Mashed Cauliflower Colcannon {+Almond Orchard Experience}

I may be risking a bolt of lightning from my Irish ancestors for this Mashed Cauliflower with Kale, but it turned out so deliciously that it’s a chance I am willing to take. A healthy, low-carb, and (gasp!) vegan twist on colcannon, a classic Irish potato-based dish, this mashed cauliflower ditches the spuds and butter in favor of lighter ingredients. It has all the creamy, soulful comfort of the traditional recipe that inspired it, but it is gloriously guilt free.

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower Colcannon. A low carb version of traditional Irish potatoes colcannon, made with kale and mashed cauliflower! This healthy Paleo recipe tastes decadent but is completely guilt free. Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day or anytime you need a simple side dish. Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze.

Like many classic Irish foods, traditional colcannon is of the “stick-to-your-ribs” variety. A textbook recipe for it would include mashed potatoes, kale (or cabbage), cream and butter, and a mix of leeks, green onions, and/or chives. It’s starchy and warming, but it’s a lot heavier than what I’m looking for in my vegetables most nights.

Because colcannon, while heavy, is yummy, and because St. Patrick’s Day is coming up this week, I decided to see if I could employ a popular culinary trick—swapping low-calorie, low-carb mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes—to make a healthy version of Irish colcannon that will still be creamy and satisfying.

Not only did the swap work, this “Irish Mashed Cauliflower” turned out to be one of my favorite side dishes in a long, long time.

Whether you are looking to please picky eaters, sneak a few extra vegetables into your diet, or freshen up your side-dish routine, this Mashed Cauliflower with Kale does not disappoint.

Paleo Colcannon. A healthy low carb version of traditional Irish colcannon that uses mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes. The green kale and onions make it a perfect recipe for St. Patrick’s Day! {vegan, gluten free} Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

I didn’t originally intend for this mashed cauliflower to be vegan or dairy free. In fact, I didn’t think I’d be able to create the comforting vibe I was after without the help of at least a liiiiiittle bit of butter and heavy cream.

Or could I?

Midway through making it, I felt the pull of experimentation. I decided to see what would happen if I replaced the butter with olive oil and the heavy cream with Almond Breeze Almondmilk Unsweetened Original. It’s only 30 calories per serving but is so creamy that I can use it to create dishes that taste decadent but are significantly lighter than their originals (this Healthy Chicken Pot Pie is another prime example).

Almond orchard and a low carb mashed cauliflower recipe with kale and leeks

In addition to the almondmilk, I used a traditional colcannon trio of kale, leeks, and green onion. I love the texture of the hearty kale contrasted with the creamy mashed cauliflower, as well as its green color for St. Patrick’s Day. The leeks and green onions give the mashed cauliflower a bright spring flavor, and the extra hit of green makes this colcannon even more festive.

My final trick to making this vegan mashed cauliflower taste rich despite being dairy free is nutritional yeast. I’d seen it used in vegan recipes for ages but only recently tried it for myself. I love it! In addition to offering a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and protein, nutritional yeast provides a lightly salty, “cheesy” flavor to dishes. I found that two tablespoons were just the somethin’ somethin’ this low-carb cauliflower mash needed to taste a little naughty, despite being nothing but nice.

Creamy low carb mashed cauliflower with kale. A Paleo, vegan twist on traditional Irish colcannon that uses mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes! Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

For those of you wondering about what looks like a pat butter in the photos, it’s actually a bit of vegan buttery spread that I added for the sake of taste testing and to help convey visually the comfort food feeling this recipe offers. In the end, I loved it just as much without.

Low Carb Irish “Colcannon”. Like traditional Irish colcannon, but made with mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes. Perfect St. Patrick’s Day recipe! Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

Developing recipes gives me the opportunity to thoughtfully consider each ingredient and how what I add to a recipe impacts the recipe as a whole. Food nerd that I am, I also love diving into the components of the individual ingredients themselves.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take a firsthand look at an ingredient I use every single day, Almond Breeze Almondmilk. In addition to using it in recipes such as today’s mashed cauliflower, I reach for almondmilk for my cereal and smoothies. When Almond Breeze invited me to California to visit the almond orchards where almondmilk begins, I couldn’t jump on the plane fast enough.

Almond Orchard + Vegan Mashed Cauliflower Recipe

One of the first things I learned is that Almond Breeze is a part of the Blue Diamond Grower’s co-op, which was founded in 1910. The co-op is owned by more than half of California’s almond growers, who produce a whopping 80+ percent of the world almond supply. All of the almonds that go into Blue Diamond products, be they for Almond Breeze almondmilk or for use in snack-style products like this addictive little number, are grown in California, and the majority of orchards are family operated. We visited a family orchard outside of Sacramento and were lucky to be there right as the almond trees were blooming. It was stunning. 

Almond orchard in bloom and a low carb cauliflower mash recipe

So many elements of this trip struck me, including just how complex growing almonds truly is. To have a healthy crop, growers need to be conscious of so many nuances that I never would have imagined. Everything from location and temperature of the bees that pollinate the blooms (bees don’t like weather that’s too hot, too cold, or too windy), to the types of plants that are allowed to grow as ground cover around the trees (I thought it was just plain old clover—wrong!), to pest prevention must be carefully monitored and continually adjusted.Almond Orchard tour and a recipe for mashed cauliflowerThroughout the orchard tour, I couldn’t help but remark at the growers’ dedication to their crop and their land. Producing the highest-quality almonds in the most sustainable way possible was a clear, deep passion that each of them held. The growers were committed to ensuring that the best possible almonds made it into my almondmilk and saw themselves as stewards of the land itself.

To complement the beauty of the fields, the growers served us a fresh, almond-centric meal in a setting I can only describe as straight out of Instagram. All of the dishes were delicious, but my favorite had to be the almond pear tart. I took a slice thinking I’d just have a piece but…I think you know how that ended.Barn lunch and a recipe for vegan mashed cauliflowerThanks to my orchard tour, when I open my refrigerator and see almondmilk sitting quietly on my shelf, I will no longer view it as simply a carton. It’s the end of a long line of efforts by many individuals and by nature as well.

Our orchard tour group: Maria, yours truly, Alyssa, Heidi, Monique, Jeanine

Thanks so much to Almond Breeze for this unique experience…and for making my Irish Mashed Cauliflower Colcannon so wonderfully creamy too!

For a step-by-step of how to make this Mashed Cauliflower Colcannon recipe, watch this short video:


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Creamy Mashed Cauliflower Colcannon

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower Colcannon. A low-carb, vegan version of traditional Irish colcannon, made with kale and mashed cauliflower.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 large head)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1/3 cup Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original Unsweetened
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or melted and cooled coconut oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast*
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups finely chopped kale leaves (about 1 bunch; be sure to remove the tough stems)
  • 4 medium green onions, finely chopped
  • Optional: vegan buttery spread, such as Earth Balance, for serving (or butter if the recipe being vegan is not a concern)

Directions:

  1. Place the cauliflower florets in a large pot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, then bring to a boil. Let boil until fork-tender, about 6 minutes. Drain, then transfer to a food processor fitted with a steel blade or a blender. Add an additional 1/2 teaspoon salt, almondmilk, 1 tablespoon olive oil, nutritional yeast, and black pepper. Blend until smooth.
  2. Meanwhile, in the same pot you used to cook the cauliflower (or a large nonstick skillet if you prefer to save time and cook the veggies simultaneously), heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, then add the kale, remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/3 cup water. Cover the pot and let cook over medium, lifting up the lid and stirring occasionally, until the kale is wilted and tender, about 4 additional minutes.
  3. Stir in the reserved cauliflower puree and half of the green onions. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as desired. Serve warm, topped with the remaining green onions and butter.
  • If you do not have or wish to purchase nutritional yeast, you can swap finely grated Parmesan or simply omit it.
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water with a bit of extra almondmilk splashed in to keep the mixture from becoming dry. I have not yet tried freezing this recipe but think that the texture might be negatively affected.
All images and text ©/Well Plated.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size: 1 (of 4)

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 177 Calories
  • Total Fat: 11g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Sodium: 428mg
  • Carbohydrates: 16g
  • Fiber: 6g
  • Sugar: 6g
  • Protein: 7g

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

I am sharing this post in partnership with Almond Breeze. As always, all opinions are my own, and thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue creating quality content for you!

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

27 comments

  1. LOVE that you used Almond Breeze and nutritional yeast!

  2. I LOVED watching your fun adventure. I also LOOOOOVE both Almond Breeze and nutritional yeast, so this is most definitely happening!

  3. I think that vegan colcannon is simply brilliant! I am crazy for Almond Breeze and I’m a total nutritional yeast head, so this is happening soon!

  4. I love nutritional yeast and I love that combo of kale, leeks, and green onion- so much flavor!

  5. I love how you lightened this up – I usually avoid Colcannon because it’s just so heavy but I am totally going to make this!

  6. This looks great! Do you think I could substitute baby spinach for the kale?

    • Hi Steffi, I think that would work! Spinach will cook much more quickly than kale, though, so you should adjust accordingly. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  7. Shawnna Griffin Reply

    hey girl- this looks so good! And that orchard looks amazing!

  8. This post was amazing!! I had no idea what went into growing almonds…. heck, I didn’t even know what an almond tree looked like until today! It sounds like such an awesome trip! :D

  9. Beautiful comfort food. Such a great way to use cauliflower (:

  10. Pinterest pin for this recipe? 

    • Hi Melissa, to pin the recipe, you can hover over the image you’d like to pin and click the Pinterest icon in the top right corner. There’s also a toolbar that pops up as you scroll on the left side of the screen that you can use for pinning too!

  11. I’m so ready for delicious St. Patrick’s Day recipes!!! 

  12. This is the coolest colcannon recipe I’ve ever seen. Your trip looks like it was so much fun. Great group of gals too.

  13. Made this tonight because I happened to have cauliflower and kale that needed to be used up – what a fantastic recipe!! I didn’t have any leeks so I subbed onions, but the flavor profile is fabulous and it feels so comforting, yet I know it’s chock full of nutrition. I would serve this as a creamed spinach alternative at any family holiday – well done! :) 

    Rating: 5
    • Thank you so much, Rachel! I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it, and I appreciate your taking the time to share these tweaks and feedback!

  14. We have this in the Netherlands as well. We call it boerenkoolstamppot. If you want a little extra bite to it, add piccalilly. And if you’re not into vegan, add bacon bits. 

  15. Made this last night.  Hub, who prefers potatoes,loved it.  We’re vegetarians and this was our main course, served with asparagus and spinach salad.  Lots of leafy green veg there.

    Rating: 5
    • I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the dish! Your whole meal sounds delicious. Thank you so much for giving the recipe a try and reporting back!

  16. This looks so good! Thanks for sharing :)

  17. Made this as part of my weekend cooking plans (I cook several meals for the week ahead). Love cauliflower and never heard of nutritional yeast before (my husband’s tummy thanks you!). What a wonderful side dish to the other items we made. Even my picky daughter loved the peppery-ness of the dish, thanks to the kale.

    Rating: 4.5
    • Michelle, I’m so glad the recipe was a hit! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this awesome review!

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