Try traditional Irish colcannon for St. Patrick's Day

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J LANNING SMITH

Four years ago, I wanted to do my column about St. Patrick's Day and what whole plant-based foods a person might enjoy in honor of the day. Not being overly familiar with Irish foods, I did a search on the internet and came up with a colcannon dish.

The simple definition for colcannon is that it's an Irish dish made of cabbage and kale with boiled mashed potatoes, all of that mixed in together.

I had never had colcannon before, but once I tried it, I loved it. I loved it so much that I wrote about it for St. Patrick's Day that year, and I made it a regular habit of mine.

When I say "habit," I mean that I made it every week from March 2015 through December 2015. It was my dinner almost every night. That's how good it was. And it's a fantastic comfort food too.

It's a treat to run across a food that is both so good and so healthy that you want to keep eating it night after night after night. Colcannon was just that for me. And almost all of my friends who I have given the recipe to have also raved about it.

During that time from March through December, I continued to lose weight and my health continued to improve. In fact, I stopped losing weight about the same time that I stopped eating it continually.

Today, I don't eat it as often, but I still love it. And it's still a frequent visitor to my table. It's just that I've added a little more variety to my diet.

If you're interested in making it, here is the basic recipe that I use. Sometimes, I change it up a little though. I like to add mushrooms to it or sometimes I add diced tomatoes. Sometimes I substitute chickpeas for the cashews. But the base recipe as I love it is this:

Steam 12 red potatoes until tender. While they are steaming, simmer 2 large sliced leeks and ½ chopped red cabbage in 4 cups of broth until cabbage is tender. Then add 1 bunch of dinosaur kale and cook until its wilted.

Separately, combine 1 cup of raw cashews with 1 cup of water and blend until smooth. When potatoes are ready, mash them with the cashew cream and some of the broth from the cabbage mixture.

Add ½ tablespoon of cardamom, 2 teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon white pepper and mix thoroughly into the potatoes. Then add the cabbage mixture and the rest of the broth and combine well. Adjust seasoning to taste.

This makes five servings and it's delicious. Happy St. Patrick's Day.

J Lanning Smith is a local freelance writer focused on healthy lifestyles.

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