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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

The St. Patrick’s Day custom came to America in 1737. That was the first year St. Patrick’s Day was publicly celebrated in this country, in Boston, MA.

Today, people celebrate the day with parades, wearing of the green, and drinking beer.  One reason St. Patrick’s Day might have become so popular is that it takes place just a few days before the first day of spring.  One might say it has become the first green of spring J

When St. Patrick’s Day rolls around, it seems there’s a wee bit o’ the Irish in most of us.  Parties, get-togethers, and family dinners wouldn’t be complete without corned beef and cabbage and traditional Irish and Irish-American dishes.  Or, build a meal with a “green” theme.  Spinach, asparagus – any leafy greens – potatoes or rice with parsley, and a minty green dessert.

Here are some creative ways to use real green food to make something fun, festive and flavory to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day …

Corn Beef and Cabbage Roll

Leek and Potato Soup

Green Macaroni and Cheese

Recipe for Green Macaroni and Cheese

ingredients

One 14.5 oz box of whole wheat pasta shapes (shells, elbows, spirals, etc.), cooked al dente and drained.

3 TBS fat (butter, lard, oil)

3 TBSP white flour (yes you can use whole wheat to make a roux)

1 1/2 cups milk

3 cups grated cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/3 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

One bag prewashed baby spinach, or one bunch spinach, washed & chopped, or one package frozen spinach, defrosted, moisture squeezed out.

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Spinach: Over medium heat, drizzle a bit of oil in a sauté pan. Add spinach and wilt until it reduces in size, turns bright green and is soft. (For frozen, put defrosted spinach directly in processor) Add wilted spinach to a food processor and puree. Add a bit of milk if you need some liquid to get a smooth consistency.

Pasta: Cook and drain pasta according to package directions.

Sauce: Melt the fat in a pan over medium heat. Add the flour, whisk and cook for one minute. Slowly add milk continuing to whisk until combined. Allow the milk to come to a slow bubble, while stirring. As the milk thickens, add 2 cups of the shredded cheese by handfuls and stir until cheese melts and milk/cheese is combined. Add nutmeg and cayenne, salt and pepper. Add spinach puree and mix until combined. Return drained pasta, to the cheese sauce and coat with spinach cheese mixture. Serve sprinkled with remaining cheese, or place pasta with green sauce in a baking dish, top with cheese and pop it under the broiler until the cheese is melty and bubbly.

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