Potato, Kale, Two Cheese and Walnut Bake - 'From Tunnel to Table' Vegetarian recipe for Christmas.

 Garnished with pomegranate seeds and served with seasonal green side salad or Brussels sprouts

Potato, kale, Two Cheese and Walnut Bake - garnished with pomegranate seeds and surrounded by salad leaves

 Potato, kale, Two Cheese and Walnut Bake - garnished with pomegranate seeds and surrounded by salad leaves


Seasonal vegetables used from the polytunnel are kale, potatoes, red onions and garlic for the main dish, with a side salad of seasonal leaves including watercress, chicory, lettuce, spinach, beetroot leave, baby chard, endive etc. All of the ingredients are seasonal, local and widely available if you don't grow your own. Only the pomegranates and possible the walnuts are imported


The cheeses which I used are the incomparable, World Cheese Awards Gold Medal-winning, Cashel Blue Organic, available on line here: https://www.thelittlemilkcompany.ie/products/organic-blue  - and an excellent extra-mature, organic cheddar from Sainsbury's 


This delicious gourmet potato bake is deceptively simple to make, but full of flavour, and packed with healthy nutrients. With plenty of protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytonutrients, it is perfect for a festive dinner party or special occasion dressed up with a colourful garnish of ruby pomegranate seeds, and surrounded by an abundance of green winter salads - or alternatively served with a side dish of Brussels sprouts.


It can be made ahead to save time on the day, chilled for a day or two, and reheated whenever you wish. Doing this lowers its carbohydrate content by about 50%, and increases it's gut-healthy, resistant starch content, by a process known as retrogradation - described here: http://nickykylegardening.com/index.php/recipes/572-my-version-of-a-spanish-tortilla-using-carb-lowered-potatoes-and-carb-lowered-potato-ratatouille-two-from-tunnel-to-table-recipes-for-midsummer-using-a-process-known-as-retrogradation


Perfect as a festive vegetarian main dish - it also makes a good side dish to accompany Christmas meats such as turkey and ham or other meats. It also makes a very satisfying meat-free lunch or supper dish at any time of year.


It’s even more delicious cold - when it slices neatly and easily just like a cake - and goes very well with salads as part of a cold buffet. (I’ve even been known to eat it for breakfast!) A mixture of different coloured potatoes looks especially nice when it's cut into slices for eating cold.


It could be made into a  vegan dish by substituting vegetable stock for the cream, adding more nuts and perhaps some lentils, and leaving out the cheese or using a vegan alternative


The pomegranate seed* garnish gives a lovely rich seasonal colour and a mouthwatering burst of fresh, fruity flavour, which deliciously offsets and balances the richness of the cheese. Pomegranates are also full of heart-healthy phytochemicals.

*If you find it hard to know where to start with de-seeding a pomegranate without bruising and bursting the seeds - so did I - until I found this brilliant video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGYpk395PUA



An average 22 cm x 7-8 cm deep, round or square baking dish (no shallower or it may boil over!) - with lid if possible (or you can use foil) to bake and serve it in, and a large, deep-sided, frying pan to saute the kale/onion mix


INGREDIENTS (serves 6-12 - depending on whether as a main or a side dish)

(Exact amounts are not critical here - a bit more or less won't matter that much - but don't hold back on the cream and garlic!)

1 kg potatoes, sliced thinly with a knife - you can use a mandoline if you like to give a finer slice - but this is not critical. Waxy ones are good but any kind will do. Coloured potatoes like Violetta look spectacularly festive when this is served, especially if cut into slices when cold for a buffet. You can also use sweet potatoes for making this if you prefer - they are also nice in this. But as they cook faster - cook the kale/onion mix a little more before assembling the dish and make sure that you don't cook the assembled dish too much before adding the cheese, or they may develop a 'pasty' texture when the dish has finished cooking. They may also need just a touch more salt to season them if they are a very sweet variety, as some of the purple ones are.

A bunch of kale (roughly 200g) leaves stripped off the tough stems, washed, spun dry in salad spinner, and chopped. (200 g bags are available from most supermarkets, if you don't grow your own) You could also mix some watercress into this recipe if you like, which adds to the nutrition - or use all watercress if you have enough - it is equally good).

1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium-large red onions (5oz/140g plus) onion, halved, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed, or more if you're like me - I love garlic and normally use 4-5 with this recipe!

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves stripped off the hard stems and chopped.(using fresh rather than dried is important as dried thyme tastes very different)

300 ml cream  

125 g Cheddar cheese grated 

125 g Cashel Blue Organic cheese, crumbled roughly

 1/4 cup/ chopped walnuts - with some halves to decorate the top if you like

1 pomegranate, de-seeded, to garnish (non-organic is fine if you can’t source)

Extra fresh thyme leaves, or other greenery to serve - a red and green garnish looks nice and Christmassy!






1-2. Wilt down first the sliced onion, then add the kale and garlic and toss in a deep frying pan until half-cooked 4. Layer the potatoes then kale, more potatoes then kale, and lastly more potatoes
1-2. Wilt down first the sliced onion, then add the kale and garlic and toss in a deep frying pan until half-cooked 4. Layer the potatoes then kale, more potatoes then kale, and lastly more potatoes
4-5. Pour the cream evenly over the top - it will spread through the layers 6-7-8. Finished bake nicely browned and cooling slightly before being served with salads
4-5. Pour the cream evenly over the top - it will spread through the layers 6-7-8. Finished bake nicely browned and cooling slightly before being served with salads


1. Strip the leafy, softer parts away from the hard, centre stalky bit in the kale leaves and roughly chop them. Discard stems


2. Heat olive oil in a large, deep-sided frying pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onion. Cook for 5-10 minutes or so until limp and translucent. Add the garlic, chopped thyme and kale, and a small pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring, for another 5-10 minutes turning over every minute or so until the kale is well-wilted and changes colour to a darker green. A lid helps to encourage wilting at the start.


3. Preheat oven to 200degC/180degC fan oven. Grease a ? litre capacity casserole or metal baking dish.


4. Assemble.

Arrange the first layer of 1/3 of the sliced potatoes fairly evenly over the base of the prepared dish

Spread ½ the kale/onion mixture over the potato layer - fairly evenly.

Repeat with another layer of 1/3 of the potato.

Spread the rest of the kale mix evenly on that.

Add the remaining 1/3 of potatoes on top as evenly as possible - no need to fuss too much about how you arrange it, as it will all be hidden when it's topped with the cheese.

Season a little more with salt and pepper.

Pour the cream evenly all over the top.


5. Cover tightly with a lid or foil. Bake for 1 hour, or until the potato is just tender in the very centre of the dish, when pierced with sharp knife. (It's a good idea to sit it on a baking tray in case it boils over a bit as it may do - then it won't mess up your oven!)


6. Remove the lid or foil. Sprinkle over the combined cheddar, blue cheese and chopped nuts, adding some more walnut halves to the top if you wish - 8-10 in a circle around the edge looks nice.


7. Bake for a further 20 - 25 minutes or until nicely golden and bubbling.


8. Stand for 10 minutes to allow it to settle before serving - as it will be bubbling and lava-like hot! 

(If pre-cooking and re-heating, about 1/2 an hour to 40 mins at 180degC is about right depending on whether you're heating it from room temperature or chilled - but keep an eye on it to prevent burning. It could alternatively be re-heated in a microwave - but this wouldn't give you the nice crispy top - and you'll have to work out the timing for yourself - as I don't use one!


Before serving, garnish with extra thyme, with some ruby-red pomegranate seeds generously scattered on top - this looks very festive! 

Served with an abundant wreath of salad greenery it looks very seasonal at the festive table. Serve more pomegranate seeds on the side, for people to help themselves if they wish.


As always - all the ingredients I use are organic - but that's up to you. Organic ingredients are scientifically proven to be 60-70 % higher in phytonutrients, far lower in any pesticides and heavy metals - and organic dairy products are also much higher in important Omega 3 fats. 

(Organic pomegranates may be harder to find, but they are available here in Ireland, in the Dublin area, from Denis Healy's Organic Delights stand at several farmers markets - otherwise using non-organic is fine). 


Another reason we eat nothing but organic produce, as well as growing most of my own food organically - is because not only is it better for our health, but it also supports biodiversity and soil, doesn't pollute the environment, and sequesters carbon by returning composts and plant wastes to the soil, thereby helping to mitigate climate change, rather than releasing soil carbon and accelerating it as conventional, fossil-fuel and chemical-based agriculture does. 


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