By Raquel Miller
You don’t need much luck to find this pot of gold!
Every year on March 17th people all over gather to pay homage to St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, with an array of foods and activities (green beer, anyone??). So this month, we’re highlighting a traditional potato and cabbage-based recipe popular in Irish cooking called colcannon! This spud-packed, nutrient powerhouse can be made as a main dish or as a side, and with a wee bit o’ prep and cooking time, you’ll be feeling the luck of the Irish on your plate in no time!
A Little History on Colcannon
The word colcannon comes from the Gaelic word cal caennann meaning white-headed cabbage and it was first brought to the US by Irish immigrants in the early 1900s. Back during Medieval times in Ireland, potatoes, cabbages, and other similar vegetables like leeks were considered food of the average people because of their availability. From those times until now, people have come up with so many different cooking methods and recipes that celebrate these common and humble ingredients.
Interesting side note: Outside of St. Patty’s Day, the colcannon dish is often made during Halloween, with prizes such as small coins, a ring, or a thimble hidden inside representing prosperity and good luck. Conversely, it’s traditional to also include a small stick predicting poor luck like an unhappy marriage, or a small bit of rag indicating a life of poverty! However, maybe after the couple years we've had recently, we can just go ahead and prepare this dish minus those unhappy (and kind of yucky) bits and stick to looking for good luck.
Carbs to Help You Crush It
Colcannon is a dish that spotlights the everlastingly classic and iconic Irish food: Potatoes. Which in my diet is practically its own food group - any other Team Potato people out here!? Firstly, potatoes are an excellent source of carbs - which is a crucial energy source for doing weightlifting. The complex, starchy carbs get a bad rap due to their high glycemic index, but they truly are great for bodybuilders and other athletes like long-distance runners, and even hypoglycemic people who have low blood sugar. Potatoes are also actually a great source of fiber, too. Fiber is important to our diet in a ton of ways, such as being full of antioxidants, helping with maintaining a healthy weight (because fiber makes you feel full longer) AND it helps keep cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check - all while helping to prevent diseases and filling you with the vitamins your body needs to function properly. Aye, all from a wee, litt-oh spud! Now ain’t that lucky?
*Puts the bad Irish accent aside.*
The other plant-based star of this recipe is cabbage. This powerful veggie is of the Brassica oleracea species and comes in an array of shapes and colors like red, purple, white, and green, and its leaves can be either wrinkled or smooth. This veg might be overlooked in terms of nutritional benefits, but it is actually a power-house of B6 and folate, and it’s super low in calories.
So all that being said, in honor of March being the month of St. Patrick's Day we’ve decided to feature Colcannon, a delicious, traditional Irish potato and cabbage recipe that can be enjoyed by omnivores, vegetarians, vegans, Irish, and non-Irish alike! Grab your spuds and let’s get cooking!
Vegan Irish Colcannon Potatoes and Cabbage
- 5 large potatoes, your choice of peeled or unpeeled (about 3lbs)
- 1 head cabbage, coarsely chopped
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 cup soy milk (or any plant-based milk of preference)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg, optional
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion, optional
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Place potatoes in a large pot and add enough water just to cover the potatoes. Bring it to a boil for at least 20 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender.
- In another medium-sized pot, boil the chopped cabbage with just enough water to cover the veg for 15 minutes. Add more water as needed and drain and set aside once tender.
- In a separate pot or skillet, simmer the onions in soy milk until tender, about 15 minutes.
- When the potatoes are done cooking, mash them together with onion and soy milk mixture, and add nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Add cabbage, stir to combine.
- Serve immediately and garnish with green onion, if using, and enjoy!
What dish will you be preparing this St. Patrick's Day?
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