Autumnal Mash

Week after week, I’ve been making recipe after recipe for cauliflower “rice” in my effort to hone the culinary use of this low-carb substitution. Many of the recipes were refreshing and light-tasting for these last balmy days before the weather changes definitively for the chilly. But as the first weekend of October ushered in a few days of unmistakable BRRRR, I found myself wanting to revert to an ages old favorite… the mash!

Do the mash... the root vegetable mash!

Do the mash… the root vegetable mash!

Of course, my erstwhile love affair with the mash was in the form of mashed potatoes. Back in the olden days of the 80’s and early 90’s, I was an extremely picky eater with a palate that allowed for the true enjoyment of very few foods. The great culinary theme of my formative years was to take A) some manner of very white starch, and add B) some manner of sauce that did not stray far from the color palate of the starch. I didn’t even like tomato-based spaghetti sauce as a kid. I was a true culinary terror! If I could have eaten macaroni and cheese every day for every meal, I would have done so with glee. Grilled cheese sandwiches would have been a welcome part of the rotation, and for an even bigger change of pace… mashed potatoes and gravy! Even into my high school years when my food preferences had begun to eke toward adventurous (that is, adventurous in comparison to what came before), I still looked forward with delight to mashed potato day in the cafeteria. Our high school cafeteria, being capitalistically crafty, offered the option of buying a whole lunch, or buying items a la carte. I can’t remember a single day I got the whole lunch. In fact, most days I went into the snack bar line to get a soft pretzel or little turkey sandwich. But on mashed potato day, I was in the main line, ordering up a bowl of reconstituted potato with as much near-neon yellow gravy as would fit in the bowl without dripping over on my way to my reclusive seat.

One can never go home again, and nothing proves the concept better than attempting to eat Kraft Macaroni and Cheese as an adult, and I imagine cafeteria potato buds and mysterious yellow gravy would be the same. But as my palate has matured, some fundamental favorites have not changed, at least in concept. I still love any meal that includes sauce over starch, it’s just nowadays that sometimes takes the form of Tikka Masala over Basmati. The concept of mashed vegetables is a tricky one, anymore, as conservation of carbs is also an issue in mind. Cauliflower mash is a staple of any low-carb dieter, and it remains probably the lowest carb option when cravings for mash arise. However, I see no need to limit our possibilities in this respect, so this weekend, I did two varieties of mash, one recipe old, and one new.


1 large or 2 medium butternut squashes
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup cream, sour cream or half & half
salt and pepper

Place the squash whole in a large, shallow casserole. Prick the skin several times with a fork. Roast whole in the oven at 350 until flesh is soft. Allow to cool and then peel off the skin, scoop out the flesh, and discard the seeds.

In a medium-sized, deeper casserole dish, mash the squash with butter, cream, salt and pepper. Since squash can be stringy, I like to whip the mixture with my immersion blender until it is silky smooth.

If the squash mixture is somewhat soupy, place back in the oven, uncovered, to keep warm while letting some of the excess liquid evaporate. Check on the mixture often and stir to check consistency. When it reaches the consistency of mashed potatoes, serve and enjoy!

Again, I can’t stress this enough: squash flesh tends to be stringy when cooked. Butternut less so than other squashes, but you’ll still have strings. I DO NOT recommend a simple treatment with a potato masher (i.e. the method for lumpy-style mash). If you don’t have an immersion blender, try a food processor. It’s a little more work, but worth the effort to get a silky smooth result.


2 lbs. rutabaga
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 cup cream, sour cream or half & half
salt and pepper

Peel the rutabaga and cut into chunks. Place in a large saucepan or stock pot. Cover with water and boil until tender.

Drain the rutabaga chunks and place in a medium, deep casserole dish with butter, garlic, cream, salt and pepper. Mash or process with an immersion blender until smooth. If necessary, place in the oven to keep warm while other dishes are cooking. Serve with your favorite gravy, sauce or curry.

This was the first time I ever mashed a rutabaga. Honestly, it behaved very much like a potato. If anything, it’s a little drier and requires a bit more boiling time. But otherwise it is very potato-like. It did not have excess liquid at the end, like butternut and especially cauliflower mash do. I did use sour cream, instead of liquid cream, but I imagine it wouldn’t be really any different than potatoes if you did use half & half. I used a full cup, but adding half the cream would probably also work out okay because the rutabaga is so close to potato in consistency. I’ve gotten in the habit of adding a goodly amount of cream to any mash, simply because cauliflower mash requires it to get a bit more potato-like body. The rutabaga would not need as much, FYI for those looking to limit fat and/or dairy.

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