Saturday, March 17, 2012

The luck of the Irish

We nearly had a St. Patrick's Day tragedy this year.

I'm part Irish, I love holidays, and my kids are all about magical creatures: the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and, yes, leprechauns.

Each year, we develop some crafty leprechaun traps to try to catch O'Reilly, our personal leprechaun who springs all our traps and taunts us with notes playfully disparaging our invariably unsuccessful efforts. We place gaudily decorated treasure chests where a little moonlight will fall, because leprechauns are bound to fill them with treasure!  They're also allowed to hide them, but if you find them before the end of the day, you get to keep the loot.

Either O'Reilly is really lousy at hiding treasure chests, or our kids are just really good at finding them. I suspect it's a bit of both.

But this year, on St. Patrick's eve, I was exhuasted.

Just. So. Tired.

I stretched out on the bed around 8:30, just to rest for a moment, and woke up late the next morning. On St. Patrick's Day. Oh, crap.

But my husband, who deserves his very own super-hero badge and cape, had stepped in while I slumbered; he carefully arranged the treasure chests where they'd be lit by moonlight and set the traps with the boys.  As usual, we didn't catch O'Reilly, but he did leave the boys some chocolatey loot.

And I felt very lucky, indeed.

I fared much better with our other Irish tradition: colcannon.

Our first year as a veggie household, I hunted high and low to find something good and Irish to cook in celebration of St. Pat’s. I mean, if you take the corned beef out of corned beef and cabbage, all you have is cabbage. And, as much as I like tofu, tofu and cabbage just didn’t seem like a good idea.

Hooray for the internet, because that’s how I discovered colcannon. Essentially, it’s the happy marriage of mashed potatoes and cooked cabbage, with lots of milk and cream and butter. Our veggie version doesn’t have the dairy products, but it’s still creamy and delicious.

My seven-year-old is so wild about this dish that it’s his first choice for every special meal he gets to choose. When it’s his birthday, we’re eating colcannon. When we’re celebrating his new Taekwondo belt, we’re eating colcannon. And, of course, when it’s St. Patty’s: yes, we’re eating colcannon!

So I'm going to share our favorite colcannon recipe with all of you. Colcannon isn’t exactly health food, but it’s definitely comfort food, and sometimes that, along with a little luck and a really awesome husband, is just the thing you need.



3 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into large chunks
6 T Earth Balance buttery spread, divided, plus more for serving
1-1/4 c. hot soy milk
1 head green cabbage, cored and chopped
4 scallions, finely chopped
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Bring a large pot of water with a steamer insert to a boil over high heat. Steam potatoes for 30 minutes or until tender. Remove the insert and pour the cooked potatoes into a large bowl, and mash with 4 T. Earth Balance buttery spread, cut into pieces. Gradually add soy milk, stirring constantly. Season to taste with salt (and pepper, if using).

Boil the cabbage in the pot of water used to steam the potatoes, until the cabbage turns a slightly darker color. Add 2 T Earth Balance to pot. Cover and cook for 2 more minutes. Drain thoroughly.
Add the cabbage and scallions to the mashed potatoes, stirring them in gently.

Serve colcannon in shallow bowls. Make an indentation in the top of each and fill with a pat of Earth Balance. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Serves 6.