Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day: Favorite Foods and Herbs of Ireland
Who isn’t a little Irish on St. Patrick’s Day? Whether or not you believe in leprechauns, everyone can celebrate the mythology, food, and accomplishments of the Irish. There’s more to celebrate than just Guinness and Smithwick’s on this beloved holiday. Perhaps many people gravitate toward Irish cuisine for its wholesomeness; the ingredients are readily available and nutritious. So don your green, grab a pint, and come learn about a few of the favorite foods and herbs of Ireland!
1. Caraway Seeds
Caraway seeds are a ubiquitous cooking element in many Irish dishes. These seeds are so common that nearly every Irish household keeps a coveted stock. They are a staple ingredient in baked goods including cakes and breads (including Irish soda bread), and time-honored family recipes for soups and cabbage dishes. The caraway seed lends a sweet yet slightly peppery quality to the dishes it flavors. If you’re hoping to re-create a traditional Irish soda bread, you’ll need at least two tablespoons of caraway seeds.
This garden favorite has flavored many a meat and vegetable dish on Irish tables. It pairs well with mutton and potatoes. Whether cooked separately or together in a meat pie or lamb stew, rosemary lends its bold, earthy flavor that deftly complements most proteins and vegetables. Mature plants can also be stripped of their leaves and the stems used for skewers; meat such as lamb can be flavored from the inside out.
Have you ever enjoyed Irish potato muffins? These savory dinner treats depend upon fragrant sage to tempt the taste buds. This essential kitchen herb is native to both Europe and the Mediterranean. Its silvery-gray leaves are soft and provide peppery flavor to dishes. They are used almost exclusively for savory dishes and complement both meat and root vegetables extremely well.
While rosemary can grow into a woody bush-like plant, tiny thyme creeps along the ground. However don’t be fooled by its small leaves; thyme provides a wonderful flavor for fatty meats such as corned beef. Many traditional recipes for this holiday must-have include fresh or dried thyme. Grab a brisket, your favorite Irish ale, peppercorns, bay leaves, and thyme and you’re ready to create a traditional corned beef.
The Irish love soups and stews. And they love adding parsley to them. Skip placing parsley as a garnish and use it for its delicate flavor instead! Its bright green color and crisp, Spring taste is a delicious addition to any dish. Parsley is a must-have herb when making colcannon, a delicious potato and cabbage dish. If you’ve got four pounds of potatoes, a whole green cabbage, a bit of milk, a stick of butter, and parsley, you’ve got everything you need to whip up this favorite dish.
Regardless of how you plan to celebrate your St. Patrick’s Day, I hope that you’ll partake in a few of the delicious traditional Irish foods flavored with exceptional herbs. Whether you create a dish at home our enjoy one out at a local Irish pub, savor the flavor and health benefits of these five herbs.