlic, and/or ginger in your mashed vegetables, chop them up finely so they cook evenly with the rest of your vegetables and break down well when you mash the dish later.
Add some seasonings
Once your vegetables are cooked, drain any leftover cooking water (if steamed or boiled) and place vegetables in a pot or large bowl. Next, you’re going to season your vegetables. Traditional seasonings for mashed potatoes include:
- Mustard (powder or prepared)
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Dried or fresh rosemary
- Dried or fresh thyme
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Whole roasted garlic cloves
- Chopped fresh chives
Non-traditional seasonings can be anything you like! Chili powder, nutmeg, parmesan cheese, whatever your heart desires.
Add fat and liquid
Here’s where it gets interesting. You’re going to add fat and liquid to taste. Traditional add-ins here are butter, milk/creamer, and often sour cream. By no means are these exact ingredients mandatory. You simply need something with a bit of fat for creating smoothness and cohesion in the vegetables, and something with liquid to help them break down and mash. Any of the following add ins will work:
- Olive oil
- Sour cream (dairy or non-dairy)
- Yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)
- Milk, whipping cream, or half and half (dairy or non-dairy)
- Water (not ideal, but certainly doable)
- Leftover soup (Have leftover chicken, broccoli cheddar, or other soup? Add a few splashes to your vegetables for a spunk of flavor and texture!)
Remember this: It’s very easy to go overboard with the liquids—broth, milk, water—in your recipe, since you only need just enough liquid to be help break down your vegetables as you mash them. One splash too many, and you’ve suddenly got mashed vegetable soup. In other words, be conservative with your liquids.
Whichever fats/liquids you play around with, start with a very small amount, because you’re going to add more once you start mashing.
Now comes the fun part: mashing. Any large fork or handheld potato masher will do the trick just fine. You have all of your ingredients in the pot, with just a bit of fat/liquid, so start mashing. Add more fat/liquid as needed to get your vegetables mashed down to your desired thickness and creaminess.
You can also toss the whole thing in a food processor and pulse the mixture to mash it, but personally I find that this gets things too mashed, too liquidy, too fast. But certainly it’s an option, and some people even prefer their mashed vegetables to be completely smooth and homogenous. If that’s you, you may do better with food processing your vegetables.
Once you get your vegetables to desired consistency, taste for seasonings and adjust as need be. Then dig in!
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