Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Garlic Colcannon

Yum! I love food like this. It's quick and easy to make, but incredibly comforting. Mashed potato tends to do that to a person, though. I'm not one for mush-foods usually, and love them best when they're mixed with something with texture. Examples: I mix my apfelmus/applesauce with crispy spelt oats. I mix baby spinach leaves through my daal. And I mix garlicky kale through my mashed potatoes. This dish is based on Irish Colcannon, except that I added so much garlic that it could no longer be called Irish. I think it's better this way.

I've been jealous for a while, reading a squillion American food blogs where they seem to have kale whenever they want it. Not so, here in Germany: the season has just begun. Usually it comes already shredded, in giant bags, but I managed to find some intact at the market. Next time I find some, I'm making ribollita, because ribbons of kale look so much prettier than shredded kale... especially running through a bowl of rich tomato soup with white beans. Mmm. Until then, however, I'm going to have to stick with less impressive presentations.

I'm not sure which variety of potatoes these are, because admittedly, I didn't bother reading the sign. I just asked the man at one of the potato stalls which potatoes would be good for mashing. Actually, I didn't ask that at all, because I don't know the verb for "mash". I asked about Kartoffel Puree instead. But the man directed me to a pile of very small, smooth potatoes, and I bought a kilo. I felt a little silly asking for a single kilo, when all of his other customers bought massive sacks of potatoes, but hey, I'm only one person, and I'm a person who likes eating a wide variety of vegetables every day. I just don't need many potatoes. Why would I, when I can eat pumpkin or mushrooms or feldsalat or tomatoes or celery? I need to save room for other vegetables, after all.

However, sometimes it's just comforting to dig into a big pot of mashed potatoes. They were my
favourite food when I was a child (pavlova and other sweet desserts excepted, of course) and while my tastes have changed considerably - definitely for the better- I still think they're a good option compared to certain other potato preparations. I'm looking at you, German potato salad. I'm also thinking about french fries, but I'm going to have to stop thinking about those... I may have a weakness for deep-fried foods, but if I'm going to stuff myself on something that unhealthy, I'm eating spring rolls instead. But with this mash, I kept the skins on the potatoes. That's healthy, right? ;)

Garlic Colcannon
600g mashing potatoes, cut into chunks
3 heads kale, stems finely chopped and leaves sliced (keep separate!)
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp vegan margarine (optional)
salt & pepper

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the potatoes, 15-20minutes or until completely tender. How long they take relies on how large or small your chunks are, so keep that in mind. You could cook them whole, but I'm not that patient.
Mash to desired consistency - I like mine a little chunky sometimes. It depends on my mood.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large pot/pan and sautee the garlic and kale stems until the stems are beginning to soften. Add the leaves and cook until they're tender - about 5 minutes if they're tough. Add a touch of water if needed.
When the kale is cooked to its desired texture (I like mine pretty well-cooked, which is completely different to how I like any other green vegetable) mix it through the mashed potato and season generously with salt and pepper.
Mix through some vegan margarine or a splash of extra olive oil if you like, to make it taste even better! If the mash gets too thick, just add a touch of water. I don't recommend adding soymilk to mashed potatoes because I find it leaves a noticeable aftertaste, so make all your texture adjustments using water.
Failing that, just eat the mash. Mmmm. ;)

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