This time of year cabbage and kale are plentiful and nutritious. It’s also time to think about getting those transplants ready for the garden. The cold weather doesn’t bother these hearty (and hardy) plants.
All members of the cole family are troubled by cabbage moths, so be ready when your transplants go out to cover them with row covers or be vigilant about treating with Bt, a bacterium specific to butterfly and moth larvae (available at most garden centers).
Now to the best part – eating!
Whether Chinese cabbage such as bok choi or napa, round head red or green cabbage, Winterbor, red Russian or laciniato kale, they all can make a wonderful riff on the traditional Irish colcannon.
This true comfort food is simply made with mashed potatoes and cabbage or kale. It sounds unusual, but I’ll guarantee that there’s something magical about the combination of earthy potatoes and sweet cabbage or kale.
Start with mashed potatoes
And as great as it is just as the Irish make it, there are so many other things you can add to it to make it even more delicious. You simply make mashed potatoes as you always have (add cream cheese when mashing for more richness).
Choose your vegetables
Then saute vegetables of your choice – kale, swiss chard, chinese cabbage, traditional cabbage, eggplant, zucchini, broccoli – with some onion and a bit of garlic until slightly tender.
Mix with the mashed potatoes and bake. It makes a perfect side dish to any main course, and is a delicious vegetarian entree all by itself.
Feel free to add and subtract as your palate desires. You can substitute half the potatoes with parsnips, add carrots or peppers. You can also top the dish with cheddar, gouda or parmesan cheese for a different flavor. If you like, top the dish with bread crumbs or panko before baking.
Serve six as a side or four as a main dish
4 medium russet potatoes (about two and a half pounds), peeled and cut into chunks. You can use reds or yellow potatoes for a different flavor
2 T. salt (sounds like a lot, but you are salting the water which will give the potatoes just enough saltiness
4 T. butter or 2 T. butter and 2 T. cream cheese
Approximately 1 c. milk or cream
3 c. chopped kale, cabbage, chard, or other leafy green
3 green onions or one small leek, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
½ c. chopped sweet red pepper or mix in a little hot pepper if you like
In a medium -sized saucepan, put the potato chunks and cover with cold water by an inch. Add salt and bring to a boil. potatoes in a medium pot and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, and bring to a boil. Boil until a fork easily pierces the potatoes, about 15-20 minutes. Drain well.
Preheat the oven to 425. Melt the butter in a saute pan and add the greens. Saute about three minutes. Add the onions or leeks and any other vegetables and cook another minute. Set aside.
Mash and bake
Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or mixer, using enough milk or cream to make them creamy but not runny. Combine with the vegetables and salt and pepper to taste. Smooth into an oiled casserole dish and add cheese and/or breadcrumbs if using. Bake about 30 minutes until the mixture is bubbly. Let stand ten minutes and enjoy!