Make Ahead

Cauliflower and Parsnip Puree with Calvados Shallots

October  2, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Sometimes I like a vegetable puree as an alternative to mashed potatoes. Cauliflower alone can have a watery consistency, so adding potatoes can help with this. I add parsnips for their flavor, which is fragrant. But be careful not to add too many, and be restrained with the other seasonings as well, so that they support the flavor of the cauliflower and don’t overpower it. Calvados worked its way into this recipe simply because I was making it to go along side of Chicken with Apples and Calvados Cream, so on a whim I threw some Calvados onto the shallots and I liked what it did to them. - SallyCan —SallyCan

Test Kitchen Notes

The recipe is a wonderful conjunction of autumn flavors, balanced so that the delicate cauliflower is not overwhelmed. As my food processor is missing a disk, I mashed it up like potatoes. It was slightly lumpy but delicious. I think it's the kind of recipe that would be suave if smooth. Calvados works great with shallots. The only thing I would add next time is maybe some pickled red onions on the top to add color and a tiny bit of crunch, or some frizzled shallots. Thanks for a great recipe, SallyCan! – luvcookbooks —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 3 bay leaves (If you have fresh bay leaves, use them. If you don’t, try to find yourself a nice plant to keep in your kitchen window or patio!)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 medium parsnips, about 1c, peeled and cut into 1” pieces. (If the inner core is very hard, remove it or it might have trouble passing through the ricer)
  • 2 small potatoes, about 1 c, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 small head cauliflower, core removed, stems and florets cut into 2” pieces, about 4 c
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 or 3 shallots, about 1/3 c, rough or fine mince, whichever you prefer
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 T Calvados
  • 1 - 2T butter
  • 1/3 – ½ c heavy cream, warmed
  1. Fill a large pot with about 2 quarts of water. You’ll want to have enough to cover all of your vegetables when they’re added. Add bay leaves and garlic. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add parsnips, lower heat, and simmer for 2 minutes or so.
  3. Add potatoes, lower heat, and simmer for 5 or 10 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften, but are still firm when pierced with a fork.
  4. Add cauliflower and simmer until all vegetables are very soft.
  5. While vegetables are cooking, prepare shallots. In a small pan melt 3T butter. Add shallots, sprinkle with kosher salt, and cover and cook on very low heat until they are soft, but not brown. Remove from heat and add Calvados, distributing evenly. Cook again on low heat for a minute or two, stirring gently, until it is absorbed into the shallots. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Drain cauliflower, parsnips, potatoes and garlic. Remove bay leaves, and pass through a ricer with either a fine or medium disc. I prefer a chunkier puree, so I use a medium disc, but if you like it smooth, then use a fine disc. Alternatively, you could also press it through a sieve.
  7. Mix in 1 – 2 T butter and enough cream to give it a nice smooth consistency. Season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Use white pepper if you want your puree to stay white, use black pepper if you don’t mind the specks
  8. The Calvados shallots may be mixed in, or sprinkled on top.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Tbird
  • luvcookbooks
  • SallyCan
  • AntoniaJames
  • cheese1227

14 Reviews

Susan December 28, 2018
This sounds delicious.. how would I increase the ingredients to cover 6 people?
Tbird November 4, 2011
SallyCan -

I'm going to give this a shot for a dinner party tomorrow night. Hoping and thinking it will mesh really well with TasteFood's Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder with Caramelized Onion and Apple Confit . Will report in later!
luvcookbooks October 20, 2010
just recommended this in a foodpickle about weeknight meals for busy families, i'm so lucky i got to test it!!
SallyCan October 6, 2010
Thanks for all of the nice responses. I hope you will try the recipe and that you'll enjoy it.Though I really do prefer cream and butter, if you'd like a lighter version, milk works fine, and you can cut some or all of the butter with olive oil.
luvcookbooks October 5, 2010
I always keep Calvados around because I love it with pork dishes. Btw, I got the lard for the Raised Pork Pie Saturday, purchased the pork shoulder yesterday.
SallyCan October 6, 2010
I like Calvados with pork, too. It seems to go with everything in the fall.
AntoniaJames October 5, 2010
Looking at this again. It's the essence of autumn. I'm not surprised that the Calvados goes so well with the shallots . . . . another (very pleasant) iteration of apples + onions. I'm so intrigued by the cauliflower + parsnip combination, where two very strong flavored foods play off each other. I really cannot wait to try this one. Is there anything I should keep in mind when looking for the bay plant? Thank you, Sally! ;o)
SallyCan October 6, 2010
Thoughtful evaluation! In looking for a bay plant, as with any herb, I'd say to take a leaf, rub it between your fingers, and smell and taste it to make sure you like the flavor of that particular plant. Also, look for a good stalk, and signs of new growth. The fresh leaves are wonderful, and so soft and pliable yet stiff enough that you can mince them into a fine powder with a knife to mix with salt and pepper for a nice dry rub for steak.
AntoniaJames October 4, 2010
Love the recipe! Especially the instructions with respect to the first ingredient. This sounds -- and looks -- so delicious. ;o)
cheese1227 October 3, 2010
Lovely! I will have to get a bay leaf plant if you can promise me they are easy to keep alive!!
SallyCan October 6, 2010
Bay leaf plants are easy to keep alive, I promise! They can tolerate a bit of underwatering, and they last for years. I've had mine for several years. It goes outside all summer and comes in for the cool months, The leaves are so aromatic, I'm sure you won't mind taking care of it ;)
gingerroot October 2, 2010
Yum. This sounds amazing. I'm saving this and look forward to trying soon.
Sagegreen October 2, 2010
Really nice, SallyCan! I love the addition of parsnips and Calvados.
TheWimpyVegetarian October 2, 2010
Wow! This looks really great! I love to use cauliflower in place of potatoes for mashed potatoes too and like your addition of the parsnips. And what a great use of Calvados. I just happen to have some and will have to make this dish!