Irish Farmhouse Salad

11 Aug 2010

I’ll never forget the first time I visited the farm and met my future Irish family. R and I had planned a spectacular trip to the Amalfi Coast and decided it would be perfect to meet everyone before we took off on our holiday. I would fly into Ireland first and we would head to Italy from here.

After the grand introductions and formal-ish conversation in the sitting room, I was politely asked if I would like a bite to eat, and despite the fact that I was completely famished, I eloquently replied, “Sure, just a little something would be nice, thank you”.  We made our way into the kitchen where Peggy presented me with a traditional plate of cold salad like the one pictured above.  While I found this to be a slightly unusual offering, it was very charming and welcoming just the same. Since it was about six o’clock in the evening and therefore their traditional “tea” time, it meant that a cold salad or something similar would be entirely apropos on an Irish farm.

This comforting country plate consists of mashed potato salad, egg mayonnaise, sliced boiled ham, vine ripened tomatoes and perhaps a piece or two of warm brown soda bread *. We nibbled away while swapping sentimental stories and having a good laugh or two. Afterward, we shared a warm cup of tea and then retired for the night…the jet lag had prevailed.

*There are variations to this dish. Many people will add spring onion, cucumber, cole slaw or perhaps a bit of freshly sliced fruit.


Slan Abhaile,


Photo by Imen McDonnell. Assisted by Master Geoffrey McDonnell

Mashed Potato Salad


6 white potatoes

1  cup mayonnaise

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon green onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon fresh chives finely chopped

1 tsp flat leaf parsely, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste


Place peeled and sliced potatoes in a large pot and boil for 20 minutes, or until tender. When potatoes are cooked, drain and let sit for 5-10 minutes to cool. Once cooled, add in mayonnaise, sour cream, green onion, chives, parsley, salt, and pepper.

Egg Mayonnaise

For the egg filling:

3 eggs

4 tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp lemon juice

Freshly milled pepper

cayenne pepper

For the mayonnaise:

2 whole egg yolks

1 tsp Dijon mustard or mustard powder

280 ml ground nut oil or vegetable oil

salt pepper

2 tsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar


Method for the mayonnaise 1. In a bowl whisk the egg yolks and mustard

2. Start to gradually pour in the oil a drip at a time very gradually, whisking after each go until it becomes think and emulsifies

3. Check the seasoning and add a spoon of lemon juice or white wine vinegar if needed. Method for the egg mayonaise 1. Boil the eggs for 7 minutes in boiling water

2. Remove form the pan refresh allow to cool and peel

3. Lay on a plate and pour over the mayonnaise

4. Finish with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper

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14 Responses to “Irish Farmhouse Salad”

  1. Hi Imen! I’m from Minnesota and moving to Ireland for 6 months on June 16. I’ve never been to Ireland (or Europe) so I’m super excited and looking forward to trying all the local food and learning about the traditions. Mmm this plate of food looks divine! What is the white circle thing? It looks like a giant scallop.

  2. Luke says:

    first of all 1) amazing blog & photography, I hope there’s a book at the end of this! 2) this post triggered all kinds of nostalgia for me remebering my grandmothers tea like this during summers I was over from Canada, it’s nice to see that the tradition of light dinner is still alive in parts of Ireland.

    • imen says:

      Ooooh what a lovely comment! Thank you….i love that salad, it’s a staple in our house! Yum. And yes, there will be a book…..soon! xx

  3. Bryan says:

    This made me smile – it’s exactly what was meant by the word ‘salad’ when I was growing up in Sligo too. It had a strong association with the tea-time of ‘the silage men’. Dining in the suitably grave setting of the sitting room, the boss man at the top of the table flanked by a number of coy boys who spent their summers ‘drawing in’. The air thick with the holy smoke of molasses and diesel from the tractors and the sacred heart smouldering away in the volatile mix. Grass in their hair and everywhere!

  4. Clare says:

    I like this updated version of the farmhouse salad, especially the egg mayo part. I find that most egg mayo salads I’ve encountered are just swimming in mayo, which I don’t like. Yours looks light and fresh, the way it should be!

  5. Aoife Mc says:

    Looks really delicious Imen – reminds of the tea my grandmother used to make for me whenever I visited! Lovely.

  6. laura says:

    This post reminds me of my grandmother’s salads. Though, she would also always have had some beetroot and some lettuce. The old fashioned butterhead lettuce that I still love. It is the lettuce I grew up with. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about evenings in her kitchen with her, eating salad and if we had been very good, some leftover potatoes sliced and fried. She hated chips but fried potatoes were just fine! 🙂

  7. Carla says:

    I love the ‘side salad’ served in restaurants around Ireland. This blog reminds me of those delicious salads and all the wonderful times I have had when visiting Ireland. My next visit there can’t get her soon enough!

  8. Carolyn says:

    Mmm, so excited to have this potato salad recipe! When I was in the maternity hospital they served up a salad plate similar to this every evening and I was LOVING it. Never thought the best salad plate I would have in Ireland would come from there!

    • imen says:

      Oh my Carolyn, you are a right! And I remember thinking the same thing…wow, sweet memories. Thanks for remembering and thanks for your comment. x

  9. Your photos are really stunning Imen, I am more than a little jealous of your talent. 🙂

    • imen says:

      Thank you so much..this was really hard to shoot…it’s just “not pretty”..glad you like the photos..not sure it’s talent though! xx

  10. Hey Pesto! says:

    But where’s the spring onion and the two slices of cucumber ??

    • imen says:

      Yvonne, yes, there are variations on this depending on where you live…this is how my mother in law does it, but I’ve had it with cole slaw and spring onion as well. Thanks for your comment.

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