Today is Saint Patrick’s Day, and people will be donning green and quaffing Guinness to celebrate this quintessential Irish holiday. Although a lot of traditional Irish recipes are quite meat-heavy, there are some great vegan and vegetarian ones as well, and some of the classics can also be veganized with a bit of creativity. Read on to discover 5 meat-free dishes you can create for a good bit o’craic this holiday.
Irish Soda Bread
My Nan’s soda bread used to melt on the tongue, and was absolutely divine when slathered in butter and nibbled on when my face was buried in a book. This recipe is adapted from the one on Hell Yeah It’s Vegan, and although I make mine gluten-free, I’ve used this recipe to make regular bread for others, with great success.
- 1 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I usually use almond instead of soy, as it adds a great nuttiness
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or white vinegar
- 2 cups white flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup vegan sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup Earth Balance or other vegan margarine
- 3/4 cup raisins, currants, dried cranberries, or dried cherries (it’s incredible with dried cherries)
Preheat your oven to 325 or 350, depending on how hot your oven gets, and grease a baking sheet.
Combine the non-dairy milk with lemon juice or vinegar in a cup or small bowl and let it curdle beautifully. In a large bowl, mix your flours, sugar, soda, and salt.
Use a couple of knives to cut the butter into your dry ingredients, then add your curdled milk and dried berries. Knead this dough out on a lightly floured surface until the dough just comes together. It’s okay if it’s lumpy: you just want it to be able to cling together.
Shape this dough into a disc on your baking sheet: it should be 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches in height. Slice an “X” into the top with a serrated knife and bake approximately 40 minutes, or until it’s golden outside and sounds hollow when tapped. Slice off a chunk, slather it with margarine, and curl your toes in glee.
One of the most spectacular comfort foods out there, colcannon is a creamy mix of mashed potatoes and leafy greens. Although cabbage is the traditional green used for this, you can use kale instead, or a mix of the two, or even big handfuls of mixed greenery. I like a mix of cabbage, kale, and spinach, but my Nan swore by collards in her recipe, and I’ve even seen it made with Brussels sprouts, so be creative.
- 3 cups peeled, diced potatoes
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Savoy cabbage
- 3-4 green onions, sliced thinly
- 1/4 cup Earth Balance or other vegan butter substitute
- 1/3 cup non-dairy cream (plain soy sour cream or yogurt works like a charm here)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and pour in the cubed potatoes. Cook these until they’re fork-tender, then drain well in a colander.
While the potatoes are draining, saute the cabbage/kale, and half the green onions in vegan butter. Add the non-dairy milk, and simmer on low-medium heat until the cabbage is tender. If you’re using kale, you might need a bit longer, and may need to add a bit more milk if it evaporates too much.
Place the drained potatoes in a large bowl, and use a potato masher to mash them up good n’proper. Add the sauteed cabbage mixture and the non-dairy cream, and stir thoroughly. If you like, you can use an immersion blender to puree 1/3 of it or so and then use a spoon or spatula to combine it all into a rich, creamy, delicious mess. Add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with the remaining chopped onions, and even some shredded raw cabbage.
If you happen to have any of this left over after dinner, you can use it the next morning to make…
Like any other potato pancake, this can be adapted to suit individual tastes. If you’re using leftover colcannon to make these, reduce the amount of potatoes you’re using by half, and omit the boiling/draining step. I like to add grated rutabaga or zucchini to the mash instead of potatoes, and you can also use cauliflower mash as a base if you’d like to make this nightshade-free.
- 3 or 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
- 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
- 1 small onion, peeled
- 1/3 cup flour (if you’re gluten-free, I’d recommend using a GF pancake mix!)
- Vegan replacement for 1 egg (a few tablespoons of flax meal jelly works just fine)
- Cooking oil
Dice half the potatoes and boil them in salted water until tender. Drain well, and mash thoroughly.
Grate the remaining potatoes (or your veg of choice) as well as the onion, into large bowl. Add the vegan egg replacement, flour, and non-dairy milk, then stir well. Taste a tiny dab of this mixture and season with salt to taste.
Heat oil in a large, non-stick pan on med-high heat until it spits and hisses like an angry llama when you toss water into it. Add in your batter a couple of spoonfuls at a time, lower the heat, and fry until the edges are golden and bubbles start to appear in the surface. Flip them over, keep frying until cooked through.
Remove pancakes from the heat, and drain on newspaper. Serve hot, with fresh pepper cracked on top, and a big dollop of non-dairy sour cream on the side.
Lucky Shamrock Green Smoothie
Although not traditionally Irish, this splendid green smoothie would make any lucky leprechaun kick up his heels in delight. Feel free to mix up the ingredients in this one to suit your preference: for example, I don’t like banana much, so I use half a frozen one for creaminess, plus half an avocado (which is great for boosting the green hue). Kale works well instead of baby spinach, and you can also add hemp or chia seeds for extra nutrients.
- 1 frozen banana (or half a frozen banana, and half an avocado, or a whole avocado and leave the bananas alone)
- 1 packed cup baby spinach
- 2/3 cup fresh mango, diced
- 1 1/2 cups almond, soy, rice, or coconut milk
- 1 cup ice
- A teaspoon or so of maple or agave syrup for extra sweetness (if desired)
Blend the first five ingredients in your blender until nice and smooth, and then adjust sweetness. Devour
Since rhubarb is one of the first things to grow in springtime, it’s ideal for baking into pies and crumbles. To make this gluten-free, just use gluten-free rolled oats, or eliminate the grains entirely and use a muesli of slivered almonds and crushed assorted nuts.
- 4 cups rhubarb, washed and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 cups vegan sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup melted vegan margarine, like Earth Balance
Preheat your oven to 375, and grease an 8″x8″ baking dish.
Combine rhubarb, 1 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon of flour, corn starch, and cinnamon, and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Then pour that mixture into your baking dish.
Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour with the remaining cup of sugar, the oats (or nuts), and the melted margarine, and then sprinkle that crumble mixture over the rhubarb. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden and bubbly. Serve with a generous dollop of vegan vanilla ice cream on the side.