If you think food that celebrates St. Patrick's Day means corned beef and cabbage with boiled potatoes, it's time to update your thinking about Irish cooking.

You may still find plenty of corned beef served with cabbage and potatoes, but you can also enjoy food that is modern and innovative. Many Irish chefs are updating traditional dishes to make them more healthful, such as soda bread made with whole-wheat rather than refined flour, and Colcannon cooked potatoes and cabbage mashed together using little new potatoes, unpeeled, and steamed rather than boiled cabbage.

Always known for its marvelously fresh and high-quality ingredients, including shellfish and dairy products such as butter and fine cheeses, Ireland now also boasts enough fine chefs to generate reams of rave reviews. Some restaurants have received the prestigious Michelin stars that denote excellence.

Some of the innovative dishes of today's Irish cooks stay close to Irish tradition and remain simple. You don't even need a recipe, for example, to make steamed and lightly-buttered turnips sprinkled with fresh mint, or serve salmon accompanied by sauteed scallions and chopped apple, garnished with sorrel and parsley. Tasting of spring, this dish offers lots of green, making it a suitable dish for St. Patrick's Day.

An accompaniment to that or another entree for St. Paddy's Day might be the following salad, which combines four green fruits and vegetables to represent all of Ireland, and pink grapefruit to represent the Orangemen.

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Topped with herbed croutons made from oatmeal bread, its dressing calls for clover honey. The honey might not come from four-leaf clovers, but hopefully, this dish will bring the luck of the Irish along with good taste and nutrition.

Emerald Salad

Makes 4 servings. (6 cups salad)

Ingredients

  • 1 slice oatmeal bread
  • Canola oil spray
  • 12 Boston lettuce leaves
  • 12 pink grapefruit sections (fresh, jarred, or canned)
  • 12 thin avocado slices (1/2 medium avocado)
  • 2 kiwi fruit, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 12 finely-sliced green bell pepper rings
  • 1/2 cup grapefruit juice
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1-2 Tbsp. honey, preferably clover
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh mint leaves, or according to taste
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To make croutons, coat one side of the bread with cooking spray. Sprinkle on the oregano. Bake on a rack in the center of the oven for 3 minutes, until the bread is dry and almost hard in the center. Let it sit 2 minutes. With a serrated knife, cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.
  3. On each of four salad plates, make a bed using 3 lettuce leaves. Place 3 grapefruit sections and 3 avocado slices in the center. Arrange kiwi slices in an overlapping ring around them. Place the 3 pepper rings over the grapefruit and avocado.
  4. For the dressing, whisk together in a small bowl the grapefruit and lime juice, 1 tablespoon honey and mint. Whisk in the oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Taste, and if too tart, add the remaining honey, as desired.
  5. To serve, drizzle dressing over top of each salad. Sprinkle one-fourth of the warm croutons over each and serve.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

159 calories
6 g. total fat
less than 1 g. saturated fat
28 g. carbohydrate
3 g. protein
4 g. dietary fiber
42 mg. sodium