You’ll be patting your belly after these St.Paddy’s Day recipes

Green is the signature colour for St. Patrick’s Day, which is just around the corner on March 17th. It’s also the colour associated with new growth and vitality. At the tail end of winter, we need all the vitality we can get – so, eat your greens. The darker the better. Rich in vitamins, minerals and valuable antioxidants, green veggies are a real pick-me-up in a wintry menu. Taste and you will feel you can dance like a leprechaun!

Braised Lamb Shanks with Root Vegetables

Lamb shanks have a rich melt–in–the mouth texture and flavour after a long slow simmer either in the oven or on top of the stove — especially when Guinness (Irish beer) is added to the gravy. You may have to order the shanks from the butcher in advance. Serve the stew with mashed potatoes and the cabbage braise recipe below.

2 tbsp (25 mL) vegetable oil
6 lamb shanks (about 4 lbs)
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 cups (1 L) about 4 carrots, in 1/2 inch/ 1.5 cm cubes
2 cups (500 mL) parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch / 1.5 cm cubes
2 cups (500 mL) sliced cremini mushrooms
2 onions, sliced
1/4 cup (50 mL) all-purpose flour
2 cups (500 mL) each, beef stock and Guinness
2 bay leaves
1 tsp (5mL) each, dried thyme and salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper
1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh chopped parsley

In large Dutch oven or saucepan, heat oil over medium to high heat; brown shanks in batches. Set aside. Add garlic, carrots, parsnip, mushroom and onions to pan. Stir cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Gradually stir in flour; cook a few minutes, stirring to combine. Gradually stir in stock and Guinness; cook stirring until smooth and thickened. Bring to boil; return shanks to pan. Stir in bay leaves, thyme, salt and pepper. Shanks may be covered and simmered on top of the stove for 2 – 2 1/2 hours stirring occasionally or transfer to a baking dish and bake in the oven for 2 – 2 1/2 hours. Serve the shanks with a generous sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley. Makes 4 – 6 servings.

Braised Cabbage with Bacon

A cabbage, like no other vegetables, seems to last a very long time. This is a good way to use up a large portion in a satisfying dish.

4 slices side bacon, chopped
2 onions, thinly sliced
6 cups (1 1/2 L) finely shredded cabbage
3 carrots, coarsely grated
1 leek, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried thyme and salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper
1/2 cup (125 mL) approximately water
1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh chopped parsley

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook bacon until brown. Stir in onions and cook covered about 5 minutes until softened. Stir in cabbage, carrots, leek, thyme, salt, pepper and water. Continue to cook until vegetables are tender and water has been absorbed, about 5 – 10 minutes.

Stir in parsley and serve vegetables piping hot. Makes 4 – 6 servings. Any leftover is good gently re-heated the next day.

Kale Salad with Mango and Orange Vinaigrette

The tang of kale marries well with the sweetness of the yellow mango (in season now) and the orange vinaigrette. The salad is a good accompaniment to this lamb braise but also tasty with pork, chicken and fish.

Tips: Mango is ripe when it has a sweet fragrance and gives slightly to the pressure of the hand. Make sure it is free of bruises and blemishes. To toast almonds, bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10 – 12 minutes at 350 F (180 C).

Salad:
6 cups (1 1/2 L) kale leaves, coarse stem discarded and leaves torn into bite size pieces
1 ripe mango, skinned and cut into cubes
1/2 cup (125 mL) toasted almonds
Orange vinaigrette:
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tsp (5mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) black pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) finely grated orange peel
1/2 cup (125 mL) orange juice
1 cup (250 mL) vegetable oil
2 tbsp (25 mL) liquid honey

In a salad bowl, combine kale, mango and almonds. Just before serving toss with about 1/2 cup (125 mL) of dressing or just enough to coat leaves. Any remaining dressing may be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

To make vinaigrette: In a food processor or blender, combine garlic, salt, pepper, orange peel, juice, oil and honey until well combined. Pour into jar and refrigerate.

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