I’m not sure why green is the colour of St. Patrick’s Day, but it probably has to do with the fact that clover leaves are green, as is the grass that is abundant in the wet island country called Ireland.
Since March 17 is the anniversary of the death of St. Patrick, a patron saint of Ireland, it is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated not only in Ireland, but also in many other countries where the Irish have settled.
In any case, even beer is often dyed green in celebration of St. Paddy’s Day in many pubs, so it’s a tradition I’m not about to buck.
In keeping with the green theme, try serving green food on March 17. Not only will you be keeping up a tradition, you’ll also likely be serving healthful foods to your loved ones, because there are lots of good-for-you foods that just happen to be green, including beans, cabbage, asparagus, onions, celery, peas, spinach, lettuce and all sorts of other salad leaves.
Easy, isn’t it?
Since the potato is also a popular item on the Irish menu, you can even combine green with potatoes, so a very appropriate meal.
Both these recipes happen to be vegetarian too, but there are options for adding meat to both if you feel you need to.
Going green is especially easy in spring with so many fresh sprouts poking up from the ground.
For a variety of other recipes for fresh greens, pick up a copy of my book, Jude’s Kitchen, available wherever books are sold.
Jan’s Balinese Salad with Peanut Dressing
Jan’s recipe for this peanut dressing is to die for. I wouldn’t substitute a purchased one. And, there’ll be enough left over to do what we did: chop up some boneless chicken and saute it in a pan, adding the leftover peanut dressing to warm through. Pour it all over a huge heaping pile of fresh, baby spinach and enjoy.
4 oz. (100 g) fresh green beans
4 oz. (100 g) fresh bean sprouts
4 oz. (100 g) fresh spinach
4 oz. (100 g) green cabbage
2 tbsp. (30 ml) fried onions
2 tbsp. (30 ml) roasted peanuts
pinch of salt
You may substitute fresh asparagus when it’s ready locally. Cut either the trimmed green beans or asparagus into one-inch pieces and steam briefly, then immerse in cold water to stop them from cooking further, and drain.
Rinse the bean sprouts and spinach, and you may wish to briefly wilt the spinach and cool.
Finely slice the cabbage and blanch.
Fry onions until crisp or purchase them.
Finely chop peanuts.
Pat cooled vegetables dry and toss in a serving bowl, ready to add the dressing just before serving. Top with the crisp-fried onions and crunchy peanuts.
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp. (30 ml) grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 c. (350 ml) salted, roasted peanuts
1-3 Thai chilies
2 tbsp. (30 ml) sweet soya sauce
2 tbsp. (30 ml) palm or brown sugar
1 c. (250 ml) water
Peel garlic cloves and crush. Grate fresh ginger. Add to blender with remaining ingredients. Don’t add all the water at first. Add the remainder at the end, to achieve the consistency you desire.
You may substitute bottled hot sauce for the fresh chilies, and you may wish to remove the seeds from the fresh chilies if using them. If using bottled hot sauce, add it at the end so you can adjust the amount to your taste.
Blend until the ingredients are all finely ground.
Makes about 3 cups. Keeps well refrigerated.
Spuds Stuffed with Green
Stuffed potatoes can be a nutritious light meal or lunch all by themselves, with cheese and other vegetables added to them. And, they’re delicious. The possibilities are endless when you consider the combinations of flavours that are possible. Think carmelized onions and fried mushrooms; ham bits and swiss cheese with the spinach, or whatever your favourite flavours are.
4 medium russet potatoes
1/4 c. (60 ml) sweet onion
3 c. (375 ml) fresh spinach
1/2 minced jalapeno
2 tbsp. (30 ml) pepperoni
1/3 c. (75 ml) fresh parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. (45 ml) cream cheese
salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Scrub potatoes and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until soft enough to scoop out the insides.
Mince sweet onion, spinach and jalapeno pepper and set aside. (use as much or as little hot pepper as you wish.)
Mince the pepperoni and grate the fresh parmesan and set aside separately.
While the potatoes are baking, barely wilt the spinach in the microwave oven in a medium-sized glass bowl and add the minced onions, jalapeno, pepperoni and cream cheese and mix well, until the cream cheese has melted.
Remove the spuds and cool enough so you can slice each in half and carefully scoop out the flesh inside the skin, leaving a quarter-inch or so all around, as your shell.
Add it to the bowl with the spinach, and crush and mix.
Sprinkle the shells with salt and pepper.
Carefully spoon the filling back into the potato shells and top the mounds with grated fresh parmesan cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes more or until the cheese melts and browns. You may have to put them under the broiler for a minute or two.