7 June 2010

Ploughman's Lunch for Meatless Mondays

Ploughman's Lunch 
One of the simplest vegetarian dishes I grew up with is the Ploughman's Lunch. In my attempt to continue to create delicious meat-free meals for Meatless Mondays I am offering you this classic British dish. The Ploughman’s Lunch has actually become sort of a British icon, and generally referred to simply as a “Ploughman’s.” It really doesn't require a recipe but now that the hot summer weather is here I am sometimes looking for nutritious meals beyond the barbecue. In the lazy, humid days of my childhood mom often had this British classic on our plates in a matter of minutes. It often shows up still when I am running out of time or want to keep the house cool. The whole idea is to use up the things that you may already have and create a meal that is ready in 10 minutes at the most.

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.

**Ploughman's Lunch**

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!!!!

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison. Best Blogger Tips


  1. Fascinating! But the fact that it centers on bread and cheese tells me that an Italian must have had something to do with it! LOL Loved the history lesson, Val
    xoxco Pattie

  2. Wow your parents are incredible! I hope I'll still be able to do that at their age. Bon voyage to them!

    When I read Ploughman's Lunch, I definitely envisioned something with a ton of meat. I think I like this cheese, bread, and salad version better.

  3. A perfect lunch! Delicious.



  4. Since most of do live many 'Out of the Kitchen' moments...great lunch platters like these make their way on the table many more times than I could count. I love putting together quick light meals...not forgetting of course some amazing crusty bread to accompany. Artisanal types with olives are my very favourite!
    Val...thanks to you today I'm a tad better informed...now I know what a Ploughman's Lunch is ;o) Thanks. Flavourful wishes, Claudia

  5. I had no idea the ploughmans lunch was vegetarian. I've always seen it served with some kind of cold meat. I agree that it is delicious and very easy to prepare, especially in the warmer months. And it certainly wouldn't be complete without pickles!...mmmm!

  6. Classic British Pub grub. In fact I had this at my local at the weekend. Hope your parents are enjoying themselves, we've had some good weather over here lately!

  7. A bit of good bread and cheese is one of my favorite lunches when I'm in a hurry or just want something small. The salad cream looks like a very tasty dressing...love the sweet vinegary combination.

  8. A very informative post on Ploughman's lunch. I love that it is drunk with local beer. A great meatless Monday meal.

  9. This comes from England? For once I applaud this English meal! I love cheddar and stilton and the two combined even better!

  10. What a great summer lunch! Cool and inviting. And I had the joy of visiting the Lake District a few years ago. Easily one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen! (Beatrix Pottery land, right? It's easy to see why it inspired her so!)

  11. Your parents bop off to England for home hiking, in their 80's? I hope be just like them when I grow up!

    Love your ploughman's lunch. Ordering one in a pub is like spinning the wheel of chance, with each option being good. No two lunches are alike, but they are always the perfect thing to get a person through the day. That and the pint, of course. ;-)

  12. There's a reason why some meals are classics. This looks like a simple, yet perfect lunch that anyone would be happy to sit down to.

  13. my first thought was 'what the heck is a ploughman?' quickly followed by the second thought of 'what the heck does it eat?' plow, plough--what a difference spelling makes, eh? glad to know i'm not a complete imbecile. :)

  14. I had always heard of ploughman's lunch but never knew what it was. Thanks for the information.

  15. I really loved the history and the lore you shared with us today. There is also something called a trencherman's lunch but I have no idea what it is or how it differs from a plowman's lunch. You probably are not old enough to remember Jackie Kennedy taking a hot lunch to JFK when he was in the Senate. That would be a rich man's plowmans lunch :-).

  16. The Branston pickles are a little bit of an acquired taste, but otherwise yum.

  17. Bread and cheese continues to be a comfort food, and I think is perfect for meatless Mondays.

  18. Pimm's would totally work for this lunch. The salad cream sounds fresh and easy.

  19. Traditionally the Ploughman's is vegetarian but many pibs round out the meal with some kind of substantial meat product.It was alsways vegetarian at my mom & dad's:D I agree about the Branston pickles M.M. That's why you don't see them on my plate:D I do like Picallili though:D

  20. Cheese and bread...you can always boul me over with that combo!!

  21. I have heard of this many times - and somehow thought it was something like our prairie Thrashers Breakfasts, so I appreciate the detail in your post - but was almost on the edge of my seat when you finally revealed what it was and why. So very interesting. This is the lunch of Heidi in the Swiss mountains. The quintessential French lunch (sans pickles), and what we all think of as a quick Italian bite, too. Hmmm. So, I have been eating this all my life and never knew what it was called!
    I love learning new things like this. Thanks... and double bravo to your fit parents.

  22. Thanks for introducing me to Ploughman's lunch. This is definitely something I can fit into our household (my husband particularily will love this). The dressing sounds yummy too. Will most definitely try it. Thanks for posting it!

    PS: Your parents are amazing!!

  23. I often have the Ploughman's lunch when I eat out at the local pubs here in Toronto but for some reason I've never made it at home. I think that's about to change!

  24. What a nice plate you prepared! I hope your parents have fun. I was in the Lake District once, years ago, and had a lovely time.

  25. This is how my lunch looks like all the time...love it :)

  26. Hiking in their 80's. That's the best! My dad now 94 just came back from a trip to England. I'm sure he jogged everyday.
    Love a ploughmans! Yours is beautiful.

  27. My gosh this looks delicious! Thanks for sharing! Can't wait to give this a try!


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