While you may be thumbing through Irish coffee recipes or reacquainting yourself with the best way to prepare corned beef right about now, we’ve got another suggestion for you. Diners are eating more greens than ever, and St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to give them what they want – a plate that’s loaded with plant-based goodness.
In fact, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, two out of every three Americans are eating less of at least one type of meat. The survey also reported that 55 percent of Americans said they are reducing their consumption of processed meat and 41 percent are cutting back on red meat. That means that this year could be the one to keep the holiday “green” with plant-based options.
Start with potatoes
Potatoes may be the vegetable most closely associated with Irish cuisine and culture. Here’s a fun fact to share with customers while they’re deciding what to order: The potato was introduced to Ireland in 1586 by an American, Sir Walter Raleigh. These days, you have so many delicious potato varieties from which to choose. For a quick-prep option, use baby Ruby Gold Potatoes, which are delicious when steamed and served with olive oil or butter. For a wonderful visual contrast, serve them as a combo side with baby purple potatoes, and you’ll have the beginnings of a veritable rainbow right on the plate (pot of gold not included).
“Can you tell I love cabbage?”
Cabbage sometimes gets a bad rap from folks who’ve spent years being forced to eat the overcooked, boiled stuff. But the nutrition-packed vegetable deserves another chance. In a recent food trend article in Forbes, caterer Robin Selden noted, “Like kale, it holds up to dressing and remains crunchy for a slaw or salad. It’s awesome fermented, pickled and sautéed, pairs well as a side for fish, meat or chicken, and is great to add crunch in tacos, sandwiches or bao. Can you tell I love cabbage?”
Introduce your diners to a whole new world of cabbage love with varieties like Savoy and Napa, both of which are great in stir fries. A “Leprechaun Slaw” can go heavy on this superfood in its raw form (see our recipe below). Add some beans for a low-cost, easy-prep protein power addition. If you’ve started an in-house pickling or fermentation program, cabbage is the ideal vegetable for a tangy garnish or side.
If you’d like to combine these ingredients in an authentic way, take a tip from Irish-born chef Luke Kyle, co-owner and executive chef of Twin Cities’ restaurant Anchor Fish & Chips. Potatoes Colcannon is one of his favorite potato-cabbage combos. “You can mash the potatoes with any vegetable. It’s traditionally made with cabbage, but you could try leeks or kale, too. That way, you can get in that bit of ‘green’ customers expect, but keep things more authentic, too.”
With potatoes and cabbage at the center of your plant-powered St. Patrick’s Day menu, you’ll have a hearty and nutritious start that gives your diners a fresh take on a holiday’s classic dishes.