My inspiration today was my mom and dads 5 week vacation to the Lake District in England. They left yesterday for some hiking and exploring the small villages and countryside. The fact that they are in their 80's and hiking the mountains of the Lake District is a testament to their vegetarian and healthy lifetyle. I am sure they will come across a Ploughman's lunch or two along the way! Go into almost any British pub for a taste of British food and you are likely to see a Ploughman's Lunch on the menu. A Ploughman’s can be put together at a moment’s notice. At some pubs, there is even a notation next to this menu item claiming that it can be brought to the table in less than 10 minutes. But, what is a Ploughman's Lunch? It means different things to different people and sometimes, even though not traditional, it includes a sausage, pate, pot pie or a piece of ham. What is for certain, it is not for the fainthearted. If you choose it on the menu they may need to roll you out of the pub for more than one reason!!!
This popular meal has been around since the early 1800’s, possibly earlier, when ploughmen’s wives sent their husbands off to plough the fields with a packed meal. There are even records of it mentioned in 18th century literature. Whatever would keep well without further refrigeration could be included. Traditionally the cheese, bread and pickles would be home-made by the ploughman's wife, making it an inexpensive and substantial lunch. Today, a good Ploughman's will be cheeses of the region and at the very least British; the same for the meats and other accompaniments. The bread must be a thick wedge of crusty bread or a baguette, anything less will not hold up when piled high with cheese, chutney and pickles. And to drink ...in a pub it must be a pint of the local beer, cider or a “Shandy” (1/2 beer and ½ lemonade) to wash it all down. Or what about a Pimm's?
A Ploughman’s is the perfect meal to serve in hot summer weather, or to pack and take on a picnic. It is a perfect warm-weather meal for busy cooks, since no actual cooking is involved. For those who are not close to a British Pub, or planning to visit one soon, a quick stop at the supermarket will guarantee that once home, a Ploughman’s Lunch is only about 10 minutes away!
Be part of the solution and join in on Meatless Mondays.
Gather the ingredients:
•Bread: Most grocery stores and bakeries in Britain sell freshly baked ploughman’s rolls, which are similar to hoagie buns, only shorter. Baps, granary rolls, which contain malted wheat flakes, are another popular choice, as is a small baguette. Any favorite roll or bread may be used as long as it is freshly baked.
•Cheese: Mature cheddar is the most popular cheese to serve with a Ploughman’s. English Stilton comes in a close second. Since the Ploughman’s is classic British pub food, it would be fitting to serve English cheese if you have it available.
•Pickles: Branston pickles (made by Crosse and Blackwell since the 1920’s ) are classic with the Ploughman’s Lunch (This distinctive relish includes carrots, cauliflower, rutabaga, marrow (a type of summer squash), and dates combined with vinegar, lemon juice, and assorted spices). Also traditional is the mustard based relish called piccalilli. Both of these pickles are available in major grocery stores in the imported foods section. Pickled onions are considered a must by many, but some prefer green onions with salt.
•Salad/Fruit: A simple lettuce salad with tomatoes is served in many pubs, with a packet of “French Salad Cream,” a light creamy sweet dressing. Since this particular dressing isn’t readily available outside of the United Kingdom, a similar dressing can be quickly made at home. (recipe below). Fruit is usually served in addition to the salad, and this dressing is great drizzled on fruit such as apple slices, grapes, strawberries, and pineapple.
English “French” Salad Cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion, or use a teaspoon of dry onion
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Combine all dressing ingredients in the blender or food processor; process until smooth and creamy. Now arrange the ingredients on a plate That’s it! Ready in 10 minutes just as promised. Serve and enjoy!!!!
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