Roasted Cauliflower and Fennel Colcannon [Vegan St. Patrick's Day Menu]

by Sarah on March 15, 2013 · 12 comments

The question I faced in planning Wednesday’s cooking class at Whole Foods was:

How do I lighten-up, veganize, and put a creative spin on the very traditional, basic, hearty Irish cuisine?

First, I reach back into the archives of my brain* and recall the joy I found in obsessively recreating traditional Irish Soda Bread last year at this time.

*Also known as my blog.

After laughing out loud* at how much more witty and hilarious I was in crafting posts back then, I settled on my favorite of the three soda breads I posted: Vegan Savoury^ Soda Bread w. Rosemary, Thyme, and Dates.

*Literally. Ask my roommate.

^Because savoury just needs to be spelled with a u.

Then, I successfully create a meaty stew without meat.

So good, my (actually Irish) roommate declared it ‘perfect for pairing with Guinness.’

And, finally, I take a traditional Irish dish and completely throw caution convention to the wind.

How?

I get rid of the potatoes…and use cauliflower instead.

Colcannon is a traditional Irish recipe that essentially boils down to* mashed potatoes mixed with kale. (Although cabbage and spinach are often substituted.) It is covered in butter and smoothed out with cream, sounding altogether delicious, but not exactly healthy.

*Pun intended.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t cover THIS version in butter and blend it with cream. I’m just saying the lactose intolerant or vegans in the crowd won’t be down for that.*

*Nor would the Health Starts Here program that sponsors my cooking classes. ;)

But I digress. [Thoughts of butter can be quite a distraction.]

Because Irish cooking is typically unseasoned and appears flavorless upon first glance at recipes, I knew I needed to amp up the ingredient list. Luckily for me, my roommate has a current obsession with fennel.

So instead of onions in the saute pan–boooooring—I picked up a bulb of fennel, which I have determined is what would happen if dill and celery gave birth to an onion baby and sprayed it with black licorice (or what fancy schmancy folks call anise) perfume.

When you roast it, however, it loses most of its licorice-like qualities, and instead caramelizes and becomes rather sweet and almost melt-in-your-mouth creamy.

Of course, I couldn’t let a cooking adventure go by without a secret ingredient.

(Apparently the only “secret” ingredient I know how to use is apples?)

Instead of mashing, I threw everything into my food processor, and pulsed away.

As anyone who has made a cauliflower crust knows, cauliflower doesn’t whip, it ‘rices.’

The addition of unsweetened almond milk, a little bit at a time–

helped to smooth everything out into a slightly chunky mashed potato texture.

From there, it was a simple steam…

…and stir!

Beautiful, but not crazily seasoned, it wouldn’t offend me in the slightest if you chose to add some more pepper, a dash more salt, Sriracha (as suggested by my cooking class students), or ketchup! [As suggested by me. ;) ]

So, me lads and lassies, you see it IS possible to make a healthier, lighter, vegan menu based on a ‘meat and potatoes’  tradition.

Or should I say…meat(less) and potat-NO-es?Roasted Cauliflower and Fennel Colcannon

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 bulb fennel, stalk and fronds removed
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bunch kale, ‘de-boned’ and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (more or less as necessary]
  • salt + pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice fennel bulb into sixths or eights, cutting out the center and peeling apart the white ‘leaves.’
  3. Break apart florets from cauliflower, into relatively equal sized pieces.
  4. Combine cauliflower, fennel, and apple on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add water to the pan to help ‘steam’ and soften.
  5. Roast 30-40 minutes, until caramelized and soft.
  6. Allow cauliflower, fennel, and apples to cool.
  7. Process-in batches if necessary- by pulsing in a food processor until smooth, but still slightly chunky. [Add almond milk in small increments until desired consistency.]
  8. In a medium saucepan, steam kale until wilted.
  9. Stir in mashed cauliflower mixture until heated through.

 ————————-

 What do you think, Laura?

Does a vegan twist on Irish tradition constitute Strange But Gold Good?

Make sure y’all check out her blog today for other fascinating flavors and crazy culinary concoctions!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table March 15, 2013 at 8:34 am

The recipe looks good. I loved your sweet potato soade bread last year so I know I’ll love this one… AND I LOVE LOVE LOVE the bastardization of my logo. I feel like I’ve “arrived” not that I’ve had Miss Smart graffiti my logo. ;)

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Michelle @ Eat Move Balance March 15, 2013 at 9:17 am

Yes, strange . . . but wow, that sounds good!! I’m definitely going to try this. I love cauli mash and kale, so together it has to be delicious. Thanks for the recipe!

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Allie March 15, 2013 at 10:50 am

Okay, I was tasked with making dinner for the fam tonight and had NO idea what to cook–but an Irish feast it will be now! Time to break out the soda bread (my favorite bread, I do believe), colcannon (I even have kale on hand!), and, hmm, I don’t have any corned beef, I’ll have to ponder another option for that…

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Liz @ I Heart Vegetables March 15, 2013 at 11:26 am

Haha St. Patty’s day always makes me think of YOU! (Must be the red hair, hehe)

You are too adorable! I don’t love cauliflower but roasted sounds good!

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Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl March 15, 2013 at 11:57 am

An entire Irish-themed meal that is lightened-up AND vegan? Um, awesome!! Thanks so much for sharing this :) .

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Haley @ fullnfit March 15, 2013 at 12:06 pm

The strangebutgood logo is FABULOUS! Your colcannon remake looks delicious–and easy! :) Have a great weekend!

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Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets March 15, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I don’t know I happen to think you’re pretty funny now, and I love how old posts can make you laugh out loud. Genius creations.

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rebecca @ blueberry smiles March 15, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I really like fennel, but I never know what to do with it. This looks like a great way to use it!

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Sarah March 20, 2013 at 7:23 pm

This was actually the first time I ever used fennel. My roommate has been going through the bulbs like crazy, so I think I just got jealous of her confidence with it!

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Cari March 15, 2013 at 7:52 pm

this looks great! love fennel and cauliflower :)

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Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli March 16, 2013 at 4:40 am

Haha! I love that we both graffitied the #SBG logo this week! Lol And I have to admit, when I saw your “secret ingredient” I wasn’t at all surprised! What I AM surprised slash intrigued with/by? “When you roast it, however, it loses most of its licorice-like qualities, and instead caramelizes and becomes rather sweet and almost melt-in-your-mouth creamy.” O-M-G!!! I already LOVE fennel, now I just wanna frickin’ MARRY IT! Lol

And seriously, I’ve been looking back at a lot of my old posts recently, and just the other night I was sitting here across from my mom and was practically brought to tears I was laughing so hard. My mom was like, “What on Earth is so funny over there?” and I was like, “ME!! hahaha!” ;)

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Brittany @ Delights and Delectables March 17, 2013 at 2:36 pm

I love this idea! I have never used fennel so I’m excited to try it!

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