Conscious Cook: The green, green hills of health
“When Irish eyes are smiling, sure ’tis like the morn in spring. In the lilt of Irish laughter, you can hear the angels sing.”
The beauty of emerald green spring grass and the advent of St. Patrick’s Day has conscious cooks whistling a merry tune as they begin to prepare light and lovely spring recipes. March is a perfect occasion to showcase lusciously life sustaining foods, particularly dark, leafy greens.
Dark leafy greens are not always a significant component of most American diets. One of the most invigorating foods that you can put into your body, dark, leafy greens may help purify the blood, eliminate depression, aid digestion, stabilize blood sugar and lower cholesterol.
With an amazing array of greens to choose from, there can be no lack of creativity in the kitchen for St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy calcium rich kale, sprightly tender leaves of baby spinach, mellow savoy cabbage, which is a gorgeous hue of light green, or add even more color to the plate with a rainbow assortment of Swiss chard. Incorporate brilliant green herbs such as parsley, dill, or cilantro to salads, soups, salsas and sauces for a potent portion of vitamin C.
Consuming more of these delicious plants will provide delightful nutrients such as iron, folic acid, chlorophyll, magnesium and beta carotene, which may help boost immunity and stave off heart disease.
There is such a vast variety of enticing ways to enjoy fresh spring greens, especially in many traditional Irish dishes. Colcannon is a much loved potato concoction, that lends itself well to a few modern updates including kale, cabbage and parsley. This dish is a delicious accompaniment to roast Irish salmon, corned beef, lamb or pork.
When choosing your greens at the market, buy organic whenever possible. The flavor will be sweeter and more intense, and you will avoid pesticide residue. Purchase greens with vibrant color, avoiding yellowing or brown stalks or leaves. If organic is not available, wash your greens very well, by filling a large bowl with cool water and plunge the greens into the bowl. Swish around and remove to drain. Empty the bowl and repeat the process several times. Dry your greens in a salad spinner and store them in the spinner or in a plastic bag that you have punched several holes to allow for air circulation. Serve greens within 2-3 days of purchase.
Revel in your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations as part of preparing your delicious life. May your neighbors respect you, troubles neglect you, the angels protect you and heaven accept you.
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon + ½ tablespoon Irish butter (Kerrygold is widely available in supermarkets.)
2 large sweet onions, peeled and diced
4-5 cups well washed, then shredded savoy cabbage
2 ½ cups water or vegetable broth
4 cups washed and chopped kale leaves (remove center rib)
1 cup chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add potatoes. Cook potatoes until tender, approximately 20-30 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water then drain potatoes, Season potatoes with salt and pepper, then mash with reserved water, adding a little at a time until nice and smooth. Set mashed potatoes aside. Heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan and saute onions until translucent. Add savoy cabbage to pan with ½ cup water or broth. Cover pan and cook over medium-low heat until cabbage is tender. Set aside. In a stockpot bring 2 cups of water or broth to a boil. Add kale leaves and cook for just a few minutes, until barely tender. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Remove kale from pot and drain well in a colander.
Stir cooked kale, cabbage, onions and parsley into mashed potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a casserole dish. Top with ½ tablespoon butter and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until piping hot.
For more information on Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook,” go to theconsciouscook.net.