St. Patrick’s Day is a day for everyone to celebrate Ireland and the rich history and culture of the Irish people. Originally, March 17 was a holy day when Catholics honored St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Today it is also a worldwide celebration filled with community festivals, parades, pageants, and “global greening”—the turning of absolutely everything green.
If you’d like to go beyond drinking green drinks, eating green sweets, and wearing green clothes on this party-filled day, consider trying some traditional Irish foods. These popular dishes are inexpensive but hearty recipes that were developed over centuries marked by poverty and famine.
The national dish of Ireland is Irish Stew, a traditional meat-and-potatoes dish that’s filled with hearty root vegetables—lots of potatoes!—and mutton (lamb). This humble dish goes further when it’s mopped up with traditional Irish soda bread, of course, and leaves tasty leftovers. Make it on the stove and in the oven with Traditional Irish Stew recipe.
Irish Soda Bread
This famous quick bread came from a time of desperate poverty in Ireland in the late 1830s. Its simple and cheap ingredients were accessible to everyone and, because it takes soft wheat flour (aka pastry flour today), it doesn’t require yeast or a long rising process. The famous cross shape cut out of the top of the loaf before baking helps with the cooking process and provides an additional benefit of warding off evil spirits. This Classic Irish soda bread recipe requires only five ingredients.
Bacon & Cabbage
Historically, beef products were considered a luxury in Ireland and their traditional meals included bacon (ham). Early Irish immigrants found the opposite to be true here in America and that’s why corned beef & cabbage is considered a celebratory dish on St. Patrick’s Day. You can go back to the homeland with this Bacon & Cabbage recipe.
Finally, for dessert, you’ll find that traditional Irish treats are very similar to pies, cakes, breads, and puddings we enjoy on a daily basis in America today. Irish apple cake baked with a tangy variety of apples, soda bread pudding, fruit tarts, and shortbread cookies can close out your St. Patrick’s Day meal with a more traditional Irish flavor. And if you feel like you need to eat more green on this festive day, feel free to add food coloring as appropriate!