It was autumn and I had promised to make dinner. He remarked, please, anything but a cold salad. That was it. Anything but a cold salad for dinner.
This man knew my habits well. Believe it or not, a hearty salad ( still) is my favorite type of meal. The fact that he didn’t want to eat one didn’t bother me, that day. Somehow, I didn’t feel like eating a mix of veggies, grains and leaves either. I’ll improvise something, I replied. Next thing I knew, I was buying a bag of creamy potatoes at the supermarket. And kale. And two sausages.
This wouldn’t have been strange hadn’t I been:
a) a vegetarian
b) a non-lover of potatoes
I stopped eating meat at as young an age as 16. I don’t cook meat for other people either. But I knew my Dutch boyfriend was crazy about stamppot with sausage. There was no way I could prepare this dish and not buy sausages for him.
As a child, one of my favorite meals included mashed potatoes. I’m not sure when did I switch to dis-loving them but I guess it must have happened on the exact moment I found it’s sister sweet potato made for way tastier meals. It is wired enough when I want to eat regular potatoes nowadays. How I spontaneously started making stamppot on a random autumn evening remains a complete mistery.
I didn’t follow a recipe. I followed my gut. One detail: I’m Portuguese. So the cooking gut usually works – and, anyways, I grew up watching my mother making potato puree, which is sort of the same idea.
In this situation I decided to add both kale and carrots to the potato mash, just because I’m all into diversity. In Portugal we add milk to our pureed version as well, and make it perfectly creamy. But I had learned from a cook friend that the Dutch don’t use milk in their stamppot – and that info literally saved my dish. I added a little bit of water from the boiled carrots to the mash, and lots of butter and garlic, while using a potato masher. I incorporated the boiled carrots and the raw kale. And the magic happened.
Technically you should call this a boerenkool-hutspot stamppot – if that is even possible. For the ones unfamiliar with the Dutch cuisine, stamppot refers to a general mash potato dish. Boerenkool refers to the same, but with kale, and in hutspot people combine potato with carrots. The dish I cooked might be too busy for some purists.
You should have seen the face of my then-boyfriend when he arrived home. I think I never saw such an expression of enthusiasm on him. Boerenkool! Met worst!, he cried. And this state of infatuation lasted the entire evening. I really don’t grasp why do people refer to the heart when they talk about love. It would be so much more sensible to just say “belly”.