Why Alex Guarnaschelli Adds Other Veggies To Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are the holy grail of Thanksgiving sides, the best friend to gravy, and the rival to mac and cheese. It's the epitome of comfort food, served on most restaurant menus, but not always prepared the same.

According to The Daily Meal, Americans aren't the only ones to put this starchy side dish on a pedestal. The French add garlic and cheese and call it aligot, the Scottish mix in rutabagas and call it Clapshot, the Irish mix in kale, cabbage, and scallions and call it colcannon — and this is just to name a few. The beloved pureed potato has become a heartwarming addition to meals all over the world, and adding a few of your favorite ingredients besides the basics of butter and sour cream can turn regular ol' mashed potatoes into a brand new dish. In fact, Alex Guarnaschelli did just that.

Not only does Food Network's Alex Guarnaschelli cook in front of the camera, she's the executive chef of Butter, a restaurant located in Midtown Manhattan. Her savvy kitchen secrets stem from 30 years of restaurant experience — from secret ingredients that elevate dishes, time-saving techniques, or in this case, knowing how to lighten up a comfort classic without sacrificing flavor.

Root vegetables are vitamins in disguise

Guarnaschelli adds root vegetables to her mashed potatoes. According to Insider, the chef revealed this secret on a Zoom call, stating that she likes to incorporate an assortment of less starchy veggies that contain more vitamins such as sliced turnips or sunchokes.

Guarnaschelli goes on to say that this is a great way to use less potatoes and stretch your ingredients further, which is a huge deal for a restaurant cook. In fact, if you're feeling an even lower carb option, you could omit the potatoes altogether and puree all root vegetables. Simply fold in butter, cream, and any other mix-ins you prefer, and watch your guests be fooled by the resemblance. Some other lighter takes she likes to play with are swapping in Brussels sprouts, turnips, or cauliflower for potatoes in gratin, and rutabaga for sweet potatoes in candied yams. "I'm really a closet vegetarian," says Guarnaschelli (via Insider).

With root vegetables having a soft texture once cooked down, you'll hardly know it's not a potato. However, The Washington Post notes that you should not use stringy vegetables as potato substitutes as they may have a negative impact on the texture of your dish.