An Emerald Isle tradition, colcannon is a combination of mashed potatoes mixed with either cooked cabbage or kale. For a healthier, lower-carb version, I’ve swapped out potatoes for cauliflower in this no-guilt cauliflower colcannon for St. Patricks Day. It’s a great way to get your veggies any day of the year.
Who doesn’t love real mashed potatoes? Kent might live on them if I let him. These days you’ll only find the real deal at our house around Thanksgiving or Christmas. But with steamed and pureed cauliflower being so delicious and good for you, we don’t really miss mashed potatoes outside of the holidays (just don’t ask his opinion). In this recipe, cauliflower stands in for the mashed potatoes for a healthy and delicious twist on traditional Irish colcannon.
Prep and Cook the Cauliflower and Kale
Trim a head of cauliflower to just the florets. In a pinch, you can use 24 ounces of bagged florets, but it’s easy to do yourself and fresher. For the kale, strip tough center stems with your hands, then chop the leaves into small pieces.
Bring a pot with a few inches of water to a boil and add a steaming rack. Add the cauliflower florets and steam until soft, 8-10 minutes. While the cauliflower is steaming, cook the kale and green onions in a little butter or ghee until soft, about 4 minutes. When cauliflower is soft, drain and add to a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
Finish the Colcannon
Puree the cauliflower and garlic cloves in a food processor with coconut milk and a tablespoon of butter or ghee. I use the unsalted (silver package) Kerrygold pastured butter, which is great butter. Scrape the cauliflower into a medium bowl, add the cooked kale and green onions and stir together. If you want it more smooth, add the kale to the food processor and pulse a few times to refine.
Cream or milk is standard in colcannon, but I used canned coconut milk for richness instead. While pastured, grass-fed Irish butter is also standard, you can use ghee. Ghee is clarified butter with milk solids removed, which many dairy-sensitive people enjoy without a problem. For how to make homemade ghee, see this post. If you want to keep this vegan, use olive oil.
Cauliflower puree loses its temperature quickly. To serve this hot, either mix and place the bowl in a warm oven or microwave for a few minutes until hot again for serving.
If you enjoy Parmesan cheese (something I cannot live without), add a little grated Parmesan to the final dish before serving. It’s not traditionally Irish, but it sure tastes good!
Cauliflower replaces potatoes in this traditional Irish side dish for a lower-carb, healthier version. I use good Irish pastured butter, you can use ghee or even olive oil to make it vegan. Leftovers reheat well. Serve with roast salmon or chicken.
- 1 head cauliflower 2 pounds, or 24 ounces bagged florets
- 1 bunch Tuscan or Lacinato kale
- 3 green onions or scallions
- 4 large garlic cloves peeled
- 3/4 cup canned coconut milk
- 2-3 tablespoons unsalted grass-fed butter or ghee divided use
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, preferably white
Trim the head of cauliflower into florets; discard center stem. Strip the stem from the kale leaves with your hands, then chop the leaves into small pieces. Chop green onions fine. Save a few of the green tops for garnish and use the rest when cooking.
Fill a large pot (5 quarts) with a few inches of water, add a steamer rack inside and place a lid on top. Over medium high heat, bring the water to a boil with steam coming out of top. Place the cauliflower florets and garlic cloves into the steamer rack and steam until very soft, 8-10 minutes. While the cauliflower is steaming, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium sauté pan. Add the green onions and kale and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.
Drain florets and add to the bowl of a food processor with a steel knife. Puree the cauliflower and garlic cloves with the coconut milk and 1 tablespoon butter until fairly smooth.
Add the cauliflower puree and kale to a bowl and stir together. Add salt and pepper. Serve hot. Finish with one last tablespoon of butter if desired. If the colcannon has cooled down, microwave to heat or place in a warm oven while you are finishing the meal. For a more refined colcannon, add the kale to the food processor and pulse.
For a non-traditional addition, stir in a few tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan cheese before serving. A little fresh grated nutmeg is good too.