Monday, June 9, 2008


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A real down-home dinner- vegan meatless loaf  with creamy lowfat mashed potatoes and vegan brown gravy. (Our favorite no-fat vegan meatless loaf recipe here. Can be GF.)

Why mashed potatoes when it's almost summer, you may ask? Because it's bloody freezing here! I'm still craving cold-weather foods. But, in any case, it gives me a chance to share something I just learned from Cook's Illustrated magazine. This magazine, BTW, is not vegetarian, but you can learn alot about food science from it, as well as good tips about cookware, ingredients, etc.

I love mashed potatoes, but I'm not about to put a stick of butter (or even my new palm-oil-free homemade vegan "butter") into a 2 lb. batch of mashed potatoes. I've been making them fat-free for years now, but I thought they could use a little "face-lift", so-to-speak. Then, I happened to read an article in Cook's Illustrated. Although their goal was not to make tasty fat-free mashed potatoes, the article helped me do just that.

They discovered that using a different cooking method from boiling worked better. In addition, they advised using a potato ricer to make the potatoes fluffier. Now, I have never owned a potato ricer, and my husband had never heard of it and thought I was nuts, but, then, he's used to me chasing after kitchen gadgets that take my fancy. I had just been talking to Julie Hasson about potato ricers and she told me they make great mashed potatoes. The article clinched it-- I was off to the local kitchen shop and laid down my $20 or so (including tax) for the nifty new model.

I often use Yukon Gold potatoes for mashed because they have a warm, slightly buttery look to them, and a rich flavor. And that's what the magazine recommended, for the same reasons. They added 1/4 cup of butter to their potatoes (instead of their usual 8 tablespoons), but I didn't use any, and they were still yummy. That way, you can either use a fat-free vegan gravy and be really virtuous, or you can melt some vegan marge (Update; try my new palm-oil-free homemade vegan "butter") on top and still not be ingesting THAT much fat.

Here is what the author had to say about the cooking method:

"Gluey potatoes are a result of starch granules that swell with water and then burst during cooking, releasing a gel that turns potatoes sticky. Cooking the potatoes with their skins on protects the starch granules, reducing the chance of a gummy mess. To give peeled potatoes the same protection [the magazine's cooks were trying to avoid needing to peel freshly-cooked hot potatoes before mashing BCG], we made two alterations to our usual technique. Steaming rather than boiling the potatoes exposes the potato pieces to less water, reducing the chance of the granules swelling to the point of bursting. Some granules, however, will inevitably burst; rinsing the potatoes midway through cooking removes the resultant gel. As a bonus, we found that this method requires less butter and dairy to achieve the same richness as conventional mashed potatoes."

It sounded a bit complicated, but it really wasn't-- and the results were great. Give it a try next time you cook potatoes for mashing.

Printable Recipe

Serves 4

To make these even more rich-tasting, you can blend some extra-firm SILKEN tofu with your non-dairy milk to make a sort of fat-free cream. (Some people call for non-dairy creamer, but I find most too sweet for mashed potatoes.) Another suggestion-- add some roasted garlic while mashing.

2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes (4 to 6 medium), peeled, cut into 1-inch chunks, rinsed well, and drained
about 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 2/3 plain full-fat soymilk, or almond milk, warmed (2/3 cup made them a bit too soft for me, put that's a personal preference)
NOTE: You could also use hemp milk, if you like the taste-- it is quite creamy.
Freshly-ground black pepper

Place a metal colander or steamer insert in large pot or Dutch oven. Add enough water for it to barely reach bottom of colander. Turn heat to high and bring water to boil.

Add the potato chunks, cover, and reduce heat to medium-high. Cook the potatoes for 10 minutes.

Transfer the colander to the sink and rinse the potatoes under cold water until no longer hot, 1 to 2 minutes. (Or, if you use a steamer, place it in a colander in the sink and rinse as instructed, then transfer the steamer back to the pot.)

Return the colander and potatoes to the pot, cover, and continue to cook until potatoes are soft and tip of paring knife inserted into potato meets no resistance, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Pour off water from Dutch oven.

ENERGY-SAVING ALTERNATIVE:  Micro-steam the potato chunks in a covered microwave-safe casserole.  The amount for this recipe, cut as instructed above and cook at 100% power for about 12 minutes total, rinsing as instructed above after 6 minutes, and then returning to the casserole to finish cooking. You do NOT need to add water to the casserole, BTW. 

Set the potato ricer over now-empty pot. Working in batches, transfer the potatoes to hopper of ricer or food mill and process, removing any potatoes stuck to bottom. Press all the potatoes through the ricer into the pot. (Use a food mill if you don't have a ricer.)

Using a spatula, stir in the salt until well-mixed. Stir in the warm non-dairy milk until the consistency you prefer. Season to taste with more salt, if necessary, and freshly-ground pepper. Serve hot with fat-free vegan gravy.



Jeannie said...

I've used a ricer to make mashed potatoes for a long time now - it's so much easier than a traditional potato masher and you never have to worry about lumps. I have found that when I use a ricer, I can leave the small potatoes unpeeled and simply halve larger ones. The potato goes through the ricer and into the bowl, but the skin stays behind. I have to clean out the ricer after every potato, but that's way easier than peeling. In that way, the ricer is similar to a garlic press, another kitchen implement that saves me the hassle of peeling.

Thanks for a great recipe! Another thing that I add to my mashed taters is leftover okara from my soymilk maker. It's a great way to add protein and fiber to an otherwise starch-dominant (though delicious) side.

julie hasson said...

I can't wait to try your potatoes Bryanna. I love the idea of steaming them.

I hope you enjoy the ricer. I'm always happy to help add to your list of kitchen gadgets ;-) By the way, wait until you taste gnocchi with riced potatoes. They come out super silky.


Anonymous said...

MMM I do love mashed potatoes! I'll have to try your version if I ever get my hands on a ricer.

That meatloaf looks tasty also :]

Sheree' said...

First I can't wait to get my hands on the cookbook! I love fieldroast products. Second I have wanted a potato ricer forever and now It is going on my birthday list.

mustardseed said...

Oh...I always had reservations about making mashed taters cause it's really high GI! But I need some comfort food sometimes...

I like my mashed potatoes creamy yet chunky, so I think I'll be better off making "smashed poatoes". I don't have a ricer though...

spiceislandvegan said...

This is one gadget I don't have, yet. :-) Wow, thanks for this post. I love yukon gold potatoes and agree that they taste creamy and buttery. Love your picture of meatloaf and can't wait for your new cookbook.

Anonymous said...

How is this fat-free if it contains "full-fat soy milk"? In any case, it's still lower fat than my usual mashed potatoes so we'll be trying these soon.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Well, I guess I could have labelled it "almost no-fat" or "no-added-fat", but I think that's splitting hairs! But come-on! Full-fat soymilk is still low in fat! And so is Almond Breeze! It is almost impossible to be totally no-fat, and we do need some fat in our diets, so some natural, unprocessed soy oil is not going to hurt us! I specified these two milks because rice milk is too watery to make good mashed potatoes, in my opinion, and some "lite" soymilks are, too. I am trying to balance low-fat and good taste.

~M said...

Hi Bryanna,

My sister-in-law and father both ADORE mashed potatoes and are coming over for a holiday dinner soon. This recipe has very high potential since they are dairy-free! I have two questions though.

First, when you remove the steamer/colander filled with potatoes to rinse them in cold water, do you leave the old steaming water in the pot or do you start with fresh water after they potatoes have been rinsed.

Second, what are your thoughts on using So Delicious's Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage as the dairy-free sub? It's intended to be a dairy-sub over cereal and such, unlike canned coconut milk. We can't do Almond Milk due to a nut allergy but always have the So Delicious on hand (and it's great!).

Thanks so much for your help!

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

~M-- you can just use the old steaming water for the second step.

As for the milk, I haven't tried that coconut milk yet, as it isn't available where I live yet. I know that it is pretty low in fat and have read good reviews about it's taste, so if you don't think it's too sweet (judge it by the sweetness of regular milk), I'd say go ahead and use it.

BTW, I caution people not to use this new commercial cocnut milk as a NUTRITIONAL substitute for dairy milk or soy milk because it is, like rice milk, very low in protein (1 g per cup). Soy milk has about 8 g protein per cup (same as dairy), and hemp milk has about 6 g. Grain or nut milks have 1 g, or 2 at the most.

in2insight said...

Found this just in time for the big Holiday feast. Looking forward to trying it this way.
(Potato ricer in cart at
BTW, the link to the Fat Free Gravy leads to a "Page not found" error.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

oops! I changed the link-- it works now!

Anonymous said...

Can I use homemade cashew or oatmeal milk.

nicole said...

I made these potatoes last night and they were delicious! I modified the recipe a bit; on the second round of steaming the potatoes I sprinkled them with rosemary, I roasted some garlic in the oven while they were steaming and added that as well, I used unsweetened cashew milk instead of soy milk, and I didn't have a ricer so I just smashed them with a fork which was fine with me because I prefer lumpy mashed potatoes with the skin. My boyfriend LOVED it, so I'm really excited to make it for my family for Thanksgiving - I'm cooking an entirely vegan meal for them and I want them to like it! Vegan stuff is bomb and almost easier than using animal products. :) Thank you for the recipe!