VEGETARIAN HAGGIS By Helen Westwater: La Ola Fresca

Chances are that at Christmas you joyfully belt out the chorus of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ at New Year’s Eve celebrations and never have had a clue about the rest of the lyrics or the origins of the song. So getting ready for the festive season, the pen behind this famous song was the great baird (poet) of Scotland, Robbie Burns. A song used in most English speaking countries across the world to bid farewell to the old year and welcome in the new. If you read the lyrics (which I now have for the first time in my life!), it is a beautiful poem invoking the memory of long-standing friendship. The first part of the poem was based on an earlier work by James Watson and the rest of the poem completed by Robert Burns and set to an older folk melody in 1786. After Robert Burns died in 1796 his friends, who ‘lest their acquaintance be forgot’, began an annual Burns supper to celebrate his life.

A Burns supper is usually held on or around his birth date, January 25th and involves bagpipes, more than a ‘wee dram’ of whisky and an address to the ‘haggis’, a meaty mix of entrails, windpipes, oatmeal and spices. To give you an idea here is part of the address:

“Trenching your gushing entrails bricht,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sicht,
Warm-reekin, rich”

I love the idea of Burns night, but despite my half-Scottish blood, with blood and entrails, I’m sorry but, ‘I can’nae go there’! So if you, like me, would like to celebrate the tradition at the risk of being ex-communicated by the remaining Scots in my family, here is a softy Southerner vegetarian version in which I have tried to recreate the texture, sweetness and stickiness without the blood and gore! It is nonetheless warm and rich and will combine well with your neeps (swede) and tatties (potatoes).

200g split lentils soaked and cooked (brown ones will give a more earthy and meat-coloured effect)
100g quinoa cooked / or more traditionally pearl barley
1 sweet potato, cooked, roasted or boiled and skinned (you could also use roasted pumpkin)
1 large carrot diced finely
1 onion diced finely
1 heaped teaspoon marmite
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 k mushrooms
2-3 tablespoons of ground porridge oats or about 2 tablespoons of oatmeal
1 dram of Whiskey (a wee bit)
200ml water
2 teaspoons Agave syrup
2 tsps freshly crushed black pepper
1 scant teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 scant teaspoon garam masala

Cook the split lentils and quinoa according to the instructions. Meanwhile with a little olive oil cook the mushrooms with the thyme over a gentle heat. Place a lid on the top so that they do not lose moisture. We want them to be juicy.

Dice the carrot and onion very finely and gently sauté this time in a large saucepan. When they have softened, add the rest of the herbs. Stir well, cook a little, then add the hot water mixed with the marmite. Cook until the water has almost evaporated. Add the soya sauce, the agave syrup, the sweet potato, the mushrooms and their liquid and again reduce. Add the black pepper and mixed in the cooked lentils and quinoa. The quinoa I think gives it that enticing entrail look!

Chop or ground the oats and add to the mix. Add the whiskey.

Stir and cook for a little longer. By now the mixture should be a little bit sticky so that you can form it into round balls. If it is not sticky add more oatmeal.

Christmas and January events in La Ola Fresca
Please check our website
and where this month you can also find our recipe ‘Nuts for nuts’ (Christmas caramelized spicy nuts). Come along to our vegan Rober Burns night on Wednesday 25 January! Here’s to a happy ‘Hogmanay’ and 2017 and “lest auld acquaintances be forgot” have a wee dram for me!

La Ola Fresca
C/Musico Magenti, 11
Tel: 610 026 305 (For reservations)
Zona Benimaclet

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