Colcannon, a mashed potato and kale recipe, is pure comfort food that is a favorite for St. Patrick’s Day. Many colcannon recipes call for cabbage, but I've always preferred kale. Potatoes and kale make a happy combination in many other recipes. Here are some of my favorite, including the Portuguese kale soup also called Caldo Verde, plus kale salad and a savory cheese pie.
Colcannon mashed potatoes with bacon, kale, and garlic. Steam 2 pounds unpeeled potatoes (red, yellow or Russet) until tender. Reserve the steaming water and cool potatoes until you can peel and quarter. While still warm, mash potatoes by hand or using an electric mixer with paddle attachment. Add 6 ounces (1½ sticks) softened butter and 3/4 cup hot milk and stir until blended. While the potatoes are cooking, fry 6 thick slices (6 ounces) diced smoked bacon until lightly crisped (don’t drain the fat). Add 1 cup chopped spring onions (green onions or leeks can be substituted) and optionally, 1-3 cloves minced garlic and 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or cayenne. Saute until onion softens. Add 3 cups washed, stemmed, and sliced (1/2 inch) kale. Continue to cook until kale is completely wilted. Add the warm kale mixture to the potato mixture and stir until blended. If necessary, use some of the reserved potato cooking water to create a creamy mashed potato dish. Makes 4 servings as a supper dish, or 6-8 as a side dish.
Kale, Bean, and Potato Soup (Caldo Verde). Saute 1 cup diced onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil until softened. Add 1 bunch washed, stemmed, and chopped kale (4-6 cups) and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until greens let off a lot of steam and shrink 50-75%. Stir in 8 cups water, 2 pounds peeled and diced potatoes, 1 clove minced garlic, 1-2 teaspoons salt (or to taste), 1/2 teaspoon paprika or cayenne pepper, and 6 ounces diced Portuguese sausage or one 15-ounce can drained black or pinto beans. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat slightly, partially cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Makes 6 generous servings.
Kale Potato Salad with Vegetables: Toss together 1 cup cooked diced potato, 1 cup cooked and chopped winter vegetables (beets, carrots, cauliflower, squash cubes, turnips), 3 cup thinly sliced raw kale or parsley leaves, and 1/2 cup chopped onion. Whisk together 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon cider or wine vinegar, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Pour dressing over potatoes and vegetables and toss until well-combined. Makes 4-6 servings.
Savory cheese pie with feta, kale and potatoes. Generously butter a 9x1‑inch quiche pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Briefly saute 3 cups washed, stemmed, and sliced (1/2 inch) kale in 2 tablespoons butter or oil, about 2 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to low and sweat for 10 minutes. Stir in 1 medium peeled, diced potato (about 1 cup), 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Turn off heat and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, stir together the 1 cup heavy cream, 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese, and 2 beaten eggs. Add cooked and cooled (just not hot) kale mixture and stir to combine thoroughly. Spoon the filling into the buttered dish and spread evenly, smoothing the top. Place filled pan on a baking sheet and place in the middle of the oven. Pour boiling water into the baking sheet to surround the quiche pan and come up the sides. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the center is firm and the edges are lightly browned. Cool ten minutes before serving. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature. Makes one 9x1-inch pie or 6-8 servings. If you have a deep dish 9x2‑inch pie pan, double this recipe and the baking time.