A traditional Irish dish, Colcannon was reserved for special occasions since “few Irish cottagers grew turnips or cabbages.” (1) How interesting since those foods are so common nowadays! Common though they may be, when combined with affordable potatoes you get a lovely dish that is not only budget-minded but also highly nutritious and tasty enough for company.
The following recipe for Colcannon caught my eye, no doubt because I’m part Irish, but also because autumn’s cool weather has finally blown in, making a hearty potato dish sound perfect. What’s more, it takes good advantage of cool-weather produce: I have lots of kale and green onions from my garden along with plenty of potatoes in with my CSA share.
Reading Between the Lines While making the recipe, however, I noticed how often I was “reading between the lines,” making additions and substitutions based on my health needs (I’m dairy-free), tastes and experience in the kitchen. Another post explained how a lot of a recipe can be missing–as if written in invisible ink between the lines. Read on to see how much and what information can be “missing” from a recipe, and how to begin building your knowledge base of trick and tips to make meals that are ever more satisfying for you.
Mind Your Ingredients It all starts with good ingredients. They are especially critical in dishes that have only a few to rely on for flavor, particularly when 1) the main ingredient (potatoes) is on the bland side and 2) when the main flavorings (cream and butter) have to be reduced or eliminated for health reasons. This is where tricks, tips and experimentation come in:
Health Boost Interestingly, the modifications above also had the effect of improving the healthfulness of the dish.
- Nothing against butter, but with 100 calories per tablespoon, it’s helpful to be moderate–and it’s not so very hard to reduce 5-6 Tablespoons to 2-3 Tablespoons.
- While I eliminated the cream due to a dairy allergy, it also saves a lot on the calorie count. Since butter and cream are the traditional flavor enhancers, however, reducing or eliminating them makes it all the more imperative to use the flavor boosters listed above.
- Potato skins, besides adding flavor, are loaded with vitamins and minerals, like vitamin B-6, thiamin, niacin and vitamin C, as well as iron, potassium and magnesium (2)-–plenty of reasons to leave them in the dish instead of tossing into the compost bin.
- Finally, increasing the kale from three cups to four and tripling the green onions also boosts flavor along with nutrients.
My Recipe for Colcannon See how I used all this information from “reading between the lines” to create my healthier version of Colcannon.