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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