A festive and easy meat-free dinner

Posted on: 1st December, 2014

Category: A Flavour of West Cork

Contributor: Karen Austin

Lettercollum Kitchen Project, 22 Connolly Street, Clonakilty. karen@lettercollum.ie. www.lettercollum.ie. www.lettercollumkitchenproject.com.

To write this month’s recipe I had to put my thinking cap on. I knew it was going to be something with kale as we have such an abundance of it but the recipe needed to be a little bit festive so I had a little trawl through my old books and found an old favourite. It’s funny how perfectly good recipes disappear from our minds.

Vegetarians usually have two options when it comes to Christmas dinner. One being to create the vegetarian feast of your dreams, and the other – which is often the easiest option, is to cook something that will sit with all the vegetables and trimmings that the big bird eaters are enjoying.

I’m not sure which way we will go this year – our household is usually 50/50 vegetarians and big bird eaters – this recipe could be the solution if we want to go the traditional route. Truth be told, it is quite probable, as we’re usually quite cooked out after the busy days in the shop leading up to the festivities and this is an easy option.

The lentil loaf can be prepared the day before and reheated or cooked on the day of eating.

It does need a little sauce on the side. Roasted cherry tomatoes are a very easy solution. Just put cherry tomatoes and few sprigs of thyme in a roasting tray, toss in a little olive oil and season with salt. Roast for 25 minutes. The heat of the oven will make the tomatoes burst, the juices will run with olive oil and you’ll have an instant sauce.

Festive Lentil Loaf

300g puy lentils
2 -3 onions
25g butter
250g mushrooms – mixed if possible
250g grated cheddar
2 eggs
3tbs cream
large handful chopped parsley
100g dry breadcrumbs
1 tsp salt
half tsp ground cloves
half tsp ground black pepper



Pre heat the oven 180c

Line a 2lb loaf tin with parchment or greaseproof paper

Cook the lentils in plenty of water for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and tip into a large mixing bowl. Peel the onion, removing the hairy root end and leaving the top tip on. This gives something to grasp whilst grating them. Grate the onions on the coarse side of the grater and add to the bowl. Chop the mushrooms quite finely. Melt the butter in a frying pan and cook the mushrooms on a high heat until they soften. Season with salt and pepper and add to the bowl.

Add the ground cloves, chopped parsley, grated cheese, breadcrumbs and salt and pepper. Lightly beat the eggs and mix with the cream, tip into the bowl and mix everything together.

Put the mix into the prepared tin and push down firmly.

Bake for 60 – 90 minutes – until the loaf is firm and an inserted knife comes out cleanly. Leave the loaf to rest for at least 15 minutes before turning out of the tin.  Slice to serve.

Any leftover loaf is great served as a terrine the next day, also ideal for the Stephens day picnic if you are going for a walk.


Stir Fried Kale

A big bundle of kale equals 4 or 5 big leaves per serving
1 clove garlic- peeled and chopped
half tsp fennel seeds
half tsp crushed chilli
a little olive oil


Wash the kale and strip it from the stems. Discard the stems, roll the leaves up in a bundle and chop them into fine ribbons.

Heat a large frying pan, add enough oil to just coat the bottom, then the chilli, fennel seeds and garlic. Give a quick couple of stirs then dump in the chopped kale. Toss everything together and keep cooking over a high heat. Stir frequently. When the kale has softened and wilted down season with a little salt and serve.

Put the kale on the plate, a slice of lentil loaf on top and some cherry tomatoes around



If you’re wondering what to give someone for Xmas we have gift vouchers, cooking class vouchers, hampers and The Lettercollum Cookbook available in the shop. Please pop in and see us. Enjoy the festivities



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Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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