st patrick's day salads and dishes
make everyday st paddy's day
The colours on our tricolour are green for the republicans, orange for those loyal to the UK crown and white in the middle for peace between the two communities that are intrinsic to modern Ireland.
There are symbols that are immediately associated with both sides of the spectrum such as shamrocks, harps, shillelaghs (the crooked, knobbly walking sticks favoured mostly by leprechauns), Kiss Me Quick I’m Irish hats, celtic crosses and intricately woven patterns on stone, gold and silver, dinners of bacon, cabbage and spuds, a yummy mash that’s called Colcannon in some parts of the country and affectionately known as Pandy in other parts. And finally there are pints of the black stuff and shots of Uisce Beatha or Whiskey to the uninitiated.
On the island at least, some symbols remain instantly, and to some provocatively rather than simply evocatively, representative of particular parts of the community – such as Lambeg drums with the loyalists and bodhráns with the republicans – and it’s a credit to the progressive elements of both sides that much has been achieved in marrying the two great traditions in dynamic harmony.
So, to get yourself in shape to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in fine fettle, I’ve come up with a few Irish salads and dishes that’ll have you jumping with energy and vitality.
Dark green leafy salads are great natural sources of folic acid, iron, copper, magnesium and niacin (for healthy blood vessels, bones, teeth, your digestive and nervous systems, and using energy properly – all of which you will put to the test on a well-spent St Patrick’s Day).
Water cress, spinach, rocket and lambs leaf lettuce are great inclusions in salads for the vitamins your body will need for the long day’s carousing. For crunch, there’s pak choy, cabbage, the heart of little gem salad plants, chicory and chards. (Okay, okay, so little gem and chicory are white to pale green, but they’re delish so get with the programme, people.)
Citrus or vinaigrette dressings are the key to lifting bland salad leaves out of the doldrums. Occasionally cutting oil from the dressing blend is a matter of taste or dietary requirements, particularly when you want to add other ingredients that have an inherent fat content (however negligible considering the small amounts used here), such as the oils in nuts or eggs.
one head of pak choy, two heads of chicory, sprinklings of pine nuts, cubes of feta Greek cheese or white goat’s cheese,
two oranges or four satsumas (clementines or mandarins) and seasoning to taste. Wash and chop the nuts, leaves and oranges, reserving one orange for its juice. Juice the remaining orange and toss over the other ingredients.
My mother used to make this mixture and I've come across it recently in sandwich platters. [Picture it: it's late into the night of the celebration: a wedding/anniversary/ 21st/whateverparty, you miss the cocktail sausages cos you are up on the floor when the food arrives. These juicy sangers are the ones to snaffle instead of the dry chicken or delish but smelly egg ones.]
Anyway, roughly chop tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, the heart of little gem lettuce leaves and boiled eggs. The secret to its authenticity as summer salad is that you use Chef Salad Cream rather than mayo.
To make this suitable for Paddy’s Day, amend the ingredients to adhere to the colour palette: cucumbers, onions, orange and green bell peppers (capiscums), strips of raw carrot (julienne), lettuce leaves and a smidgen of Salad Cream to bind the mixture together.
Sticking with our palette of green, white and orange there's a soup you could add to your celebrations that takes minutes to prepare. Seconds, if you're in a hot country because you don't even have to heat it up. A seriously delicious soup made by Cully and Scully, offspring of our 'slow food' Allen dynasty in Cork, could be a show stopper for time-pressed hosts or hostesses. The Cully and Sully minty pea soup is thick and full flavoured for green; its winter vegetable soup is white; and its "full-bodied vegetable soup" is a little of a misnomer, for it's a creamy and smooth orange coloured soup, not as I imagined a chunky winter broth of the veg. In Ireland it's sold in romantic packs for two people, but it was so tempting I horsed both portions. It's a healthy choice for a starter as the brand is well trusted here as being dedicated to organic practices.