I may be risking a bolt of lightning from my Irish ancestors for this Mashed Cauliflower Colcannon with kale, but it turned out so deliciously that it’s a chance I am willing to take.

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

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.

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.

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?

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

The Trick to Making Mashed Cauliflower Colcannon Dairy Free

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 milk.

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

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

More Healthy Cauliflower Recipes

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

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower Colcannon

4.75 from 4 votes
Creamy Mashed Cauliflower Colcannon. A low-carb, vegan version of traditional Irish colcannon, made with kale and mashed cauliflower.

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 35 mins

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 6 cups cauliflower florets about 1 large head
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt divided
  • 1/3 cup  unsweetened almond milk
  • 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)

Instructions
 

  • 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, almond milk, 1 tablespoon olive oil, nutritional yeast, and black pepper. Blend until smooth.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Notes

  • 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 177kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 7gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 428mgFiber: 6gSugar: 6g

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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33 Comments

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

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

    1. 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!

  4. 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

    1. 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!

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

  6. 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! :) 5 stars

    1. 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!

  7. 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. 

  8. 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.5 stars

    1. 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!

  9. 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.4 stars

    1. Michelle, I’m so glad the recipe was a hit! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this awesome review!

    2. I was wondering how the substitution of cabbage for kale works in this recipe? Is Kale so much better? I’m not a huge fan of kale.

      1. Hi Jean! To clarify, are you asking if you can use cabbage in this recipe instead? If so, I haven’t tried this swap myself, but you could experiment with it. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

    1. I’m so pleased to hear that this recipe was a hit, Doris! Thank you for sharing this kind review!

  10. Hi Erin, I’m excited to try this. Is there a reason you used almond milk instead of regular milk in this recipe? I don’t have use for almond milk but if the taste benefits from almond milk could I used regular milk, then grate some almonds and use that as a substitute? Thanks so much for all you do to share delicious gems with us!

    1. Hi Rhonda! I just prefer using unsweetened almond milk but I’d recommend using regular cow’s milk if almond milk isn’t an option. I hope this helps!