Spinach Potato Cheese Mash
4-6 golden or redskin potatoes
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2C shredded parmesan or romano
*UPDATE: It has come to my attention (via the NY Times’ fun “Recipes in Health” series) that I am not in any way original in making up this recipe. Irish people have made a dish called Colcannon for a long long time and my humble submission is, it seems, merely a variation on this classic. So try both kinds! But try mine first, because it has cheese in it.*
I had a recent revelation, which was preceded by two important revelations over the past two years: namely, that I should eat more vegetables, and that I could control that quite simply by cooking for myself more. Those two realizations have led to a number of kitchen-related experiments (as Mitt Romney would say, some successful, and some not) but, more importantly, they have helped me to discover that in order to cook and eat vegetables, one must first buy them.
This seems obvious in retrospect, but it is aided by the fact that yours truly is, well, not in a high-profile, money-making profession. One might easily imagine that hard-working scientists would be bringin’ in the big bucks after a few years, but this is tragically just not the case. So when I buy something, goshdarnit, I’m going to eat it before it goes bad! (Or even slightly after, but expiration dates are a subject for another post.) Hence, if half the things in my shopping cart are vegetables, then so are half the things I eat.
Simple math like this has introduced me to numerous produce items I was previously unwilling to (1) eat or (2) attempt to cook, merely as a product of my being unfamiliar with them. But after eating pasta with chicken and bell peppers in butter sauce (amazing and easy, don’t get me wrong) so many times, I have branched out.
I tell you this story to encourage you to go out and buy crazy roots and leaves and tubers and then figure out something exciting to do with them, but the above recipe (quite obviously) required little experimentation for me, and probably won’t for you. I share it more as a lesson in methods than a mind-boggling example of previously unpaired but complementary ingredients.
Required for this recipe are a paring knife, a medium-sized pot, a working sink, a functioning stove, a pasta strainer, and some kind of mashing instrument. Plus, y’know, the food. Step one is WASH (see previous post) and cube the potatoes into about one-inch cubes, and put them into the pot. Fill the pot to above-the-potatoes with water, and boil until they’re done—about fifteen minutes. You can tell when they’re done by sticking your knife into a couple of cubes—if there’s any resistance at all, they’re not ready.
While potatoes are making, get your spinach out. Put all of it into the pasta strainer and pick out any gross-looking leaves. Yuck. Now rinse with cold water and toss in the strainer.
Next, prepare to blanche your spinach. JUST KIDDING, calm down! Leave the spinach in there, and when the potatoes are done, pour them, water and all, over the spinach. Voila! Blanched, but not overcooked, spinach is yours. Pour everything back into the pot. Add butter and cheese, and mix with your mashing instrument. A potato masher will work, obviously, but really anything with a broad base or edge, like a big wooden spoon or fork, will suffice. Mash and mix for about one minute, season with pepper, and you’re ready to go.
See? Easy, right? Next time someone tells you to blanche your spinach, you tell THEM that you’ve already got a plan so don’t worry about it. This can also be done for pasta dishes including greens like spinach and kale (and probably things like broccoli florets) , although for hardier ones like swiss chard, this might not do the entire trick and cooking may be called for.
Enjoy your mashed nutrition! (Also makes great lunch leftovers.)