God be with the happy times
When trouble we had not,
And our mothers made colcannon
In the little three-legged pot.
--Traditional Irish Song
Colcannon, an Irish dish made from smashed white potatoes, cabbage or kale, leeks and plenty of butter, is often served for Halloween celebrations in Ireland but makes a great St. Patrick’s Day treat. If you’re looking for an alternative to boring old corned beef today, try Natural Home’s healthy version of traditional colcannon, which uses sweet potatoes, leeks and collard greens, which are popping up in gardens and farmers markets in many parts of the country. You can substitute any dark leafy greens, collard greens’ gentle smoky flavor perfectly complements sweet potatoes and leeks.
Sweet Potato Colcannon
3 very large or 4 medium sweet potatoes
2 medium leeks
1 bunch collard greens
3 tablespoons olive oil
Zest of 1/2 orange
1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons sweet cream butter
1. Boil a large pot of water. Peel sweet potatoes if desired. Cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Set aside.
2. Trim bottom 1/4 inch and top 2 inches from leeks. Slice each in half lengthwise and soak in a bowl of water, swishing to remove sand and grit. Repeat with clean water if leeks are gritty. Dry leeks, then chop into 1/4-inch half-moons.
3. Rinse collards, shake to dry and tear each leaf from thickest part of stem (discard stems). Gather leaves, roll like a cigar and chop roughly.
4. Place sweet potatoes in boiling water, and boil for about 15 minutes. Place olive oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Add leeks and stir regularly for 3 to 4 minutes until they begin to soften. Add greens and continue to stir until wilted, no more than 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
5. Cut largest potato chunk in half. If center is hard, cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. When soft to center, drain and return to pot. Add orange zest, salt, pepper and butter. Mash with a handheld potato masher or large fork until you’ve reached desired texture.
6. Add greens and leeks, stir and adjust seasonings to taste. This can be made a day ahead and heated in a covered casserole dish.
Hearty and healthy, Sweet Potato Colcannon is high in vitamins A, C and K. Photo by Povy Kendal Atchison