I often hear folks say that it’s difficult to eat enough vegetables in the winter. Many of us crave warm, dense foods at this time of year, which I think is natural: they help to keep us grounded and brace us against the cold. Vegetables don’t always fit the bill, or maybe they could, but it’s not immediately clear how to prepare them in a really soulful, comforting way. Last weekend, in the middle of all-day snow and freezing temperatures, I whipped up these simple, loaded garlic kale potatoes. They felt like the best of both worlds: comfort food that was also packed with nutritious, leafy greens.
Part of what I love about this recipe is that it has stick-to-your-ribs appeal, but it’s a lot less labor-intensive than making a fancy casserole or gratin or some other baked dish. Russet potatoes and garlic roast at the same time, and when they’re finished you squeeze the sweet, tender roasted garlic cloves right into the potato flesh and mash away. You add chopped, steamed kale, top with a bit of vegan parm, and transfer everything to the broiler for a couple of minutes.
After that, you’ll have crispy stuffed potato skins with a creamy filling. The kale adds texture to the potatoes, as well as color. The dish reminded me a lot of my kale colcannon, which I love, but with an Italian twist: the delightful combination of roasted garlic and cheesy nutritional yeast.
As you can see, my potatoes got a little burnt (I always underestimate what even a minute too long under the broiler can do), but that ended up being a happy accident: I loved the crispy exterior. I used nutritional yeast in the mashed potatoes themselves, and I used vegan parm on top (my go-to is Go Veggie Foods vegan parmesan). My hempesan would also work really nicely, as would any homemade vegan parm (I’ve made it with walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and lots of other nuts/seeds: essentially you blitz the nuts, nutritional yeast, and some salt in a food processor, and you’re good to go).
This was my first time adding roasted garlic directly to mashed potatoes, and I’m in love. I’ve always added garlic powder in the past, which is fine, but the roasted garlic has a sweeter, deeper flavor. You can use this recipe to make regular mashed potatoes, with or without the kale–though it seems like a shame to waste the crispy potato skins as a handy vessel.
Loaded Garlic Kale Potatoes
- 1 large head or 2 small heads garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- 4 small to medium-sized russet potatoes scrubbed and pricked
- 1/2-1 cup unsweetened almond or soy milk as needed
- 1-2 tablespoons vegan buttery spread or additional olive oil to taste
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- Fine salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/2 bunch kale stems removed and finely chopped (about 6-8 ounces, or 5-6 cups)
- 4 tablespoons vegan parmesan I love Go Veggie vegan parm, homemade hempesan topping, nutritional yeast, or breadcrumbs
- Preheat your oven to 400F. Cut the top of the garlic head off crosswise, so that the cloves are exposed. Rub the half teaspoon olive oil over the cloves, then wrap the head of garlic in foil. Place the garlic and the four potatoes onto a baking sheet. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the potatoes are completely fork tender. Remove the potatoes and garlic from the oven. Allow the potatoes to cool for about 10 minutes, until they can be handled. Raise the oven temperature to a broil.
- About 15 minutes before the potatoes and garlic are ready, bring a pot of water to boil with a steamer attachment. Steam the chopped kale till tender (about 3 minutes).
- Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to gently scoop the flesh out, making sure not to break the skins. Transfer the potato flesh to a mixing bowl. Squeeze the roasted garlic right into the potato; the cloves should be very soft and slip out of the skin easily when you give it a good squeeze.
- Add the non-dairy milk (starting with 1/2 cup), vegan buttery spread (I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons), and the nutritional yeast to the potato/garlic mixture. Use a potato masher or a large fork to mash the potatoes, adding extra non-dairy milk as needed to achieve a creamy texture. The potatoes should be a bit chunkier and less fluffy than traditional mashed potatoes, but the garlic should be well incorporated; if any cloves are hard to mash, you can use the back of a fork to break them down. Taste the potatoes and add salt and pepper as needed. Fold in the kale, taste again, and adjust seasonings to taste.
- Scoop the potato/kale mixture into the empty potato skins. Top each with about a half tablespoon of vegan parmesan, hempesan, nutritional yeast, or breadcrumbs. Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 5 minutes, or until the tops of the potatoes are crispy and gently golden. Serve.
This recipe that calls for a little kitchen intuition. If your potatoes are on the bigger side, you’ll probably need more almond or soy milk. I also recommend tasting the mashed potatoes before and after you add the kale, so that everything is nicely seasoned. Feel free to add fresh herbs, like parsley, or dried herbs, like oregano, to the potatoes, too. I’d love to try my next batch with oregano and thyme as well as the garlic.
And it’s worth saying that any leafy green–from broccoli rabe to chard to collards–would work well in the recipe. You can also used finely chopped broccoli or broccolini, if that’s what you have. You can serve the them as a side dish, or you can pair them with soup or salad for an easy, but very comforting, meal.
Winter is here to stay, at least in my neck of the woods, but this kind of food makes me feel ready for it. I’m wishing you all warmth and comfort, and I’ll be back on Friday with a special giveaway.