My daughter used to love all kinds of pureed vegetables as a baby and toddler, and then when she went to school she discovered white bread, sugary sweets and seemed to develop a dislike for all the healthy vegetables she’d once adored. In an effort to get her back on track with vegetable fibre in her diet, I began to add pureed courgette to pasta sauce or mix peas and carrots in with curries, but a popular choice at my house with her and her wee chums when they visit, is Cathy’s Crazy Colcannon - my own take on the popular Irish dish.
- 1 x chunky leek
- 1 x cup of petits pois peas (they’re sweeter than garden peas)
- Two handfuls of spinach
- Mashed potato - you can boil about 4-6 potatoes and mash them with butter, but when I’m in a rush I often buy pre-made mash from the supermarket.
- Butter - loads!
Chop the leek in small slices and put into a hot pan with butter. Fry and stir until soft and golden (and they sometimes taste better as they start to caramelise and brown a little). If you need to ‘hide’ the vegetables from the kids, then, once cooked, pop the leeks into a blender (I use my Nutri Bullet) and whizz for just 20 secs. Pour into a large serving bowl along with the mashed potato.
In the same pan, add another knob of butter and, once melted, add the spinach and then pop a plate or lid over the top to let the steam from the spinach help cook the leaves. Cooking spinach like this only takes about a minute, so keep an eye on the pan, making sure to stir a few times. Once soft, pop into the potato mix, (or if you’re ‘hiding’ the spinach, then put the cooked leaves into the Nutri Bullet or blender and whizz these up for about 10 seconds too, then pour into the potato and leek mix).
In the same pan again (I’m all about saving on the washing up) add a third knob of butter and then put the peas in here until they’re warm and brightly green. They can go in from frozen, but it really is best to defrost them (just add hot water to the cup once you’ve measured them out and then strain before heating in the pan). And, no surprises here - pop these into the potato bowl or serving dish too, then mash the whole lot up with a fork; adding more butter to taste, or even a wee drop of cream/milk if you have some in the fridge. We love butter in my house, but like everything, it’s best to consume in moderation.
To save a bit of time, you can put everything into a larger wok all together, but leeks take longer to cook than the spinach and peas, so give the leeks a few minutes on their own and then pop the peas and spinach in towards the end.
The original and traditional Colcannon recipe is said to be potato, cabbage and scallion (spring onion), but this recipe is totally versatile and you can add whatever vegetables you have in the fridge as long as the flavour isn’t too strong for vegetable detectives - pureed courgette works well; and spring onions instead of leeks are great too. When I make this for grown ups, I often keep the skins on the potatoes and do a crushed potato mash with the greens throughout. This retains the most nutritious part pf the potato of course.
I love to eat this on its own, as I don’t eat too much meat, but it’s great with pork and leek sausages or Valentina and her friends seem to love it with chicken Kiev or fish fingers. Whichever way you enjoy it, rest assured you are definitely getting 2 or 3 of your five a day in all at once. Enjoy!