Mashed Cauliflower with Broccoli Rabe Pesto, Seared Mushrooms & Vegan Gravy



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


This is comfort food at its finest.  Each of these components can be used individually of the others.  The gravy can be used any way you would use gravy.  The pesto would be great over pasta, as a base on pizza or on crostini – or any other way you might be inspired to use pesto.  It is a tad bitter – as broccoli rabe is wont to be – but I think that is its appeal.  The mashed cauliflower is a genius, light substitute for mashed potatoes & even the seared mushrooms could be used in pasta or risotto, on pizza or on crostini with some lovely meltable cheese – like goat or mozzarella or a bit of a blue cheese.

The mashed cauliflower can be made vegan (though it is not here) by simply using your vegan version of heavy cream or by replacing the cream entirely with a little veggie stock & vegan butter or just the veggie stock.   Roasted garlic could be added or cheese or anything you might like to add to your traditional mashed potato recipe.  It is as customizable as its potato counterpart.

My presentation here is not as I imagined.  I wanted to present it in a more sturdy tower like my Brown Rice & Quinoa Risotto with Arrabiata & Shrimp or my No Carb & 120 Calorie Shirataki Pasta Alla Checca – seen below respectively.



Despite trying to limit the amount of heavy cream in the recipe, thereby keeping the texture of the mashed cauliflower pretty firm, I failed & my cauliflower wasn’t resilient enough to stand upright.  It didn’t effect how delicious this side dish is, though.   You can elect to reduce the cream in it if you want a less creamy, less mushy result.  Ramekins (or narrow bowls) can be used to tier the ingredients & then just flip the cauliflower-pesto layers onto a plate & top with mushrooms & gravy.  This can be eaten alone or as a side dish with a nice piece of grilled fish or other meat.  If the entire dish overwhelms you (there are many steps but all are SUPER simple) – please try at least one of the elements – the mashed cauliflower or the pesto or the vegan gravy – on their own.



Mashed Cauliflower with Broccoli Rabe Pesto, Seared Mushrooms & Vegan Gravy


For the mashed cauliflower

2 heads cauliflower – boiled soft

2/3 cups (or less) heavy cream (or vegan substitute)

S&P to taste

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For the broccoli rabe pesto

1 head of broccoli rabe

1 cup pistachios (or other nut) – toasted

1 heaping cup grated Parmesan

4 garlic cloves

3/4 cup olive oil

S&P to taste

For the seared mushrooms

8 large mushrooms – sliced thin

8 garlic cloves – chopped

1 TBS Marsala (optional)

Olive oil

S&P to taste

For the vegan gravy

7 medium shallots – whole & unpeeled

10 (or to taste) garlic cloves – whole

olive oil

5 large mushrooms – sliced thin

1 tsp fresh thyme

3 TBS flour

1/2 cup Marsala (optional)

2 TBS low sodium soy sauce

3 cups vegetable stock

1/2 tsp dry sage

1 tsp Dijon mustard

S&P to taste

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish


For the mashed cauliflower

Maybe do this step LAST just before serving – so mashed cauliflower maintains its heat.  Also – skip down to the gravy recipe below & roast the shallots & garlic first so they are ready when you need them.

Boil the cauliflower until very tender.  Puree in a food processor with heavy cream and S&P.

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For the broccoli rabe pesto

Toast the pistachios in a dry pan, being careful not to burn them, until just fragrant.  Set aside.

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Trim the rough stems from the broccoli rabe & immerse in boiling water for 3-5 minutes – until tender.  Drain & rinse in cold water.  Squeeze out all the excess fluid.

In a food processor, pulse the cheese & garlic & nuts until they are a fine dice.  Then simply add the rest of the ingredients & pulse until pureed.  If it is too thick – add a small amount of water (or more olive oil).  Set aside.

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For the seared mushrooms

Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a saute pan.  Add the mushrooms & garlic (and 1/2 tsp salt) & stir over high heat until the mushrooms begin to brown.  Add the Marsala (if using) & cook it off.  Add S&P, remove from heat  & set aside.

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For the vegan gravy

Toss the unpeeled shallots & whole garlic cloves in 1 tsp olive oil & wrap in foil.  Roast in an oven heated to 350 for 45 minutes.  Remove from heat & allow to cool.  When cool enough to handle, squeeze the shallots out of their skins into a food processor.  Add the garlic & puree until smooth.  Set aside.

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In the same pan you used for the seared mushrooms, heat another 2 TBS olive oil & heat the mushrooms & thyme & cook over high heat for about 5 minutes.  Add the flour & stir to coat.  Add the Marsala (if using) & cook it off & then add the stock 1/2 cup at a time, allowing the gravy to thicken a bit after each addition.  When all the stock is incorporated, add the pureed shallots & garlic, soy sauce, sage, Dijon and S&P to taste.  Allow to simmer about 15 minutes.

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To assemble, either use a culinary ring like THIS or use a ramekin or narrow bowl.  Simply layer some mashed cauliflower, then some pesto & then more cauliflower & flip onto a plate.  Top with seared mushrooms & gravy & some chopped parsley serve.


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2 thoughts on “Mashed Cauliflower with Broccoli Rabe Pesto, Seared Mushrooms & Vegan Gravy

  1. Pingback: Broccoli Rabe & Pistachio Pesto with Whole Wheat Pasta & Shirataki | Delightful-Delicious-Delovely

  2. Pingback: Mashed Cauliflower with Broccoli Rabe Pesto and Marsala Mushrooms and Gravy |

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