I do tire of spud-bashing.
In the healthy eating context, I mean.
All too often, potatoes end up on the wrong side of the whats-good-for-you conversation, as things that we need to eat less of, or seek alternatives to. They are, perhaps, the victims of the extreme success with which they marry with butter and cheese and a great many other fats. From Joel Rubuchon’s legendary butter-laden potato purée to your everyday bag of crisps, it seems that spuds provide a highly accessible parking spot for additional calories.
But potatoes themselves are not the source of this excess and – as I may have mentioned once or twice before – they make for quite a tidy nutritional package. What’s more, they can play just as well with card-carrying super foods – unregulated as that term may be – as with those apparently fiendish fats (though the fact is that our bodies need a certain amount of those too).
To prove my point, I made some mash. And not just any old mash but one that is probably about as far away as you could get from Joel Rubuchon’s all-butter version (though it does not shun butter entirely). It’s a recipe inspired both by Extreme Greens – Sally McKenna’s wonderful guide to making the most of mineral-rich seaweed, and a book that I have been delving into a lot over the past few months – and by a presentation which Dorcas Barry made at the Savour Kilkenny Foodcamp last month on eating to stay young. That talk featured much that was raw and green and vibrant, just like this mash.
Kale & Dillisk Mash
This mash has got all kinds of good-for-you stuff, with kale and dillisk flying the flag for dark leafy greens and seaweed respectively, while natural yoghurt brings its fermented goodness, along with all ’round good guys, root ginger and garlic. Of course, as mentioned above, spuds themselves are no slouches nutritionally, and there’s some butter for flavour and texture, but it’s not excessive (and besides, butter is a fabulous fat).
You can really think of this as a kind of raw food version of colcannon. Whereas a classic colcannon-type mash would feature cooked kale and spring onions doused in hot milk, along with the inevitable butter, here it is only the potatoes that are cooked – nothing else gets the heat treatment.
– To take the very raw edge off the spring onions, they are tossed in some lemon juice and left for a few minutes.
– The kale is made palatable in its raw state by being finely sliced and then massaged (and if you’re thinking that sounds a bit Californian then, yes, here’s an L.A. Times article all about it). Basically, sliced kale leaves – sometimes with a little added salt and/or oil – are rubbed together for a couple of minutes (a bit like rubbing butter into flour when making pastry). The kale turns darker, reduces somewhat in volume and loses some of its bitter edge, though still retains some of its chewiness.
– There is also a small amount of raw garlic – take care not to overdo it, the intention here is to flavour, not to overpower.
The result (even if I do say so myself) is a pretty damn good-for-you mash, which works especially well with some baked or grilled salmon, and nothing else needed.
- Serves around 4-6 mash eaters & takes approx. 45 min to cook the potatoes and prep the mash
- approx. 800g potatoes, preferably a floury variety
- salt (for boiling the potatoes & massaging the kale)
- 6-8g dried dillisk (about 3 tblsp when soaked & chopped)
- 125ml water (for soaking dillisk)
- 3-4 spring onions, very finely sliced
- 1 tblsp lemon juice
- 125g natural yoghurt
- 1 tsp very finely grated root ginger
- Scant 0.5 tsp finely grated garlic (approx. 1 small clove)
- 5-6 large leaves curly kale (approx. 100g when thick ribs removed)
- 50g butter
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
You’ll also need:
- A potato ricer is always useful, though not essential, when making mash
- Peel your potatoes and cut into roughly even-sized slices, around 1.5-2cm thick. Rinse under cold water.
- Bring about 1.5l of water to the boil in a saucepan, add about 2 tsp fine salt and the potato slices. Bring back to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently, covered, for around 10-15 minutes or until just fork-tender.
- While the potatoes are simmering, soak the dried dillisk in the water to soften, toss the sliced spring onions in the lemon juice and mix the natural yoghurt with the grated ginger and grated garlic.
- Remove the thick ribs from the kale and slice the leaves very finely. Place in a bowl and sprinkle over about 0.25 tsp fine salt, then massage for a couple of minutes until the kale turns darker and reduces somewhat in volume.
- When the potatoes are done, drain well and return to the saucepan. Then either let them sit, covered by a tea-towel, for about 5 minutes or place the pan over a low heat and stir the potatoes gently for a minute or so while they dry out.
- Put the cooked and still warm potatoes through a potato ricer, if you have one, or mash with a potato masher or, if all else fails, a fork.
- Add the butter to the potatoes and stir it through as it melts. Stir in the yoghurt/ginger/garlic mix, then roughly chop the softened dillisk and add to the mash along with its soaking liquid. Add the spring onions with their lemon juice and stir in the chopped kale. Taste and add some salt if you think it needs it and/or a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Serve warm with some baked or grilled fish, such as salmon or hake. You could also have this at room temperature as part of a salad plate, say.
- The mash will have a fairly stiff consistency, so add extra yoghurt or some milk if you favour a looser consistency. Capers would also be a nice addition.