Ploughman's Slices - vegetarian recipe
Ploughman's Slices - an easy meat free recipe - perfect for parties
Most pubs in England have a traditional Ploughman's Lunch on the menu. But what exactly is it?
This is good food at its simplest. It consists of good quality bread, a chunk of Cheddar, or local cheese, onions, pickle and salad.
This tradition is what the doughty ploughmen would take to the fields every day for their hearty midday meal. It's cheap, good and filling. It's also a good dish to serve when you're entertaining - with a twist.
I've often found myself in the position of having several friends round for lunch or dinner but I haven't had the time to prepare elaborate meals - or the money to pay for expensive treats. But yet I want to show my guests that I have gone to a little trouble on their behalf, rather than just put a loaf and a hunk of cheese on the table.
It as easy to eat as a slice of pizza - that makes it great for buffets as it becomes a finger food. Kids absolutely adore it, too.
So this is a great solution. It's always popular and can be served hot right from the oven or as cold slices as part of a tasty buffet.
- 1 tube pizza dough. Of course, you could make your own or buy a ready-prepared pizza base
- 2 - 3 onions
- ½ cup pickle. We use Branston which is the one that most commonly served in England with the Ploughman's Lunch
- 4 - 5 oz. cheese. To be authentically English I use Cheddar
- A little olive oil
- Salad to serve - here I used tomatoes and baby green leaves
The first thing you will need to do is preheat the oven according to the directions given on the dough tube. If you're using pizza bases that are ready made a temperature of 375° should be fine but do check the instructions on the packaging. Place a frying pan or skillet onto the hob set to medium-high and pour in the olive oil.
Peel the onions and slice them into rings. Add to the olive oil in the pan and shake or stir to distribute them evenly in the oil.
This is Britain's favorite pickle.
There are only two of us in our household but nevertheless we go through a jar of this roughly once a week. It's delicious with cheese and crackers but great as a chutney with almost any sort of dish.
It's very popular in sandwiches - where we would have cheese and pickle, many meat eaters have this in sandwiches containing ham or other meats.
In the old days, the ploughman's wife would make her own chutneys but since Branston made its appearance - almost a hundred years ago - this particular pickle has been widely adopted. It's not always to be found in our local stores but it's always available online.
When the onions turn transparent, and start to slightly brown, turn the heat down to low and place a lid on top of the pan. Stir or shake occasionally so that the onions don't burn or stick.
Roll out the dough on a lightly-floured board. As you can see, I use a clean jar for rolling pastry of any kind. In my teeny tiny kitchen I like to keep tools and utensils to a minimum! Lift the rolled dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for the time specified on the package. It will be going back into the oven for about ten minutes later so take that into account. However, the base does need to be firm and beginning to turn golden.
Remove the base from the oven and spread with the pickle. Spoon the cooked onion slices on the top.
Put it back into the oven while you grate the cheese. Top the onions with the cheese and cook until the cheese is how you like it. This allows you the time to create a quick salad.
Sometimes, it's easy to create simple vegetarian or vegan meals at home for the family. But it's when we're expecting guests that I sometimes need inspiration. If our guests don't eat meat, then I'd rather make something a little more special than ordinary family meals. If our guests do eat meat, I really want to show them just how delicious meat-free meals can be - they are often amazed. Good recipe books make all the difference.
© 2013 Jackie Jackson