A vegan ploughman's lunch is a dairy-free version of this traditional English salad plate often served in pubs.
This hearty cheese ploughman's salad is a hearty lunch often seen on pub menus.
It's an old English recipe, if you can call it a recipe.
Today I'm sharing the history of a ploughman's lunch and giving you lots of options for you to make it just how you like it.
Of course, my vegan ploughman's lunch recipe is vegan.
- 📖 History of the ploughman's lunch
- 🍺 Beer for lunch?
- 🥗 Modern version of this lunch
- 🍴 What to include in a ploughman's lunch
- 🍵 No salad dressing?
- 🍻 To beer or not to beer
- 🥪 Is a ploughman's also a sandwich?
- 🥗 More vegan salads to try
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- 📖 Recipe
📖 History of the ploughman's lunch
I bet you are thinking of a farmer sitting in his field after an arduous morning ploughing his field and unpacking some crusty bread cheese, pickles and salad.
To be fair, back in the day, many farmers and plowmen probably did take something similar to this for their lunch, just grabbing what they had in the larder.
Although, back in 1394 when the ploughman's lunch was first seen in print, it was probably more likely to be just bread, cheese and beer.
🍺 Beer for lunch?
It might seem like a bad decision when you are operating machinery.
Back in the 1800s and early 1900s farm-workers would still be drawing water from streams and wells, but the water often lead to upset stomachs.
So beer was a popular drink for farmworkers as it was a safer option.
Well that was their excuse anyway.
🥗 Modern version of this lunch
The modern version of the ploughman's lunch is a bit more than bread, cheese and beer, although they are still part of it.
It actually comes from a marketing promotion by the Brewer's Society and the Cheese Bureau in 1957 to promote their produce and products
They reinvented the ploughman's lunch and included pickles and salad alongside bread, cheese and beer for their guests at their events to try and to promote both of their businesses.
It soon took off and has been a popular favourite on pub menus since then.
🍴 What to include in a ploughman's lunch
As I have said it is usually cheese, bread, pickles and salad served with beer, but let's give you some tasty options.
Crusty bread is the standard option, but here are a few ideas. Choose one of them.
- Soft brown bread - if it's what you have at home, just use it.
- Bloomers bread - white, but is a good option
- Baguette - a popular choice in pubs
- Sourdough bread - a gastro pub favourite
Make sure to spread that bread with vegan butter.
A chunk of cheese would usually be included but we are more limited with vegan cheeses. I used slices of Violife vegan cheddar which I had in the fridge.
- Sliced vegan cheddar - an easy option
- Block vegan cheddar - just cut a chunk
- Smoked vegan cheese - also a good option
Pickles and chutney are an important part of a ploughman's lunch.
- Branston pickle - a British favourite
- Red onion chutney - another tasty option
- Tomato chutney - so tasty
- Piccalilli - a bright yellow pickle made with cauliflower
🥒 Pickled rather than pickles
Don't forget those pickled extras too.
- Pickled onions - a must
- Pickled beetroot - my favourite
- Gherkins - not traditional but a good option
Now on to the salad. It's always quite basic, choose a few of these.
- Salad leaves - a selection of soft leaves
- Iceberg salad - for a bit of crunch
- Cucumber - sliced
- Tomatoes - baby tomatoes or sliced salad or beef tomatoes
- Onion - red or white onion, finely sliced
- Spring onions - a softer option
- Carrot - grated or finely sliced
- Apple - often served in wedges
- Coleslaw - not traditional but a nice addition
🍵 No salad dressing?
Salad dressing is not part of a ploughman's salad.
You have the pickles for a shot of flavour, but really it's all about the bread and cheese and the flavours of the salad should be left to shine through.
Of course, you could add some, but try it without any first.
🍻 To beer or not to beer
Beer or lager is traditionally served with a cheese ploughman's lunch.
Saying that, cider is also a good choice. It would be great with all these flavours.
If you don't want to drink alcohol, you could just choose a soft drink.
🥪 Is a ploughman's also a sandwich?
Yep, you can also make or buy a cheese ploughman's sandwich.
It's sold in sandwich shops, supermarkets and cafes.
Never a vegan version though. Well, I haven't seen a vegan version on sale anywhere.
So if you want to make your own, try my Vegan Cheese Ploughman's Sandwich.
🥗 More vegan salads to try
Here are a few more vegan salads for you to try.
- Balsamic Beet Slaw
- Coronation Coleslaw
- Carrot & Dill Coleslaw
- Creamy Cheese Pasta Salad
- Dill Potato Salad
- Grinder Salad with Corn
- Lentil Couscous Salad
- Macaroni Salad
- Tex Mex Corn Chopped Salad with Vegan Feta
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Vegan Ploughman's Lunch
- 4 slices wholemeal bread (or a sliced baguette)
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter (or spread)
- 4 slices vegan cheese
- 50 g salad leaves
- ½ cucumber
- 12 cherry tomatoes (or 2 large salad tomatoes, slices)
- 2 spring onions (or thinly sliced red onion)
- 1 red apple, cut into wedges
- 12 pickled onions
- 8 pickled baby beets
- 3 tablespoons Branston pickle (I like the finer sandwich pickle)
- Butter the slices of bread and cut in half in rectangles or triangles. Place on the plate.
- Add the vegan cheese, either a chunk or slice the slices into smaller pieces and add to the plate.
- Now add the salad and apple.
- Finish of with the pickles.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Bread - you can use brown bread, baguette, bloomers bread or a sourdough.
- Cheese - you can use vegan sliced cheese or a chunk of vegan cheddar.
- Pickles - you could include piccalilli and gherkins if you like.
- Dressing - no dressing in a ploughman's lunch