Friday, February 10, 2017

Ireland: Colcannon

This recipe was originally posted in by The WFPB Guy:

I'm going to move now from Tibet to Ireland. As I said when I started my project, there is no particular order to my work. That will all come together later. Of course, one reason for that is I would get bored making everything from Asia, for example, until such time as I exhausted every country in Asia. So, it won't be unusual for me to bounce from Asia to Europe to the Americas back to Asia and so on. Also, in order to cover 196 countries in a reasonable time of four to ten years, I plan to only do one dish from each country.

And with that, I want to present a recipe from Ireland. It's Colcannon, my all-time favorite dish.

Colcannon is a mashed potato dish, traditionally made with cabbage or kale. To me, it's the ultimate in comfort foods. I first learned about it in March 2015 when the editor at a local newspaper asked me to do a column on whole foods, plant-based ways of eating for St. Patrick's Day. Upon researching the subject, I learned about Colcannon and came upon this recipe, which I have modified only slightly. After learning about it, I found myself making Colcannon every week for the rest of that year. I did make it less frequently during 2016 but only because I told myself that I needed more variety in my dinners. I could eat this every night though and never get tired of it. I love it that much.

Traditionally, the Irish make Colcannon with cream and butter. In this recipe, I'm using cashew cream to make the creaminess. I know that some WFPB eaters don't want to use nuts, and I can say that I've also made this in the past with garbanzo beans instead of cashews. It turned out okay in those instances, but it definitely didn't have the same creaminess as is the case with cashews. I've also made this dish using sweet potatoes instead of red potatoes. While I found that enjoyable too, it didn't present the same degree of comfort that the red potatoes do as a comfort food. So, feel free to experiment with this recipe.

There is also one Indian/southeast Asian spice in this dish, which is of course not native to Ireland. And that's cardamom. It's my addition to this traditionally Irish recipe, but I think it makes all the difference in the world. Cardamom just seems to go naturally with this dish, and I tend to go a little heavy with it. I'll oftentimes add more cardamom than called for here, but be careful about adding too much cardamom because cardamom is a fairly heavy flavor and it can easily overpower a dish like this.

I originally got this recipe from a website called Adventures of a Vegan Military Wife, which is a fantastic website for whole plant-based foods. I've changed very little from the original recipe. Basically, I added the cardemom and I changed the quantities because I tend to cook in large quantities. And once I make this particular dish, I know that I will eat it and not grow bored with it.

This easily makes ten servings and requires a large roaster pan to make that many servings. Cut the recipe in half to make five servings.


5# bag of red potatoes plus 3 small red potatoes
4 large leeks, sliced (light green and white parts only)
1 head of cabbage, chopped
2 bunches of kale, cut up (I leave the stems on, but you may prefer to remove the stems first)
8 cups vegetable broth (Miso broth is particularly flavorful in this dish)
2 cups raw cashews
2 cups water
4 tsp salt (I use Real Salt)
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 tablespoons cardamom (but remember that I like a heavy cardamom flavor in this dish)


Cook the potatoes as you would normally cook potatoes. I prefer to steam the potatoes in the InstantPot for 20 minutes.

In a large roaster pan, simmer the leaks and the cabbage in broth until the cabbage is tender. Add the kale and continue to simmer until wilted.

While the potatoes are cooking and the veggies are simmering, add the cashews and water to the Vitamix or blender and blend until smooth.

When all of the above are ready, mash the potatoes in some of the broth from the veggie mixture and the blended cashew cream. Add the spices (salt, white pepper and cardamom) to the mashed potatoes and stir in thoroughly. I suggest that you might consider stirring in just 1 tablespoon of cardamom to start, tasting that and then deciding about adding the remaining or part of the remaining cardamom.

Now, add the mashed potatoes into the roaster pan with the veggies and stir until the cabbage, leeks and kale are thoroughly mixed in with the mashed potatoes.

And enjoy!

Welcome to Ireland.

J Lanning Smith


  1. Hi :) Someone posted this on a vegan facebook page. I made colcannon once from the recipe on the Low-Fat Vegan website. The author is Irish I believe. It was wonderful. I have printed out yours -- cardamon! and cashews! Yes. Will try it. Wishing you many safe and wonderful travel adventures.

  2. Thank you Paula. That looks good. I think you'll enjoy my version too.