As an expat in the Netherlands, it is said that one of the essential tools for true integration is a masher. This is one of many bizarre traditions and habits I have had the pleasure to be exposed to (others include chocolate sprinkles on toast, pieces of orange clothes, meat dishes sold in vending machines, not using umbrellas when it rains and words which have no translation in English such as gezellig and lekker).
So I bought myself a masher in the hope of confirming my gradual integration into this great culture. The first dish for my masher; Stamppot! My lovely Dutch colleagues said if I was going to cook something Dutch, it would have to be this. Stamppot is a traditional Dutch dish and is especially popular in the winter because it is such a warming and hearty meal. In Holland, you would normally serve this with a big fat delicious sausage however I obviously cannot do this so am going to substitute with some sautéed brussels sprouts which will give saltiness and added flavour to the dish.
Even better, kale and brussels sprouts are both part of the cruciferous family, a group of superfoods which are hugely abundant in vitamins, minerals and fibre. Health advocates state that you should include these foods into your diet several times a week. So, this meal will not only help dutchify you but will also help you out on your cruciferous intake!
The beauty of this dish is its flexibility so feel free to mix in whatever you like. Use leftovers and whatever you have in your fridge as your inspiration.
Stamppot (mashed potatoes and kale)
(Preparation time: 5 minutes, cooking time: 25 minutes)
5-6 medium sized potatoes, pealed and cut into cubes (either Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes are the best for mashing)
1 bay leaf
2 large handfuls of kale, finely chopped
½ cup of milk
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper
Heat up enough water to cover the potatoes in a medium sized pan and salt well. Place the cubed potatoes and bay leaf in and cook gently for 20 minutes. Add the chopped up kale and cook for another 5 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked. Drain the potatoes and kale, reserving a cup of the potato water. Return the potatoes and kale to the pan, remove the bay leaf, add the milk and butter and mash to a consistency that suits you. You can use some of the reserved potato water if you need to thin out the mash. Season to your liking and serve with:
Sautéed brussels sprouts with walnuts
(Preparation time: 5 minutes, cooking time: 10 minutes)
1 red onion, sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
500g of brussels sprouts
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
To prepare the brussel sprouts, cut the bottoms off, slice in half and discard any outer layers that fall off. In a saucepan, heat up a good lug of olive oil and fry the onions. Add a teaspoon of sugar to ensure the onions caramelise. When they begin to colour add the brussels sprouts and garlic and stir them around the pan gently so that they evenly brown. Season with salt and pepper. Fry for 5 minutes and when the pan becomes dry, add half a cup of hot water (or use the boiled potato water from above). Cook for another 5 minutes or until the water has been soaked up by the brussels sprouts. Add the walnuts and fry for another 3 minutes for the walnuts to roast and the sprouts to golden. Make sure you don’t burn or overcook the brussels sprouts as they will become bitter. Enjoy with some Stamppot!