I never in a million years would have thought mashed cauliflower and parsnips tasted so good. I mean, yeah, I'm a huge veggie lover (obviously), but I gotta admit "mashed cauliflower" isn't exactly tempting...
Of all the things you can do with cauliflower - roast it, rice it, pizza-crust it... mashing it has gotta be the least exciting. But, you know what, this mashed cauliflower is goooooooood.
I think it's the parsnips that do it. They bring the flavor, and the root factor, which makes this feel and taste much heartier than doing mashed cauliflower on it's own.
I realize parsnips are one of those divisive vegetables - you either love em or you hate em. Haven't tried them? Well, you need to... clearly, I'm team parsnip.
Mashed Cauliflower +...
If you're not a parsnip fan, there's a lot you could do here instead. Potato, carrots, sweet potato, butternut squash, turnip, celery root, kohlrabi... pretty much any root could go in the parsnip's place.
Key here is pairing the cauliflower with another veg that has an even smoother texture and some flavor.
I chose parsnips over the other roots because it has a naturally sweet but earthy and nutty flavor, and they're sorta buttery too. Plus they're white so together with the mashed cauliflower they make a pretty white mash, reminiscent of mashed potatoes.
No Second Rate "Healthy" Side Here
I only mention the potatoes to say this is no second rate mash. I want to be careful not to call this a sub for the traditional mashed potatoes. This healthified side dish is good enough and unique enough to stand on it's own.
Last year our Thanksgiving included both... and both got gobbled up.
And it's one of those dishes that feels special like Thanksgiving, but is simple and easy enough to throw together for dinner on a random Wednesday night, too.
When I made it for this post, we had it with salmon and asparagus - all SO good together.
Speaking of healthified Thanksgiving though, this would be really good with this cranberry apple quinoa stuffing... and if you made this roasted carrot salad and subbed thyme for the seasoning it would be even more Thanksgivingy... plus carrots and parsnips are sorta meant to be together, just sayin'.
There ya go - three healthified Thanksgiving dishes that you don't even have to tell your family are "healthy" because they're just good. I love it when that happens...
A Word on Whites...
White vegetables are easy to forget about when following that age old "eat the rainbow" wisdom. But don't leave them out - they bring plenty of nutrients to the table too.
Cauliflower is one of the highest sources of vitamin C. It's also rich in choline, which is an important nutrient for brain health and recent research has shown to be linked with prevention of age-related memory loss. And what does a cauliflower kinda look like? A BRAIN!
I see what you did there, Mother Nature. 😉
Parsnips are a root so they're grown in the ground which makes them a good source of minerals - here particularly manganese. They're also high in vitamin C and fiber.
In general other white vegetables (turnips, rutabaga, potatoes) are a good source of minerals and rich in vitamin C too. And in the case of things like onion and garlic they're anti-microbial and have extra fighting power to ward of sickness - just when we need all that protection the most.
Mother Nature's Got Your Back
I sort of love the beauty in how all these things with all the vitamin C, minerals, anti-bacterial/anti-viral - they grow just when we need them the most, when the weather turns colder and it gets easier to get sick.
I mean, when you think about it, how cool is that?! Stick with her and you can't go wrong.
Dairy-Free Mashed Cauliflower + Parsnips
- 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
- 1 small head cauliflower, cut in florets
- extra-virgin olive oil
- sea salt or pink Himalaya salt
- black pepper
- In a medium-sized pot, put water to fill just about 1-2" inches. Place steamer basket in pot and add chopped parsnips and cauliflower to fill. Heat water to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook until vegetables soften enough to be able to pierce with a fork - about 10-15 minutes.
- When done, transfer steamed parsnips and cauliflower to a large bowl. Add olive oil and mash using a potato masher. Season generously with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Add more olive oil if you like, too.
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Tell us what you think?
If you make this mashed cauliflower with parsnips or anything else, come back here and let us know what you think in the comments. Be sure to tell us how it turns out and/or if you do something different. Do tell!
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Megan Adams Brown, CHC, helps people take charge of their health and to start listening to themselves over the latest diet trend to optimize their own wellness, happiness and potential. Her family-friendly meal plans help parents take charge in the kitchen, too. This leads to more vegetables, less junk, and happier, healthier kids and parents. Megan shares kid-approved, allergy-friendly recipes on her blog. To learn more click here.