What a time to be alive. It’s 2021, and a dish which was traditionally made by mixing the minced heart, liver and lungs of a sheep – and boiling them in the animal’s stomach as a delicious cooking bag – can now be made vegan. What’s more – it’s easy, healthy and absolutely delicious!
I’ve been vegan for just over four years, and as well as the animal rights and environmental benefits, one of my favourite things about vegan cooking is the creativity and playfulness involved in finding new ways to make classic dishes, without using animal-derived ingredients.
I first made this haggis for Burns Night a couple of years ago, when I had left it too late to get my hands on a Macsween Vegetarian Haggis. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I still love the ready-made version, but in terms of flavour, texture and that special occasion feeling, nothing beats making your own.
20g plant-based butter or margarine
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped (I used a leek, because my partner isn’t keen on onion!)
1 large carrot, peeled and grated/diced
2 portobello/flat cap mushrooms, finely diced
1x 400 g tin black beluga lentils, drained (you could also use cooked brown, green, or Puy lentils)
1 level teaspoon white pepper (I used finely ground black pepper)
1 level teaspoon ground nutmeg
250 g coarse oatmeal (it’s important to use these, rather than medium or fine oatmeal)
1½ tablespoons yeast extract
400 ml veg stock (plus more water if needed)
30 g sunflower seeds, chopped
Neeps and tatties:
20g plant-based butter or margarine (divided)
100ml plant-based milk (unsweetened)
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the butter in a pan. Add the onion and carrot and cook for 5-6 minutes.
Add the finely diced mushroom and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Add the lentils, the pepper and the nutmeg and stir through for a couple of minutes. It’s important not to skimp on the nutmeg or the pepper – it might look like a lot (especially the nutmeg, which is usually used in pinches!) but have faith that the final dish won’t taste too nutmeggy!
Preheat the oven to 180°C (170°C fan; gas mark 4).
Add the oatmeal, yeast extract and veg stock. Cook for 15 minutes on a low heat, stirring regularly to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. The mix will become quite thick, but add a splash more water if you need to.
After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and stir through the chopped sunflower seeds.
Spoon the mix into a greased loaf tin, and bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes.
Neeps and tatties:
As soon as the haggis is in the oven, boil the kettle and peel your turnips and potatoes.
Chop them into approx. inch cubes (keeping the turnip and potato separate!) and boil (again, separately) for around 10-15 minutes, or until a sharp knife slides into them without resistance. Drain.
On a low heat, add 10g of plant-based butter or marge to each of the two pans you just used to boil the veg.
Once melted, add the drained vegetables and mash until smooth. Add salt and pepper to both, and approximately 100ml of plant-based milk to the potatoes, bit by bit. You can also add something else to flavour the mash if you want – my go-tos are Henderson’s relish, wholegrain mustard or a mature cheddar style vegan cheese.
When the haggis has browned on the top, remove from the oven and stand for 5 minutes. Serve on top of the neeps and tatties, with something green on the side (I used cavalo nero, which I roasted on a baking sheet, with salt and olive oil, for 10 minutes).
The haggis recipe is originally from The Pesky Vegan – a great resource for vegan cooking and baking.