Friday, March 09, 2007

Kiss me, I'm Irish (and vegetarian!)

I'm following Julie's Irish theme from her Tuesday entry. (And I want to add my enthusiastic thumbs-up to Finnigan's Wake, too.)

Next Saturday is St. Patrick's Day. When one thinks of traditional Irish cooking, vegetarian items don't readily spring to mind -- the standard entrees are definitely meat-based. However, with a bit of creativity, you can celebrate the holiday with a "traditional" dish while still being vegetarian. I've made the following stew for the past several St. Patrick's Days, and even carnivorous friends find it tasty and filling. The broth has a hearty, almost meaty flavor. It's based on a recipe from The Almost No-Fat Holiday Cookbook: Festive Vegetarian Recipes by Bryanna Clark Grogan.

Vegetarian Irish Stew

2 medium onions, chopped
1/4 c. unbleached flour
4 c. water
1 c. Guinness stout (or other dark beer)
2 c. mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 c. carrot, sliced into rounds
1 c. celery, diced
1/2 c. split red lentils
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c. soy sauce
3 vegetarian bouillon cubes or 3 T. vegetable-stock base
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. Marmite (I use nutrional yeast instead)
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. each dried thyme, marjoram and rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
Black pepper to taste
1 package of frozen or refrigerated vegetarian "steak" strips

In a large, lightly oiled, heavy pot, steam-fry the onion until it begins to soften. Add the flour and stir thoroughly. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are done.

Serves 6. Serve with Colcannon (an Irish dish of mashed potatoes and greens -- generally kale, although some recipes use leeks or green onion) and Irish soda bread.

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