Creamy Vegan Mashed Cauliflower

by Gena on November 30, 2010

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Hey guys! Glad you liked M’s smoothie, and thanks for the nice remarks about my photos. When they do happen to look good, it’s a happy accident; I’m a food photography novice. Maybe one day I’ll fix that.


Before I get down to today’s recipe, I wanted to share the tremendously exciting news that I’m one of seven women featured in Kathy’s incredible Veggie Girl Power Series.

Each year, Kathy interviews seven notable vegan or vegetarian women about their lives, their work, and their roads to plant-based lifestyles. I was a rapt reader of last year’s series, which included interviews with some of my culinary idols, including Sarma Melngailis, Chloe Jo Berman, and my girl Kristen of Kristen’s Raw. So it came as a shock—albeit it a welcome one!—that Kathy wanted me to be one of this year’s Veggie Power Girls. To be in the company of Susan from Fat Free Vegan, Chef Chloe Coscarelli, and my friend Ani Phyo is such an honor!

In the interview, Kathy describes me as “anything but ‘quiet’” and as someone who “who speaks her mind without hesitation.” Kathy, dear, I think this is your very gentle way of saying that I’m loud and opinionated. And I love it :)

I’m the first featured Veggie Power Girl this year, and my interview is up today. In it, I answer such burning questions as:

  • What’s the first thing you eat each day?
  • Who are some of the people who have inspired you?
  • How do you respond to attacks or negative criticism?

To read my answers, please check out the interview here, and don’t forget to check back for the other interviews in the series!


You may have noticed that mashed cauliflower is a somewhat trendy recipe these days. It’s meant to be a substitute for mashed potatoes, and it’s ostensibly more healthy because it’s lower cal, lower in carbs, and so on. Of course, there’s no denying that cauliflower is less caloric than white potatoes, but any recipe that sells itself as “low-carb” tends to set off alarm bells with me—I spend a lot of time reassuring people that carbs aren’t the enemy! It’s also hard to marvel at the novelty of cauliflower mash because we raw food lovers have been using cauliflower as a potato replacement for ages now. Remember my famous raw “steak and potatoes”? In that recipe, cauliflower and cashews blend together to mimic mashed potatoes (except they end up tasting way better).

I’ve always been curious about cooked mashed cauliflower: how is it different from the raw version? Better? Worse? When I saw that M had an extra head of cauliflower at home this past weekend, I decided I’d give the cooked recipe a whirl. I have to say, it turned out nicely; so nicely that I made it again for dinner at home tonight, tweaking it to perfection. I still like my raw mashed potatoes more than any other variation, this one included. But it’s a tight race: this recipe is comforting, homey, and very delicious. And yes: if for some crazy reason you’re terrified of carbs, this is probably a recipe for you.

Really, though, I’d prefer it if you made nice with carbs. They’re your friends. I promise.

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Mashed Cauliflower (serves 2-3)


1 small or medium head of cauliflower, washed, trimmed, and chopped roughly
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp almond or rice milk (soy creamer if you want this super decadent)
2 tbsp Earth Balance
Dash black pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil (enough to cook all of the cauliflower) with a dash of salt. When the water boils, you can either boil or steam the cauliflower till it’s tender.

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Drain it, and transfer it to a food processor.

2) Pulse until the cauliflower is broken down in the processor.

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Add the garlic, salt, earth balance, and, with the motor now running, add your two tablespoons of almond milk.

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If the mix isn’t blending, try scraping the bowl and starting again a few times. If it’s still not blending, add a touch more almond milk. In the end, you want it to be this light and smooth:

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3) Add a dash of pepper and the thyme, and pulse till incorporated.

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Serve hot!

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It’s a great side dish, or even a good snack, but tonight I wanted mine to take center stage. I served it with some raw, marinated portobellos (check out this post for my favorite raw mushroom marinade) and some raw kale salad. It was delicious and comforting:

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This past Saturday night, I had served the mash with Susan’s infamous and appropriately seasonal green bean casserole. I followed the recipe pretty closely, but I substituted vegan-friendly wine for the sherry. More significantly, I didn’t used the French fried onions. Instead, I caramelized a nice big batch of them. Note to onion haters like me: caramelizing is the best way to make onions user-friendly! They get so sweet and mellow. To do it, simply chop about four onions and begin sautéing them on high heat with about 1-2 tbsp of coconut oil:

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After about ten minutes, when they’re soft and starting to turn translucent and brown, add about a half teaspoon of salt and two teaspoons of brown sugar. Keep sautéing over medium heat for about thirty minutes, watching closely as they get more and more brown:

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When these were totally caramel colored and turning mushy, I substituted them for the can of fried onions in Susan’s recipe, and baked according to directions. The casserole, along with my mashed cauliflower and some of M’s pressure cooker wild rice, made for a really special dinner:

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I hope this post has been full of all sorts of inspiration: inspiration in the form of Veggie Girl Power, and inspiration in the kitchen. With plenty of cauliflower still left in farmers’ markets (mine, anyway), this is a great time to get mashing!

Till tomorrow,


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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Paige@ RunningAroundNormal November 30, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Congrats on the interview! How exciting :D
That cauliflower mash sounds amazing. As soon as I run out of real mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving, I’ll make this ;)


melissa @ the delicate place November 30, 2010 at 3:19 pm

nom. vegan mashed cauliflower made it’s way onto my thanksgiving table. i used almond milk, EVOO, roasted garlic and parsley in mine.2 large heads were consumed by the 6 of us! cute article!


KRISTEN'S RAW November 30, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Can’t wait to read your interview. Loud, opinionated… yes and I LOVE IT – especially when you swear. ;)



Gena November 30, 2010 at 3:25 pm

Knew you would appreciate that one, friend :-D


Elle November 30, 2010 at 3:35 pm

OK sorry if this is off-topic, but I just read your lovely Veggie Girl Power interview (congrats!) and I thought of a vegan-but-not-food-related question. Would love your recommendation on stylish vegan purses/bags. I’d like to ditch the leather habit, and have no idea where to start and I like your style.


Christin@purplebirdblog November 30, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Lovely recipe!!

“Really, though, I’d prefer it if you made nice with carbs. They’re your friends. I promise.”

I am so glad that carbs and I are BFF these days. Life is too short to live without delicious carbs!


Jennifer@ knackfornutrition November 30, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Congrats on your interview!! Those are some big names! :)

I’m so excited for you! I can’t wait to check it out!


bitt November 30, 2010 at 3:53 pm

I too have wondered what it would be like to eat mashed cooked cauliflower after having the raw version. Interesting to hear your take on it. I think I’d rather just go for the real potatoes since I eat it so infrequently.

Lovely interview! And great to know about the series. I appreciate your respect for Ingrid Newkirk but I don’t know if you realize just how many companion animals PETA is responsible for killing. It’s not necessary and it makes them very hated among companion-animal loving circles.

-from another opinionated and outspoken person


Gena November 30, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Opinionated person, your opinions are always welcome here! I actually didn’t know about the killings you reference — aside from some occasional exasperation with email volume, I’ve always had a really positive take on PETA. So, feel free to inform your friend :)


bitt November 30, 2010 at 4:14 pm

They euthanize on a large scale:

They’re also pro breed bans, which pisses off lots of people as well.

Not to mention their welfarist approach versus taking a stance on the abolition of animal use altogether.

I can’t stand that people think of PETA first when they think of animal issues. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve done some good, but they have also done harm.


Gena November 30, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Thanks B!

Really glad you shared, and I’m going to research this more.

I understand your fury that PETA and animal rights are synonymous, given these facts. From my point of view, as someone who “discovered” AR (or rather, cultivated enough humanity to understand them) late in the vegan game, I found PETA to be really galvanizing and inspiring. The sheer level of effort and energy impressed me deeply at a moment when I needed a push. I took a lot away from them as someone who was thirsty for information, for inspiration, and for a reminder not to compromise. I see Ingrid as the face of PETA, hence the admiration from afar.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve really studied the organization from top to bottom, and it’s really easy to miss this kind of fact. So, as ever, I appreciate YOU for not compromising, and for sharing what you know.



debra November 30, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Gena, I’m another vegan appalled by PETA/Newkirk’s pretty shameless use of misogyny and racism to sell animal rights – see for a good summary
and infamously

debra November 30, 2010 at 7:19 pm

This comment is not for publication – but I just wanted to draw your attention to this body-shaming aspect of a lot of PETA’s recent campaigning (openly supported by Newkirk)

Lindsay December 3, 2010 at 9:25 am

Hi Bitt – I’m a little late to this comment, I apologize. But I did want to point out that PETA openly acknowledges that they euthanize animals on their website:

Their rationale is that it’s compassionate since most animals will never be adopted – and that many of the animals they put down are incredibly sick and diseased. Obviously there’s no easy answer here (I dont think) but they are open about their policy, if you wanted to learn more about it.


Gena December 3, 2010 at 11:22 am

Thanks for chiming in, Lindsay, this is helpful.

Kelly Michelle November 30, 2010 at 4:30 pm

You posted this just in time! I have been dying to make that recipe of Susan’s for about a year now (I’m a little behind) but actually bought the green beans to make it earlier this week after being reinspired by Thanksgiving. I was debating just leaving off the fried onions because I didn’t really want to use them but your solution of using caramelized onions is fantastic!!


Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg November 30, 2010 at 4:39 pm

How cool!! I can’t wait to check out your interview, and the others as well! I always listen to Carolyn’s Healthy Voyager podcasts as I walk our dogs!


Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) November 30, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Congrats on being featured as one of Seven awesome women! Being in the company of Kristen, Ani, Sarma…wow, very cool and huge pat on the back! I am off to read your interview next…

But first, the cauli mash looks great. I have never really gotten into making mashed cauli as a substitute for mashed potatoes. When Skylar was a baby, I’d steam cauli and just mash it with a fork, that’s as close to a cauli mash as I’ve gotten :) Your version looks great…and thanks for the relink to those marinated ‘shrooms! I NEED to make those. Yum!

What a lovely post of casseroles, mashes, and good things in your life…job well done, Miss Gena!



melissa November 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm

congrats, well deserved!


jenny November 30, 2010 at 7:49 pm

i had raw cauli mash for the first time in ages just a few days ago….! as delicious as i remembered it last. i should give this cooked one a try. i don’t think i’ve ever had cooked cauli!


Christine (The Raw Project) November 30, 2010 at 8:07 pm

Congrats, that’s awesome about Veggie Girl Power! I will be a reader this year! And the cauliflower recipe looks wonderful, perfect to try over the holidays. Thanks!


Mama Pea November 30, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Look at you, Superstar! I knew you had it in you. And that you are NOT quiet. :)


Gena November 30, 2010 at 10:33 pm

You’ve heard me on the phone. You know.


BroccoliHut November 30, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I love mashed cauliflower, not for its similarity to mashed potatoes but rather for its own flavor and texture. I have plans to experiment with a purple cauliflower this week!


Ashlei November 30, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Great interview! What are some of your favorite uses for the Vega Vanilla Chai? I’ve only tried the chocolate and the berry.
The mashed cauliflower is a great idea too.


Gena November 30, 2010 at 10:31 pm

I like it in any smoothie! I’ll also use it in chia seed puddings.


Natalie November 30, 2010 at 9:20 pm

Congratulations on the awesome interview!


MarathonVal November 30, 2010 at 11:07 pm

I’ve made mashed cauliflower before, but never your raw version…. I have some cauliflower in my fridge now and I’m tempted to do it but a bit reluctant due to the fact that the last raw cauliflower soup I made was a bit of a flop. You make it sound so delicious, I think I may finally give the raw version a try!


Elizabeth December 1, 2010 at 12:06 am

Hi Gena!
I just read your interview-it was an enjoyable read! One thing that particularly struck and inspired me was when you mentioned your outspoken attitude about your veganism. As someone who tends to worry about the impression I make on omnis;worrying about sounding strange, hearing about your approach is motivates me to do the same. Hurrah for unapologetic veganism!


Ela December 1, 2010 at 2:28 am

Congrats on the interview – look at you there, right next to Ani and looking just right! I’ll have to go read it, haven’t yet.

Inspiring post in general, for sure. I love mashed cauliflower, both raw and cooked, but just now I’m just starting to make nice with carbs and think it’s a good thing too.

I grew some lovely cauliflowers up here this year: had to just eat them raw, they were so good. But I have done cooked mashed cauliflower with just leeks, a bit of thyme and a bit of nut milk – so good!

Looking forward to reading your interview!


Casey December 1, 2010 at 2:56 am

Mmm yum, cauliflower is one of my fave veggies! I make a very similar version to this but use a little macadamia nut oil at the end and it is DIVINE.
Thanks Gena xx


tweal December 1, 2010 at 8:15 am

Congrats on being featured in the interviews! I am heading over to read it shortly.

But first I just had to say that I love mashed cauliflower! I was hesitant to make it for a long time because I was convinced it wouldn’t taste good, but I am so happy I went on a limb that one day and tried it. It’s so comforting without being heavy.


Tina December 1, 2010 at 12:08 pm

I made mashed cauliflower just the other day! I’m not a potato-kinda gal so the cauliflower replacement is perfect!
Awesome interview (and yes, I was surpised you didn’t say green juice!) :)


Kirsty December 1, 2010 at 12:31 pm

What is earth balance? I haven’t heard of it, is it American?


Coco December 1, 2010 at 12:40 pm

This look so creamy and lovely. I’m not raw or vegan but you inspire me to stuff myself with more fruits and veg and possibly, someday, consider a vegan lifestyle. Congrats on your success!


Catherine December 1, 2010 at 2:11 pm

I love cauliflower mash! I usually use a hand-masher because I like a little bumpy texture in mine. Delicious.


Dorry December 1, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Your plated meal looks lovely. I’m such a big fan of mushrooms. I think this meal would be a perfect example to a skeptic that vegan food choices are versatile and can be hearty. Someone recently asked me if vegans only ate vegetables and I realized that there must be so many unknowing people out there. I love that your blog spreads the word.


elise December 2, 2010 at 7:27 pm

oh gena, what would i ever do without your loud opinionated self. i truly adore each and every post more than the last. you definitely deserve to be in the veggie power girl series. cant wait to check it out!


Gena December 2, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Oh Elise, what would I do without your loud opinionated comments, or without your friendship, or without all of the incredible and thoughtful commentary you always give me? You are truly the best.


Pure2raw twins December 3, 2010 at 11:30 am

Congrats girl! We will check out your interview : )

I still need to make marinated mushrooms!!


Steph December 18, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I just made the cauliflower mash, and it’s wonderful!! Thanks for the recipe, Gena!

Do you think this would freeze okay? I’d like to bring it as part of my holiday dinner next weekend


Beth April 17, 2012 at 9:55 pm

I didn’t have any black pepper or thyme on hand but I did add some rosemary!! this was delicious!! I don’t see a reason to eat real mashed potatoes ever again <3


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