Healthy Thanksgiving Recipe: Mashed Cauliflower and Parsnips with Roasted Garlic

November 18, 2011

By Lana Buseman

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If you ask anyone in my family, they will tell you that I am the mashed potato queen on Thanksgiving. It is definitely my favorite side dish, and I could probably eat it for my main course and be happy. So, as far as “mashed potato alternatives” go, I am probably one of the biggest critics around.

I have heard many times that mashed cauliflower can be a potato substitute because it has a similar texture and flavor. I don’t agree with that idea: it's definitely not the same as mashed potatoes. Cauliflower brings its own unique flavors, however, and can be a tasty part of your Thanksgiving feast, especially if you are looking for something a little lighter this year.

Cauliflower is part of the same family as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage and is a very good source of Vitamin C as well as fiber and folate.  It is low in fat and lacks the starch of potatoes, which makes it a nice alternative to the spud. Cauliflower is often seen as the white version of broccoli, but it also comes in orange and purple!

The other main component in this mashed veggie dish is the parsnip. Parsnips are a very close cousin to carrots but are usually white and have a sweeter flavor. The parsnip is also higher in vitamins and minerals than its orange family member, and is a great source of potassium and fiber.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 2 heads of cauliflower, stems removed and chopped
  • 2-3 small parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • ½ head of roasted garlic
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ cup skim milk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons ground pecorino cheese

Rinse and chop the cauliflower and parsnips and put them in a steamer over medium heat. Steam until the veggies can be easily pierced with a fork.

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While your cauliflower and parsnips are steaming, roast your garlic. To do this, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut off the top of the garlic head but leave the peel intact. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the exposed garlic and wrap in tin foil. Roast the garlic for about 30 minutes.

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Once the garlic is done, squeeze the cloves into a bowl with the cauliflower and parsnips. Add the butter, milk, salt and pepper and mash together using a fork or potato masher.

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Pour the mashed veggies into a glass baking dish and sprinkle breadcrumbs and cheese over the top. Bake in a 350 degree oven until the top is browned and serve. 

Happy Thanksgiving!