Happy Robert Burns Day! Scotland’s favorite son was born on January 25th, 1759. On this day, those of Scottish heritage around the world remember the famous poet with a traditional Rabbie Burns Supper. Even those who couldn’t recite a line of The Bard’s works may have heard of the evening’s menu featuring haggis.
My grandparents immigrated to Canada from Glasgow in their thirties and retained their Scottish accents and selected traditions throughout their lives, but haggis wasn’t one of them. Their daughter, my elderly aunt, who passed away in her 86th year, confessed that she had never tasted haggis. And we certainly didn’t refer to turnips and potatoes as neeps and tatties.
Still, I was amused when I came across an entry in a cookbook for a vegetarian version of haggis, to be served with the traditional neeps and tatties. It is claimed that the recipe originated with a restaurant on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. As Robbie Burns night was at hand, I decided to give it at try.
The ‘haggis’ is actually a simple lentil loaf. Two cups of cooked lentils are combined with 1/2 cup of fresh bread crumbs, and assorted seasonings including garlic, chopped onion, sage, salt and pepper, and a touch of cumin and nutmeg. The mixture is then formed into a loaf, brushed with olive oil, and baked at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes till lightly browned and firm. I served the loaf with mashed potatoes and mashed turnip. Well…not exactly turnip, but rutabaga, which is also called Swedish turnip, or yellow turnip or even, yes, neep.
The lentil loaf was quite tasty and we enjoyed our Burns supper.