Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit! That is, happy St. Patrick’s Day (in advance!) This Colcannon with Kale is a healthy low-carb option for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. But you don’t have to wait for March 17th to enjoy it; with just 5 ingredients, it’s equally yummy any time of year.
Tips for making the Low-Carb Colcannon with Kale
So, what is colcannon, anyway? It’s a traditional Irish dish made with mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage.
I bet you can guess that this low-carb and keto-friendly version of colcannon doesn’t use starchy, high-carb spuds. In fact, since I have been low-carbing for ages, I don’t remember the last time I ate them: it must be over a decade ago. I hardly remember how potatoes taste, but I remember that they feel gluey and starchy in the mouth. Here, cauliflower, everyone’s favorite low-carb staple, replaces the “inferior” potato — without compromising great taste.
The most important thing to remember when preparing this dish is to use well-drained cooked cauliflower and kale. If there’s too much water in your veggies, you’ll end up with a tasteless, watery mess instead of a rich, creamy side dish.
Also, make sure you don’t over-steam your kale: you want it to have a bit of a bite. Steaming the kale for 5-7 minutes should be ideal (at least, it was for me). Remember to drain your kale well, too.
Other than that, this is a really easy dish to make, especially if you happen to have some leftover cooked cauliflower.
So, let’s take a look at how to prepare this delicious dish:
First, combine the well-drained, cooked cauliflower…
…and the chopped chives.
Mash or pureé until smooth. I prefer to pureé my cauliflower with an immersion blender to make it really velvety, but you can use a potato masher or just a regular blender.
Here we go.
Add the well-drained kale…
…and stir with a spoon…
…until well combined.
Now, heat the mixture until piping hot.
Season with salt if desired. I always cook my cauliflower with salt, so I never need to add any, but if you feel you need the dish saltier, by all means add some natural salt, like unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt.
Pour or ladle into a serving bowl (or 4 bowls).
Serve with softened butter.
It melts beautifully and deliciously…
My low-carb and keto colcannon experiments
Last summer, we spent several weeks in our summer house in the middle of nowhere. This is a very Finnish thing. Many Finns own summer houses or cottages that are located in the middle of nowhere — often in the middle of forest, and usually next to a body of water, like a lake. That is also (almost!) every Finn’s dream — to spend summer in a summer house into the middle of nowhere.
Our own summer house is located next to Vuohijärvi, quite a large and deep lake. Actually, it’s so deep that the water seldom gets very warm during the summer— except last summer, when it was intolerably hot all over Finland. Then the water in the lake was as warm as 75 °F (24 °C). The summer house and the lake were great for escaping the sweltering heat. We swam a lot!
Well, apart from swimming and hiding from the heat, I had a list of recipes to try out while we were in the summer house. One of them was a low-carb-slash-keto version of colcannon. Don’t ask me why I had included this Irish St. Patrick’s Day recipe in my summer-house recipe list! Maybe because it’s great all year round? Or maybe I just wanted to be prepared with great low-carb and keto recipes for the next Paddy’s Day. Honestly, I can’t remember!
Anyway, when I was searching for ideas for my low-carb colcannon recipe, I was browsing colcannon recipes around the web. As you might expect, most of them included potato, which is a real no-no on a low-carb diet. No problem, though: starchy potato is easily replaced with cauliflower, a much more nutritious (and tastier!) low-carb veggie.
In the end, I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so I had to develop the recipe from scratch. In addition to cauliflower, I wanted to use kale instead of cabbage in my colcannon, not only because it’s super-nutritious, but also because of its beautiful green color: perfect for St. Patrick’s Day! Adding raw kale was out of the question, so I decided to steam the kale until wilted but still firm enough to provide a bit of a bite. Most importantly, this short steaming time would leave most of the nutrients in the kale intact.
I didn’t want to skimp on fats: fat is the most important component of a keto diet. I decided the recipe should use plenty of heavy cream and also an ample amount of butter for serving. Yum! (I think I consume heavy cream and butter every single day…)
I would also need some seasonings. I didn’t want anything too spicy: just something to add to the flavor. Maybe my all-time favorite seasoning, onion powder?
After some careful calculations, I was ready to conduct my first experiment. For that, I took 1 lb (450 g) cooked cauliflower, 1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 2 oz (60 g) kale leaves torn into relatively small pieces, and 4 tablespoons softened butter for serving.
First, I mashed the cooked cauliflower, heavy cream, and the onion powder. After that, I steamed the kale until tender, about 5-7 minutes. I drained the steamed kale, added it to the cauliflower mixture, and stirred well.
Next, I heated the mixture until hot and added some unrefined sea salt, as my cooked cauliflower wasn’t salty enough on its own.
I poured the finished colcannon into a large bowl and served it with 4 tablespoons of softened butter, divided equally on top of each serving.
First of all, I was surprised at how good the consistency was. It definitely made a difference that I had drained the cooked cauliflower so well.
The taste was also wonderful. However, the onion powder lent a slightly weird taste to the finished product. Onion powder is a staple in my kitchen, but for this dish, something fresher would be a better choice, I thought. Maybe chives or spring onion?
It took until the beginning of March before I experimented with this dish again. I really wanted to post this recipe for St. Patrick’s Day this year. Otherwise I was very happy with the recipe, but the dull taste of the onion powder was bogging me down. Still, I was pretty sure I’d be able to improve the taste significantly using chives instead.
So, I was ready to begin my next experiment. I took two cups (470 ml) of cooked cauliflower that I had drained very well. I put the cauliflower in a saucepan together with 1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of chopped chives.
I thought I would add the kale before pureéing the mixture, but then realized that I wanted some good-sized pieces of kale in there. The color would have been greener — and thus maybe more Paddy’s Day-esque—if ‘d pureéd the kale, but I really had my heart set on the bite-sized pieces of kale.
According to my notes, I had used 2 oz (60 g) kale in my first experiment. When I started measuring kale for this experiment, that felt like an enormous amount. So I finally took only 1 oz (30 g), which was precisely 1 1/4 cup (300 ml), tightly packed and before steaming.
This time I was very happy with my experiment. The chives seemed to be an excellent replacement for the onion powder. They really lent a fresh, springy note to the colcannon — plus a beautiful green color.
Also, the amount of kale was enough for me — although in the video, the pieces of kale are slightly too large. In the progress photos at the beginning of this post I use kale that is more finely chopped, and I have to admit it works better this way.
In the end, my family and I were really happy with this simple, tasty recipe. If you have some leftover cooked cauliflower lurking in your fridge, use it in this dish tonight— you won’t be disappointed!
So, here’s the recipe:
|Nutrition Information||In Total||Per serving if 4 servings in total|
|Protein||11.2 g||2.8 g|
|Fat||71.4 g||17.8 g|
|Net carbs||13.6 g||3.4 g|
|kcal||757 kcal||189 kcal|
Tips for variation
If you hate small bites of kale in your low-carb colcannon, you can pureé the kale along with the rest of the ingredients. I bet that would make it more kid-friendly, too. They might even fall in love with the green color (which makes it perfect for Halloween as well!)
For a slightly different take, replace the kale with cabbage. Sure, your colcannon won’t be green anymore, but at least it’s closer to the traditional Irish version — and thus a very authentic addition to your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
For even more richness, add 1/4 cup (60 ml) grated Parmesan to the hot mixture and stir well. That’s my secret weapon when it comes to seasoning cauliflower: no one will know the Parmesan is there, but it lends it extra savory flavor that works well in almost every dish.
Personally, I love white pepper with my mashed cauliflower, so I bet it would suit this colcannon perfectly, too.
Last but not least, you can stir in a crushed garlic clove just before serving for an even livelier flavor.
Have a cheerful St. Patrick’s Day!