Creamy Cauliflower and Millet Mash, with a Dollop of Pesto

by Gena on March 21, 2012


A few weeks ago, I had dinner with my buddy Brendan, and reviewed our meal here. We ate at Mana Organic in NYC, and one of the highlights of our meal was a cauliflower millet mash. It was as if someone had invented a dish specifically for me, and people who eat like me. Millet? Cauliflower? Mushy food? Yes please. I resolved then and there to re-create it on the blog, and today, I did.

And it was good.


This is one of those rare recipes in which I love the taste of garlic—somehow, it adds exactly the right note along with the dollop of pesto and the creamy mash. I would imagine that nutritional yeast would also be great in here, as would thyme, oregano, or rosemary. I kept things simple as an homage to the Mana recipe, but you can certainly go crazy with varieties of herbs and spices.

An important divergence from the Mana recipe: they use, I’m almost certain, silken tofu to achieve the creamy texture in their dish. I like silken tofu, but mainly for sweeter stuff—chocolate pudding, that sort of thing. In savory dishes, I find that it can be a little bland, and sometimes shadow flavors from shining through (not always, but sometimes). So instead of that, I used cashew cream. This not only yielded a more flavorful dish, but it also allowed me to keep the recipe creamy without adding oil or Earth Balance at the end; I know my no-oil readers will appreciate that! And for my part, I didn’t miss the flavor of Earth Balance at all; this recipe is delicious, just the way it is.


Cauliflower and Millet Mash (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Makes about 4 cups, or 6-8 servings

1/2 cup cashews, soaked
Juice of 1 lemon
Scant 1/4 cup water
3 cups chopped cauliflower florets, steamed
1 1/2 cups millet, cooked
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
1/4 tsp sea salt

Optional: Dollop of Choosing Raw pesto

1) Place cashews in a food processor. Process with water, lemon, and sea salt till smooth.

2) Add cauliflower and garlic. Process till smooth.

3) Add millet, and process until practically smooth, but with some texture remaining. Adjust the consistency with almond milk or water if you want it a little thinner; alternatively, pulse in more cooked millet if you want it thicker. Serve with a dollop of pesto, and swirl it in as you eat!


Absolutely wonderful. Hope you make this recipe, and love it.

Before I go: did you guys see that The New York Times is hosting an essay contest for an ethical argument for meat eating? I have to admit, when I first saw this, I was a little troubled; I wasn’t sure why the Times felt the need to call meat eating a “basic daily practice” (it’s obviously not a basic daily practice in many cultures all the world over), and in some ways I wondered why they felt the need to combat so many thoughtful pieces on the humane benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets lately (see: Mark Bittman on the human cost of animal suffering) with an avowal of carnism.

Then I saw that the Times made a very important disclaimer: no arguments for meat eating that rest on the grounds that a) meat eating is “deeply ingrained in our habit or culture or cuisine” or b) that “it’s nutritious or that it’s just part of the natural order.” These are the two arguments I most commonly hear in favor of meat eating. From my perspective, these are flawed arguments at worst; at best, they can be seen as a way of justifying the consumption of meat, but they don’t give us an ethical reason why we should. And so I look forward to seeing what people write—especially since Peter Singer is judging!

What do you guys think? And what do you think of creamy cauliflower deliciousness? I’m all about a range of inquiries tonight.


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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Hannah March 21, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Whoa…interesting contest going on. I’m curious to see what people write too, since I never hear reasons for meat eating other than the typical ones you bolded. I’m sure a lot of interesting debate will unfold, as it always does with the Times!

Now, Gena, I hope you don’t take offense to this – cause I find this criticism rather silly and trivial – but the shape of the pesto is rather off-putting; it sort of looks like a slug. Maybe that is because of the way you squeeze it? I hope you don’t mind my honesty, and you don’t have to change the way you squeeze pesto on your dishes just because I think it looks funny, but I thought I’d give you my opinion, as silly as it is!


bitt March 21, 2012 at 9:51 pm

ha ha I didn’t see it that way but then read this then went back to look and i’m seeing the little critter now. ;-)


Gena March 21, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Ha! I have my pesto in a squeeze bottle right now, and that’s just what came out. I photograph my food in an awful rush these days…


Hannah March 21, 2012 at 10:45 pm

And by golly I am continuously impressed by your photography skills as a post-bacc student! It’s also nice to have the Hobbit House scenery as your backdrop, too :)


Amanda March 22, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I saw the same thing when i first looked at it…but i thought it look like something less appetizing than a slug. Sorry Gena, i’m sure it’s delicious. Cauliflower and Millet mash sounds like something i’d really enjoy, as mashed cauliflower is great :)


Julie March 24, 2012 at 11:17 pm

it reminded me of when the geese are out…definitely off putting visually, but the whole dish sounds delicious and I’m looking forward to trying it this week


bitt March 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I thought Carol Adams had a good point, no women judges, unfair. I think it’s sort of a sign that meat eaters are being put to task on their reasoning, but it’s going to bring out some crazies for sure.

Love this idea for a cauli-mash! I can’t really do raw cauliflower so I appreciate that this has other raw elements but the cauliflower is mashed. You are killing me with the pesto, obviously I am really craving some.


Ali March 21, 2012 at 9:58 pm

I think that this is another one of your awesome cooked food dinners that has raw cuisine inspiration! Love it. I also love the idea that it does not have any processed fat added to it. Lovely. I understand that it is important to have dialogue in our society, but trying to justify killing things for food, when we know for a fact you can be a very well nourished person who does not have to eat things that were killed, is still offensive to me a little.


Gena March 21, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Beautifully said, Ali.


Ela March 21, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Yum to the mash–I favor that kind of texture too. It sounds yummy, and so amenable to herbing, as you said, but I imagine a curry version (with maybe some chopped veggies scattered through) would be delightful too.

As for the essay contest, wow–that seems kind of counter-cultural, almost, except that one strand of Michael Pollan’s and many other food writers’ thinking definitely lends itself toward arguments for eating animals. A fascinating idea, so long as it doesn’t do any glorifying.


Gena March 21, 2012 at 10:06 pm


Good point. I think that Pollan’s work does more justification than lending a reason; I’ve never found, in his books, a reason why it’s ethically imperative to eat animals. Most of what I’ve taken away are (his) justifications of the habit, which isn’t quite the same, you know?



Ela March 21, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Yes, I guess you’re right–he’s not talking ethical imperatives; he’s talking something more atavistic than that…


Gena March 21, 2012 at 10:18 pm

Absolutely. And I must confess, it’s a line of rhetoric that simply does not speak to me at all…we as a culture have disavowed so many ancestral habits, or modified them, for very good reasons.


Ela March 21, 2012 at 10:59 pm

It’s a line of rhetoric that I’ve found very appealing in the past, partly because of my back-to-the-land lifestyle choices at different times, partly because of my study of Classical Literature. However, living it ended up showing me that it’s illogical, inconsistent, and unrealistic. Graphically demonstrated as such. Really, it all amounts to throwing the baby out with the bathwater and suspecting or dismissing all progress.

Averie @ Averie Cooks March 21, 2012 at 10:16 pm

I haven’t made pesto in ages…you made me want to whip some up!


Lou March 21, 2012 at 11:16 pm

Millet “mash” like this is one of my son’s favourite meals… I usually chuck some nutritional yeast + white pepper in, but I love your addition of cashew cream… comfort food at it’s finest!


Christine (The Raw Project) March 21, 2012 at 11:25 pm

This mash looks wonderful, especially with the pesto. Oh, thanks for reminding me it’s time to replant basil in our garden. :-)


janet @ the taste space March 21, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Looks like a great millet mash, Gena! I like how you added cashews to it… my version has more cauliflower in it and I spiced it with leeks and wasabi… but I will have to try it with lemon and garlic now. :)


Nicki @ ChenaRaw March 22, 2012 at 2:39 am

Whoa! I’m really curious to read the essays submitted to the contest.


jenny March 22, 2012 at 3:06 am

hmm, very interesting point in your second last paragraph


Ellani March 22, 2012 at 4:07 am

What kind of millet do you use here? Where I live there are two kinds, I kind of ground millet that cooks up into a porridge or whole millet? Recipe looks really delicious, though I agree that the shape of the pesto is…ahem!

Isn’t ethical meat eating really a contradiction in terms?


Alexia @ NamasteYoga March 22, 2012 at 4:53 am

the creamy cauliflower recipe looks delicious! I would have never thought to add cooked millet to the recipe. I definitely prefer cashews to silken tofu though!

The contest sounds interesting. It seems that in the last couple of years more and more contradictory opinions about what to eat and what not, what is ethical, right and wrong etc. Rather than finding your personal balance and ethics people seem to fight for the only thing that they think is right, and that is often JUST oONE opinion- or ONE way of doing things.


Jill Ziegler March 22, 2012 at 12:02 pm

This sounds yummy, and a great way to use my spare cashew cream from your zucchini noodle/tomato/pepper recipe the other day. I made that last night and it was delicious! My husband loved it and wants me to make it for a bday dinner this weekend :) we ran out of tempeh so I sautéed tofu cubes instead… So good!


Francoise March 22, 2012 at 12:17 pm

Gena, Do you think it would work with quinoa instead of millet?


the delicate place March 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm

two things, 1. i have that bowl & 2. we must be on the same page today! a couple days ago i made cauli mash & added some leftover ground flaxseed i had and it thickened my mash quite a bit! i really like the nutty addition!


Hannah March 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Is the 1 1/2 cups millet measured before or after it’s cooked?
Looks yum, even the little green slug ;) (that’s as close as I’ll get to eating an animal whatever “ethical” contortions anyone can make up)

Reply March 22, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Cauliflower and millet mash is genius!!! Making it!


Quay March 23, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Hey Gena

Long-time reader and 1st time commenter. Funny I choose to do so here. Not a fan of mushy food or slug pesto (but love cauliflower & basil. More recipes please!!)

I am an on again: off again vegetarian and vegan. Hard to justify the ‘off again’ status. A family that doesn’t understand. Not enough attention to getting the right nutrients meaning my health suffers a bit at times. Both poor excuses. Yet I recite them to myself too often.

Every time I slip back into eating animal products, reality slaps me in the face. Recent example: I have just finished reading the latest Quarterly Essay – an amazing 25000 word (or so) journal published every 3 months (duh!) and written by an Australian on a topic of personal importance.

The current topic: “Us and Them: on the importance of animals” is beautifully explored by Anna Krien. She eats animal products I understand. Her essay is heart breakingly compassionate and delves into the befuddlement of our relationship with other animals and, as an aside, ‘other’ people. Mass market meat from a resource rich (and generally just rich) country consumed by our neighbours; hunting predators to protect sources of meat and income; meddling with the balance between species to make ‘nature’ safer for us; the human benefits and general travesty of animal testing; our wilful ignorance when it comes to understanding the pain ‘animals’ experience (note: this includes pain experienced by American slaves and indigenous Australians….’cause ‘once upon a time’ we thought them not human) All I know are wrong and uncomfortable and all I know I support by just being here. I can lighten the load by my choices…… but not much. Our society is based on an understanding that the life of a non-human animal is worth so little in any terms but economic. %$#@# (aka this makes me irreconcilably angry).

I find comfort in chipping away.


Quay March 23, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Correction: all those grammatical error plus irreconcilably vs ‘I find comfort..’. Complete nonsense, but you know what I mean.


Quay March 23, 2012 at 8:00 pm

errors!!!! I mean errors…
Give up now. Please.


Robyn March 30, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Delish…had this for supper on top of a bed of spinach(always trying to get more greens in) added a sliced tomato and a few mushrooms and a light sprinkle of bnutritional yeast,,,so glad there’s leftovers<3 thx


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