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.

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 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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