Irish Potatoes for St.Patrick’s Day

Unlike millions of Americans and most of the Irish, I grew up in a house where mashed potatoes were a forbidden food. I was able to enjoy this white contraband only in the school cafeteria or when a friend invited me to stay for dinner.

A firm believer that a potato without its skin is not worth eating, because “that is where all its goodness is,” my mother did not care how much butter or sour cream you mashed into a baked potato – but you had to eat every bit of its skin. (Now, of course, restaurants have made eating potatoes smashed with their skins not just acceptable, but downright trendy.)

As a result, I ate mashed potatoes on the sly. This changed when I arrived at the age of rebellion, which coincided with studying the history and customs of Ireland. An eager student, I particularly loved words. Reading of dishes called “Champ,” “Colcannon,” “Boxty” and “Fage,” I researched to find recipes for dishes with these intriguing names. That they often included a generous amount of healthy vegetables such as kale, cabbage, scallions, or parsley increased my enthusiasm and gave my rebellious side ammunition. As a contentious adolescent eager to contradict my mother, I loved showing her how these Irish classics let you eat mashed potatoes and get good nutrition, too.

Today, we know that all of the potato offers useful benefits, including vitamin C and potassium. Still, the addition of kale or cabbage in Colcannon, and leeks or scallions in Champ, increases their nutrition in dishes I still think are delicious.
Green Mashed Potatoes - Makes 4 servings or 2 cups.

1 1/2 lightly-packed cups baby spinach leaves
3/4 lb. small potatoes, preferably yellow-fleshed
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions, green part only
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Place the spinach in a food processor. Whirl, stopping as needed to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the spinach is finely chopped and moist but not pureed. (This step can also be done with a large, sharp knife.) Set aside.

Place the potatoes and garlic in a saucepan. Add cold water until the level is 2-inches above the potatoes. Set over medium-high heat until the water boils, then reduce the heat and cook until the potatoes are very soft, 20 to 25 minutes, depending on their size.

Drain the potatoes and garlic in a colander, then immediately return them to the hot pot, shaking the pot until the potatoes look dry. With a fork, roughly mash the potatoes to break them up. Add the spinach, scallions and oil. Mash until the potatoes are fluffy and bright green, with the skins well mixed in. The spinach will be wilted rather than soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 103 calories, 4 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat), 16 g. carbohydrate, 2 g. protein, 3 g. dietary fiber, 22 mg. sodium.

The Author:

"Something Different" is written for the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) by Dana Jacobi, author of The Joy of Soy and recipe creator for AICR's Stopping Cancer Before It Starts.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) offers a Nutrition Hotline online at www.aicr.org or via phone 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, MondayFriday, at 1-800-843-8114. This free service allows you to ask questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. A registered dietitian will respond to your email or call, usually within 3 business days. AICR is the only major cancer charity focusing exclusively on how the risk of cancer is reduced by healthy food and nutrition, physical activity and weight management. The Institute’s education programs help millions of Americans lower their cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. Over $82 million in funding has been provided. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

Article Posted: March 12, 2007

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