While I was making cauliflower puree yesterday I recalled one of the more ridiculous things I’ve ever cooked, a cauliflower sandwich from Nancy Silverton’s sandwich book.*
The sandwich filling consisted of cauliflower that had been simmered in cream, pureed, and topped with browned butter and toasted hazelnuts. Then there were a number of other steps that I don’t recall, among them how it was eventually assembled into a sandwich.
It was interesting and it tasted good, but it was so over the top. The appeal of pureed cauliflower, to me anyway, is that it doesn’t need browned butter and toasted hazelnuts and cream. For a special occasion, sure, a dash of one or a sprinkling of the other wouldn’t be egregious. But in its most basic form, with just the addition of the salted water its been steamed in, there is a silky lusciousness to pureed cauliflower that is nearly as unbelievable as the fact that I once spent over an hour making a cauliflower sandwich.
A more generous hand with the cooking water results in a puree that’s akin to soft-set polenta, making it a suitable bed for a braised meat; a drier puree tends more toward mashed potato consistency, a nice complement to grilled sausage and a green salad.
One small head cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
Bring a couple of inches of salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Steam the cauliflower florets for 10-15 minutes, or until very tender.
Remove the florets from the heat, reserving the cooking water. Once they’ve cooled, puree them in a food processor or blender, adding the cooking water a little at a time until the puree reaches your desired consistency.
*Though I’m poking fun at this one, all of the recipes I’ve tried from the sandwich book were excellent (and many of them were much simpler). It’s a good niche cookbook to have in your collection.