I’m in trouble with the doctor. Recent blood tests showed that my Folic Acid levels were very low. She knows I’m a vegetarian and fixed me with a beady stare, commenting that of course I was eating my leafy green vegetables …
I shuffled my feet and confessed that while I’ve been ill, my eating patterns have been very patchy. So I left the surgery with a promise to take Folic Acid supplements and to get down to the supermarket and stock up on spinach, kale and the like.
And so far I’ve been pretty good about eating my greens. I’ve been looking for recipes which are quick and easy, as I don’t always feel up to cooking, and which incorporate ingredients likely to tempt my suddenly very erratic and fussy appetite.
Which leads me to mashed potato, my go-to comfort food. And courtesy of my brother and Nigel Slater, I’ve found two fabulous ways of using leafy greens. I was perfectly happy with them as they came, but you could also use them as accompaniments to veggie sausages or even a nut roast.
Make up as much mashed potato as you can scoff. Plain with just butter/milk works best for variation 1. For variation 2, I mixed in a touch of wholegrain mustard and some finely-grated veggie parmesan. I always use industrial amounts of black pepper!
Variation 1 (from a Nigel Slater recipe)
When the potatoes are almost cooked, shred the cavolo nero fairly finely. I’m not used to frying stuff in butter, but I have to admit it did taste good when I cooked the greens in it – they need four to five minutes until they’re tender. If it’s very stalky, cook those first, then addd the leaves for last minute or two. Tip the cavolo nero out and crumble the cheese into the pan (use some more butter if you want to) and let it melt slightly. Nigel Slater’s recipe involved finely chopped rosemary leaves cooked in the butter before you add the cheese, but I didn’t have any to hand and I thought the recipe was fine without it. Mash the potatoes, make a well in the middle, then pile on the cavolo nero. Tip the blue cheese (and any juices left) over the mash.
Variation 2 (from my brother Jon)
Cook and mash the potatoes – and this recipe is more fun if you add something to the mash. My brother recommended strong cheddar or wholegrain mustard, but I’m trying to limit how much cheese I have, so I went for about half a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, and a couple of tablespoons of vegetarian parmesan. It’s easy to make this variation vegan by using dairy-free spread, and by leaving cheese out of the mash. You could maybe chop spring onions finely and add them instead, or make garlic mash, or even use some horseradish.
Wilt the spinach and lift out of the pan. Add the juice of half a lemon and a knob of butter to the liquid and whisk. Make a well and tip the juices over the spinach and the mash.
This second variation is in the photo – and apologies for the shadows. That’s what comes of trying to take pix on a winter night!