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Restoratives

Some days just take all the starch out of you. On such a day, many people might say, why bother with dinner, let’s just have a drink. I say, why not have both?

In the cocktail department, you might try the Cheery Herring – the bourbon certainly makes it appropriate for fall. Why search for a “herring cocktail” in the first place? That’s a whole other story. Just know that this cocktail has grapefruit juice, so you can tell yourself it supplies necessary vitamins while you imbibe. It’s a bit muddy looking but tasty, and I don’t think you need the Swedish fish garnish (I didn’t have any on hand).

Dinner, on the other hand, offers something truly nourishing: Turnip Greens Colcannon (i.e. mashed potatoes with greens) – a home-made remedy to replenish what the day may have knocked out of you, plus nutrients. Also known as comfort in a bowl. I admit that the linked recipe had too many steps for me (soak the greens, boil them, shock them in ice water – I’m already tired just reading that), so I gave it a slight twist to suit me better. Instead of the boiling and shocking and so on, I separated the stems of the turnip greens from the leaves and then chopped the stems. The repetitive motion of the knife slicing through the stems, and the soft thunk of the blade on the wooden cutting board offered the sort of calm I sorely needed after a long day.

Note that I only had 2 medium-sized potatoes, not the 2 1/2 pounds or so the linked recipe calls for, so I reduced the recipe ingredients accordingly. I boiled the potatoes as directed in the linked recipe, but brought out a large pan for the greens. Once the stems were chopped, I deconstructed a small onion into thin half slices while heating some olive oil and a half pat of butter in the large pan.

When the oil was hot and the butter melted, I added the chopped stems with some salt and turned up the heat. Stirred everything to toss the stems in oil, then added the onion slices. Meanwhile, the leafy part of the turnip greens gets chopped into ribbons, or smaller. Once the stems and onions have soften a bit over medium-high heat (5-7 minutes maybe), throw on the chopped greens and add some salt. At this point, I also added some of the potato water to the pan, to give the greens something to cook in.

The potatoes (I quartered them before cooking, to make thing s go a bit faster) get drained, peeled, and tossed back in their pot along with about 1 tbs butter and some milk (I did not measure but approximated – just make mashed potatoes the way you usually like to do them, or follow the linked recipe).  Mash the potatoes, adding milk/butter as needed. Don’t forget to stir the pan of greens. Let the liquid cook down until the greens aren’t soupy but still a bit moist.

Depending on how many greens you have, stir about half of them into your mashed potatoes – that was about half the pan of greens for me, but you can use whatever ratio seems desirable to you. You should aim for about equal parts potatoes and greens, unless it’s been a truly hard day – then maybe you want more mashed potatoes.

Now, here is the important part: Spoon the turnip greens colcannon into a bowl – not a plate – and grate some of your favorite hard cheese over the whole thing. I went with Gruyère, but cheddar or Parmesan should work too. The key is to use the coarse side of the grater, not a micro-plane. I think the larger curls of cheese really make the dish. Mix the cheese into the potatoes a bit with a fork, and then hunker over the bowl and enjoy. This really is a nourishing meal. My farmer’s market supplier points out that turnip greens are the most nutritious of greens. So have another Cheery Herring too. It’s restorative!

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