Healthy weeknight mashed cauliflower and easy roasted chicken

In my opinion, mashed potatoes go best with a fat celebratory birthday steak or a tall pile of Thanksgiving turkey, but they aren’t everyday food. A few years ago my eating habits were a bit different, and I wouldn’t have thought twice about plowing through a mountain of buttery spuds on a Wednesday night. Instead, I now try to keep it light on the weekdays. I would rather stick to healthier everyday meals, then save the richer stuff for the weekend. I like that keeping it simple also generally means easier to prepare, leaving more time to eat and clean up.

So instead of mashed potatoes I make mashed cauliflower. It’s a simple recipe with easy prep, and the results go so well with an equally uncomplicated roasted chicken. On this occasion, I added some leftover roasted almond crumbs to give it a nice nutty texture.

  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1 Tbs canola oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion (minced)
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup milk (1% fat content or higher)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • (optional) pinch fresh grated nutmeg
  • (optional) 1 Tbs butter

(To make the almond crumbs, simply throw a few handfuls of almonds on a baking pan and roast at 350 degrees. Stir them after 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 275 and continue roasting for another 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the almonds sit in the oven another 15 minutes. Take them out, let them fully cool, then either chop them in a food processor, or throw them in a plastic bag and crush with a meat mallet. Add a pinch of some large-flake kosher salt.)

Halve the cauliflower, then cut each of these pieces into quarters. Angle your knife at 45 degrees and cut out the tough stem. Pull apart each of the quarters into several 1 inch pieces.

Heat the canola oil in a large wide pot over medium heat until it shimmers, then add the onion and saute until it becomes translucent, or about 3 minutes.

Add the cauliflower, half and half, milk, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, then bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about twelve minutes (stirring once), or until a fork easily mashes the cauliflower.

Remove from heat and tilt the pot at an angle. Fully submerge a stick blender into the deepest part of the cauliflower and liquids, then puree the contents. Stir in the optional nutmeg and butter, then sprinkle on the almond crumbs just before serving.

Perfect Roasted Chicken

From Ruhlman’s Twenty by Michael Ruhlman

  • One 3 to 4 pound chicken
  • 1 lemon and/or 1 medium onion, quartered
  • Kosher salt

About 1 hour before cooking the chicken, remove it from the refrigerator, and rinse it. Stuff the bird with the lemon or onion, or both. Salt it and set it on a plate lined with paper towels/absorbent paper.

Preheat the oven to 425°F or 450°F if your oven is clean and won’t smoke from the high temperature. Set the oven on convection if that’s an option. Put the chicken in an oven-proof frying pan and slide it into the oven.

After 45 minutes, check the color of the juices. If they run red, return the chicken to the oven and check it again in 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving.

Serve as an uncomplicated dinner for two to three people with the mashed cauliflower.

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