Mash can be one of the most indulgent dishes in the world. Joël Robuchon, a man with over twenty michelin stars in his trophy cabinet, serves a world famous and breathtakingly rich mashed potato in his restaurants, showing that the humble mash can be at the top of the game when treated with respect. Mash of any kind is ridiculously simple to make and a brilliant mode of transport for playing around with ingredients. It’s a perfect winter side, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a gourmet mash trend happen at some point in the future, because it’s such a great blank canvas for other flavours.
Not that it’s free from bad press, the bottom end of the mash market isn’t particularly pretty if we’re honest. Just look at Smash, the instant mashed potato in a pot beholden to student halls of residence across the country, well, at least it was in the 90’s & 00’s, do students still eat it now? Wikipedia reckons an astonishing 140 million portions are sold in the UK each year, so some of those must be students. I also have vague memories of school dinners featuring vast, intercontinental trays of thick potato paste with a tough skin thanks to several hours waiting to be served or sitting under hot lamps at the pass for way too long.
Enough of the dodgy stuff, because today I’m going to make some of the good stuff, sage and swede mash. Swede has a lovely, sweet flavour when cooked and doesn’t deserve to be overlooked, as it sometimes is. Swede also happens to enjoy the company of both nutmeg and sage which give this humble veg dish a serious amount of depth and flavour, about as far from school dinners as you could get.
Now, you can do this two ways, either roasted or boiled. Roasting gives you a sweeter, rounder flavour and a beautifully rich colour, so is my preferred method. If you make sure a few of the edges get a bit burned, you get those oh-so-delicious sweet chewy chunks in the mash and rough, chunky mash is exactly where it’s at for home cooked food. However, if you’re pushed for time or space in the oven, boiling still works well and makes this a very quick prep recipe. Contrary to Monsieur Robuchon’s recipe, I’ve opted for olive oil and in considerably healthier quantities because it works well with the sage and if I’m honest, I just prefer olive oil to butter if possible.
So next time you’re in the supermarket, pondering down the vegetable aisle, don’t just walk past these purple-yellow roots and ignore their presence, pick one up and embrace their sweet side!
Dairy free sage and swede mash
By Gavin Wren
Uses 1 pot or baking tray and a masher
1kg swede, peeled and cubed into 1cm pieces
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
5 large Sage leaves, finely chopped, plus a little extra for garnish.
0.25 teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
If you are boiling the swede, place in a pan with lightly salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, then drain in a sieve and leave to strain for 1 minute to ensure that as much water is removed as possible.
Once you’ve cooked your swede in your desired method, add it to a pan with the sage, nutmeg, olive oil and season well. Mash thoroughly until smooth then serve garnished with a bit of extra chopped sage.