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What Is Puréeing?
Puréeing is a cooking technique that mashes or liquifies food into a smooth, thick paste. Typically cooked vegetables and legumes are used to make purées, but fresh fruit is often puréed to make smoothies as well. Hearty purées can stand alone as a side dish, while lighter purées can be used to accentuate a dish and create a flourish in presentation. Purées can be made with a blender, food processor, potato masher, sieve, fork or, if you want to get messy, by hand.
Why Purée Food?
From a culinary perspective, puréeing foods can make for a delicious gluten-free vegetarian dish. It transforms foods into the smooth texture we enjoy in silky soups, mashed root veggies, and dunkable dips. Think past the classic mashed potatoes and try a squash purée or cauliflower purée. If you’re looking for a low-fat option, try swapping out cream and whole milk for chicken or vegetable stock.
What Foods Can You Purée?
- Cooked vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery root, squash, green beans, and parsnips. For creamy root vegetable purées, use whole milk or cream to make them extra luscious (hot water will just make it runny).
- Cooked legumes, such as chickpeas to form the base of hummus.
- Any fruit can be puréed into a delicious smoothie or simple applesauce. If you're puréeing fruit, try using fruit juice as your liquid to enhance the flavors and get the right texture (a hint of lemon juice helps, too).
- Cooked meat cut into small pieces can be puréed with chicken stock or gravy.
- Nuts like peanuts and almonds can be puréed into butters, and sesame seeds can be puréed into tahini.
- Adding thick dairy products, like sour cream yogurt, cottage cheese, or even ice cream, can give your purées more body and up their protein and calcium content.
Puréeing in 2 Easy Steps
- Place chopped food in a blender or food processor, add liquid to just cover the food.
- Secure the lid and puree foods until they're smooth and homogenous. If the mixture is too dry, try adding liquid by the tablespoon and continue to blend until it reaches the desired consistency.
It is also possible to puree foods with an immersion blender.
Chef Gordon Ramsay’s Green Asparagus Purée Recipe
Prep Time10 min
Total Time30 min
Make this asparagus purée as part of Chef Gordon Ramsay’s sautéed asparagus dish.
- Scraps from the trimmed green and white asparagus
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons shallot, small dice or brunoise
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 4 sprigs lemon thyme, leaves picked
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 4 tablespoons heavy cream
- Maldon salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- Melt the butter in a large, shallow saucepan over medium-low heat. Add shallots and garlic with a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté for 3 minutes or until translucent and slightly tender. Do not get any color on the shallots and garlic. Add asparagus slices, season with two pinches of salt, a dash of pepper, and lemon thyme. Stir together with a wooden spoon and saut. for another 3 to 5 minutes or until the asparagus is softened. Be sure not to get any color on the asparagus. The green asparagus should have a vibrant green color—if it starts to gray it is overcooked.
- Deglaze the pan with enough vegetable stock to submerge the cooked vegetables and let the liquid come to a simmer. Turn the heat off, cover with a lid, and let rest for 2½ minutes. The asparagus should be soft when pinched between your thumb and finger and tender to the bite.
- Remove the lid and bring the heat back to medium. Add the cream and bring to a boil for 1 to 2 minutes. The purée will separate if the cream is cold when blending. Taste and season with more salt as needed.
- Transfer asparagus mixture to blender. If you still have a decent amount of cooking liquid in the pan, do not pour all of it in to the blender. Reserve to begin and add as needed or you may end up with soup instead. Start blending on low speed, then gradually increase to medium and blend for 1 minute to emulsify all of the ingredients. The purée should be silky smooth and hold to the spoon when scooped. Taste and season with more salt as needed.
- If your purée is not coming together, add a few tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid to the blender to thin it out. If you don’t have extra cooking liquid, use vegetable stock instead. Cool down slightly and pour into an 8-ounce squeeze bottle.
Find more restaurant recipes to cook at home in Chef Gordon Ramsay’s MasterClass.