Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 🍀🇮🇪 Today, we’re taking a deep dive into the rich culinary heritage of Ireland, celebrating the delicious traditional foods that have been passed down for generations and making a St. Patrick’s Day Vegan Menu.
You heard that right.
Traditions are meant to be adapted. Traditions are meant to reflect our values. So, let’s get to it.
Irish cuisine is hearty and comforting — thick soups, chunky stews, creamy sides, and warming drinks. This is the food I grew up on in my Irish-American family. My name IS, after all, Colleen Patrick — Colleen meaning “girl” and Patrick referring to the patron saint of this holiday. (The “Goudreau” part of my last name comes from my husband.)
Officially, I’m 75% Irish and 25% Italian, my ancestors having immigrated to the United States in the late 19th century. And I’m 100% vegan. So, that makes a St. Patrick’s Day Vegan Menu right up my alley! 😇
St. Patrick’s Day History
The history of St. Patrick’s Day dates back to the 17th century, when it was first observed as a religious feast day by the Catholic Church in Ireland. St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was a fifth-century Christian missionary who is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.
He is also known for using the shamrock, a three-leafed plant, to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity to the Irish people.
Over time, St. Patrick’s Day became a public holiday in Ireland, and it was celebrated with religious ceremonies and feasts. It was also a day when people would wear green, which is now a symbol of Ireland and a nod to the country’s lush green landscape.
In the United States, St. Patrick’s Day became popular among Irish immigrants in the late 19th century. These immigrants organized parades and other celebrations to celebrate their heritage and culture. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland and is celebrated around the world.
Irish Main Dishes and Sides
CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE (AMERICAN): One of the most popular St. Patrick’s Day food traditions is corned beef and cabbage, and I have memories of my mother cooking this in the slow cooker every March. However, this dish is not actually a traditional Irish meal. It is believed to have originated in the United States in the mid-19th century, when Irish immigrants substituted corned beef for bacon, which was more expensive in America.
HEARTY STEW (IRISH): In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day is more commonly celebrated with a traditional Irish meal of a thick, hearty stew with potatoes, carrots, and onions. For my vegan version, I use plant-based meat, though you can just leave that out and just feature root vegetables. You can use store-bought seitan, sausage, or any favorite vegan meat. To avoid extra packaging and cost, I make my own seitan, which is much more economical and ecological. You can find my recipe in the on-demand class library, or just click on the button below:
COLCANNON (IRISH): Another traditional Irish dish is colcannon, a delicious and creamy mixture of mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage. This simple yet satisfying dish would be served with a dollop of (nondairy) butter, and it’s a great accompaniment to any main dish. It is also a perfect way to get some St. Patrick’s Day GREEN in your menu — using healthy, delicious greens. You can take that further by making a side of
sauteed collard greens
spinach or arugula salad
BOXTY (IRISH): An alternative to colcannon is boxty, a traditional Irish potato pancake. There are different regional variations of boxty throughout Ireland, with some recipes including other ingredients like onions, garlic, or herbs. Boxty has been a staple of Irish cuisine for centuries and is still popular today, particularly in rural areas of the country.
SODA BREAD (IRISH): Another traditional item for this holiday is soda bread, which has been a staple in Irish cuisine for many years, and it’s still enjoyed today for a few reasons. One of the main reasons is that it’s a simple bread to make using basic ingredients that were readily available to the Irish people throughout history, including flour, salt, baking soda, and soured milk (or buttermilk).
Using plant-based milk instead of animal milk is an easy vegan switcheroo for a bread that is otherwise vegan. Enjoy my recipe for Irish Soda Bread here.
Irish Dessert and Drinks
For dessert, Irish people often enjoy traditional dishes like apple cake, bread pudding, or trifle. They may also indulge in Guinness beer (now vegan!), Bailey’s Irish Cream (a vegan version now available!), or Irish whiskey (always been vegan, thank goodness!). 😇 These iconic Irish beverages have been enjoyed for centuries, and their rich flavors are the perfect complement to any traditional Irish meal.
You can enjoy my Whisky Apple Cake recipe as part of the St. Patrick’s Day Vegan Menu. And if you have my book, Color Me Vegan, you will find a beautiful Green Matcha Cupcake, which is a fun way to feature some of the Irish green!
Green Recipe Inspiration!
Here are some more ideas for green recipes for St. Patrick’s Day:
Green smoothie bowl: Blend spinach, banana, kiwi, and coconut milk to make a creamy and nutritious green smoothie. Top with sliced fruit, granola, and nuts for a satisfying breakfast or snack.
Irish soda bread with green herbs: Add chopped green herbs like parsley, chives, or basil to your Irish soda bread dough to give it a fresh and savory twist.
Shamrock avocado toast: Spread mashed avocado onto toasted bread and use a cookie cutter to cut the shape of a shamrock. Top with sliced cherry tomatoes, green onions, and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Green hummus: Blend chickpeas, garlic, tahini, and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth. Add a handful of fresh parsley, cilantro, or spinach and blend until the mixture turns bright green. Serve with pita chips or crudites.
Matcha latte: Whisk together matcha powder, agave, and warm plant-based milk to make a frothy and invigorating green tea latte.
Pistachio “nice” cream: Make a homemade pistachio nice cream by blending pistachios into your frozen bananas. Blend the mixture in a blender until it’s thick and creamy.
Shamrock sugar cookies: Make sugar cookie dough and add green food coloring to the mix. Cut out shamrock shapes with cookie cutters, bake, and decorate with green icing and sprinkles.
So let’s celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in true Irish style with delicious, nutritious, compassionate vegan recipes! You can find my video, recipes, and menu of TRADITIONAL IRISH STEW, POTATO PANCAKES (BOXTY), AND APPLE CRUMBLE by clicking on the button below.
Why a plant-based Seder beautifully reflects the values of this important Jewish holiday
A brief history of Passover
The story of Passover dates back over 3,000 years ago when the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt under the rule of the Pharaoh. Moses, who was raised as an Egyptian, learned of his true heritage and led the Israelites to freedom.
After enduring a series of plagues, including the death of all their firstborn, the Pharaoh finally relented and let the Israelites leave Egypt. They were in such a hurry to leave that they did not have time to let their bread rise, and instead made unleavened bread to take with them on their journey.
The Passover Seder, the ritual feast that begins the Passover holiday, includes a retelling of the Exodus story, using symbolic foods and rituals that represent the Jewish people’s journey to freedom. It is a time for families and communities to come together and share in the tradition, history, and values that have sustained the Jewish people for generations.
How the values of Passover and veganism align
Passover commemorates the Jewish people’s journey from slavery to freedom, and emphasizes the importance of treating others with dignity and respect.
Similarly, veganism seeks to minimize harm to animals and reduce exploitation in the food system, promoting compassion for all beings.
Both values highlight the importance of recognizing the inherent worth and value of all individuals, regardless of their species, background, or circumstances. Freedom from harm, liberation from enslavement, and hope for a better future are central values in both Passover and veganism.
Vegan Passover Seder menu
The Seder, which means “order,” is the traditional Passover meal that includes reading, drinking wine, telling stories, remembering history, eating special foods, singing, and other Passover traditions.
One significant practice of this holiday involves the removal of leavened foods commemorating the fact that the slaves fleeing Egypt did not have time to let their bread rise.
Matzo represents this unleavened bread and is used in many forms throughout the holiday — as crackers, as flour, as meal / bread crumbs, as bread.
Options for a vegan Passover menu abound, and you can find 11 delicious recipes in my specially curated RECIPE BUNDLE FOR A VEGAN PASSOVER. Enjoy these easy-to-make, eager-to-please recipes for:
Matzo Ball Soup
Borscht (Beet Soup)
Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers
Roasted Beets and Fennel Bulbs with Fennel Oil
Matzo Pizza with Cashew Mozzarella
Mushroom Walnut Pâté
Matzo Chocolate Brittle
Flourless Chocolate Tart
Most of the ingredients in these recipes are whole plant foods, some of them call for store-bought ingredients, such as olive oil or balsamic vinegar. If you are keeping kosher for Passover, just double-check your commercially bought ingredients before using.
I included ingredients that you should have no problem finding certified kosher, but depending on how observant you or your host and their guests are, you’ll want to double-check if they’re labeled “kosher for Passover.”
Your best bet is to check a kosher grocery store, the kosher section of a larger grocery, or one of the many online stores that carry kosher products, especially if they come from Israel!
The six symbolic foods on the Seder plate play an important role, since they’re used to recount the story of the exodus and convey the elements of the powerful message of Passover: that freedom is possible, that slavery can end, and that the future can be better than the past.
Many plant foods are already traditionally part of the Seder plate, namely:
Charoset, which represents the mortar that Jews worked with when they were enslaved by the Egyptians. Ashkenazi Jews typically make charoset with apples, walnuts, cinnamon, and wine; Sephardic Jews often use figs and dates. Also delicious.
Bitter herbs, which symbolize the bitterness and harshness of slavery. This is often represented with horseradish.
Additional bitter herbs, such as romaine lettuce or endive, have the same effect.
A green vegetable, such as parsley, which represents new life, is dipped in salt water, signifying the tears of the slaves.
A couple animal products are also used as symbols, namely a boiled egg to symbolize new life and a shank bone to represent the lamb who was offered for sacrifice, but non-animal alternatives are widely accepted:
The most common vegan substitute for the shank bone is a roasted beet, whose “bloody” appearance is used to represent the blood of the sacrificial lambs. Beets are referenced as a Passover Seder option in the Talmud.
While the egg doesn’t have the same kind of long-established traditional substitute, there are a few different options used by Jewish vegans in its place:
something egg-shaped — like a plastic or wooden egg, or even a smooth rock
seeds, because they symbolize and hold the potential for new life, can be used in place of an egg. An avocado pit is used by many because it is a seed and it somewhat resembles the shape of the egg it is replacing.
the type of eggplant that is round and white is a great substitute; it even looks like an egg.
rice, being outside of the category for grains forbidden to eat at Passover, was another vegetarian Seder option given in the Talmud.
Pick the one that resonates with you and take heart in the fact that a vegan Seder is not only traditional in its own right, it reflects the principles of freedom and mercy that signify this holiday.
First and foremost, of course, is the fact that everything I teach is vegan, but after that, a world of possibilities awaits! I’m inspired by different cuisines and cultures, spices and flavors, textures and techniques, but mostly what I desire is to inspire someone to get into the kitchen to create food that will nurture, nourish, and delight.
Engaging the Senses
Cooking is a sensual experience in that all of our senses are engaged, and our experience of eating begins long before we start chewing — what a dish looks like, what the kitchen smells like, what a recipe is called, what a food sounds like during preparation or cooking, and what it feels like to touch it with our hands, our teeth, and our tongue. What memories are evoked.
I consider all of these factors when developing my recipes and crafting my classes, and the greatest gift for me is to know that one — even just one — of my recipes may become part of someone’s repertoire. That they will follow instructions I’ve carefully considered. That they will make culinary tweaks and tickles to adjust it to their liking. That they will enjoy the process as much as the result.
Join a Class in 2023
The first half of 2023 is scheduled out, and I hope you can join me. Click on each to book your spot, and enjoy a discount when you book more than one class. 𝐅𝐄𝐁𝐑𝐔𝐀𝐑𝐘: Cozy Colorful Soups (Purple Kale and White Bean Soup, Six Shades of Red Soup, Brazilian Black Bean Stew)
𝐉𝐔𝐍𝐄: Plant-based Food and Wine Pairings (Join me and my partner-in-wine (i.e. my husband) for this special class in which we provide a comprehensive lesson for the best red, white, and rose wines and the plant-based foods they pair with.) If you can’t decide, remember 𝐆𝐈𝐅𝐓 𝐂𝐀𝐑𝐃𝐒 are also available!
The classes are fun, interactive, and live in real-time! This means, I see you, you see all the other participants, and you see me cooking in my Oakland kitchen and answering your questions. What’s more: you receive all the recipes in advance of the class and a video recording of the class after it’s over.
What type of cooking classes or recipes are you looking for? Comment down below.
Mastering homemade tofu (well, as much as a little grasshopper can master a 2,000-year-old practice) has been my highlight of 2020. It’s all the more exciting because I failed so many times, and when I realized what was hindering my success, it was like a dam breaking. I’ve never looked back and now make tofu successfully a couple times a week.
Is it worth making tofu at home? ABSOLUTELY!
Homemade tofu is so much less expensive than store-bought
Whether or not you join me in my upcoming live cooking class for making homemade tofu, I thought I would share with you the basic “equipment” needed to make your own tofu at home. As you’ll see, I mention a couple things you probably already have on hand, but there are some things that will be new to you.
Tools You’ll Need for Homemade Tofu
As for the tofu mold, I prefer a wooden tofu mold, which I’ve had for years, but when I looked for one to refer you to, I found it difficult to find one that wasn’t part of a tofu-making kit. However, considering the fact that the kits provide you with everything you need, it may be worth it in the end. The two kits I recommend are:
Because I wanted to ease you into the homemade tofu-making process, I also wanted to find an option for you to use a mold you may already have on hand without having to buy one just yet. While a “colander” would work (as some blogs suggest), you need more than just a colander…you need a colander/strainer that will also act as a mold (usually square but any shape will do). So, two options to consider:
A plastic tupperware container you punch / drill holes into the bottom of.
A small plastic basket — like those that strawberries come in. The fruit basket is actually the perfect size, and it creates / presses a pretty little design into the tofu block once it’s finished pressing.
Cheese Cloth: Whatever mold you use, you still need a cheesecloth, though, so just purchase some at a store near you, or buy some online; here’s one I like — it’s unbleached, you can cut it into whatever size you need, and you can wash it and use it again and again and again. And I do.
Nigari: As for the nigari, as I mentioned, it can be purchased in crystal or liquid form and can be found at most Japanese or Asian grocery stores, or you can order online here(in crystal form) or here (in liquid form). FULL DISCLOSURE: I’ve used only the crystalized nigari that I dilute in water, and while it comes in a plastic bag, the amount of plastic waste you avoid using by making your own tofu makes up for it a hundred fold. (For instance, 1 pound of crystallized nigari makes about 240 pounds of tofu!) HOWEVER, I *am* curious about using liquid nigari, and since the one I recommendcomes in a glass bottle, it would be even less plastic waste. I just haven’t tried it yet. What I use at the present time is nigari salts that I dissolve in water.
Kitchen / Candy Thermometer: I mention below that this is not required, but I like to know I’m at the right temperature when adding my coagulant, so I use a simple thermometer to do so. Here is the one I have.
The main thing I learned in terms of successfully making tofu was that the soy milk has to be made … from scratch. I mean…you definitely can’t use store-bought commercial soy milk and try to make tofu, but my failed attempts at making tofu also came from using soy milk I made in my favorite soy milk maker. I still use that soy milk maker just for making soy milk for daily use, but for making tofu, you have to do it without a machine.
Learn How to Make Tofu
There is a LIVE ONLINE COOKING CLASS coming up to teach you how to make tofu! REGISTER TODAY!
And let me know about your experience! I want to hear your comments and questions.
Panzanella is an Italian salad (pan means “bread”) that was most likely invented out of necessity as a way to use stale bread, along with fresh vegetables from the garden. The earliest written reference to Panzanella is from the 1500s in a poem by the famous artist, Bronzino. Because the tomato hadn’t yet been introduced to Italy, the original recipe wouldn’t have included tomatoes.
Instead of discarding that hearty Italian loaf that’s going stale, make this delicious salad that is absolutely divine in the summer when tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil are at their peak. Vegan, of course.
5 to 6 medium tomatoes, cut into large chunks
4 to 6 cups (360 to 540 g) day-old crusty bread (Italian loaf or French baguette), cut into cubes the same size as the tomatoes (a full loaf or baguette should be fine)
1 medium hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
½ small red onion, finely chopped
2 to 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons capers, drained
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons high-quality balsamic or red wine vinegar
¼ cup (60 ml) high-quality extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Add the tomatoes, bread, cucumber, red onion, garlic, capers, and basil to a large bowl, and toss together. Drizzle in the vinegar and ¼ cup olive oil, and toss some more. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add additional olive oil, if desired.
Set aside and marinate, covered, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to 12 hours. I would avoid marinating the salad in the refrigerator, since the tomatoes tend to become somewhat “mealy” in the fridge.
Serve at room temperature.
Yield: 8 generous servings as a side
If you don’t have stale bread, take a fresh loaf of hearty bread, cut it into large cubes, spread them on a baking sheet, and bake in a 200°F-degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. You don’t want to completely toast the bread; you just want to dry it out. It’s essential that you dry out the bread first before soaking it in the oil and vinegar; otherwise, it will just become soggy.
For Your Modification
Add other ingredients that pair well with the traditional classic, such as olives, sundried tomatoes, capers, red wine, parsley, mint, roasted bell peppers.
Are you cooking with herbs and spices? Or are they sitting and collecting dust on the lids of those cute little jars, unused for six months or more?
If so, I get it. You’re not alone.
Herbs and spices are the most underused ingredients in cooking
I often quip that people who say they “could never be vegan” because the food is “too bland” haven’t stopped to think about the fact that they flavor their meat with plants: ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, relish, vinegars, oils, horseradish, hot sauces, chutneys, jellies, jams, salsa, soy sauce, wasabi, curries, tahini, pickles, garlic, ginger, onions, lemons, limes, and an endless array of spices and herbs.
But truly, aside from the most widely used commercially prepared condiments, even vegetarians and vegans are not taking advantage of the thousands of herbs and spices available that add flavor, color, texture, warmth, and excitement to their dishes.
This is one of my go-to recipes whenever I want something quick and delicious. It’s also a perfect New Year’s dish, as the lentils represent prosperity and luck in the coming year. If the apricots seem weird to you in a soup, trust me! They add a touch of sweetness and cook down into melt-in-your-mouth goodness.
2 tablespoons oil or water, for sautéing 1 medium yellow onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 cup halved dried apricots 1-1/2 cups red lentils, picked through and rinsed 5 cups vegetable stock 3 Roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and chopped 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste Freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1 -15-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
Heat up the oil or water in a large soup pot. Add the onion, garlic, and apricots, and cook for about 7 minutes over medium heat, until the onions begin to turn translucent. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Add the lentils and stock. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, cumin, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Puree 1/2 of the stew in a blender or food processor (or using a stick/immersion blender), then return to the pot. Add the chickpeas, cooking until they’re heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Did you make this soup? Let me know how it turned out in the comments below!
Want To Learn More Easy and Delicious Recipes?
Join me in my online cooking classes!
I have an on-demand soups and stews class and a pressure cooker class where I discuss the whys and hows, and the whats and wherefores of cooking with a pressure cooker and include a recipe for a brown lentil soup!
With the winter holidays coming up, I couldn’t resist sharing this traditional Hanukkah latke (potato pancake) recipe — vegan-style. Frying foods during Hanukkah is an ancient tradition, connected with the oil that was used to light the menorah during this “festival of lights.”
Here is my go-to recipe for making delicious latkes:
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds 4 tablespoons water 4 cups peeled and shredded potatoes (about 5 medium potatoes) 6 scallions, finely chopped 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon cornstarch 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste Canola oil for frying Nondairy sour cream and applesauce, as accompaniments
In a food processor or blender, whip the flax seeds and water together, until it reaches a thick and creamy – almost gelatinous – consistency, about 1 or 2 minutes. This is going to be our “eggs,” which will help provide some binding for our potato pancakes. Set aside.
Spread the grated/shredded potatoes on a kitchen towel or cheesecloth, and roll it up jelly-roll style. Twist the towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. You may need to do this again with a second towel to extract all the water. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add the “flax egg” to the potatoes, along with the green onions, flour, and salt. Use your hands to combine the ingredients and to get a feel for the mixture. You want it moist but not too wet.
Heat some oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Using a tablespoon, scoop a large spoonful of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick patties. To make a good medium-size patty, I use two tablespoons, but you can use one.Note: You are not trying to create dense patties, but the batter should stick together enough to form a patty and be flipped without falling apart. Slide a spatula underneath each latke while they’re cooking to make sure they don’t stick to the pan too much.
Brown on one side, turn and brown on the other. You may need to add more oil as you add more latkes to the pan. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil. Season with additional salt.
Tips from Colleen
Shredded/grated potatoes will oxidize (turn a grayish/brownish color) pretty quickly, so I recommend having your green onions chopped and your “flax eggs” prepared before shredding the potatoes.
Grate/shred the potatoes by hand, or use the special grating blade in your food processor, which is a lot easier and faster.