Don’t feel like cooking? Put together a traditional Ploughman's lunch - A classic dish featuring some of the best British ingredients.
There are a handful of meals I can think of that are so delicious and yet so astonishing simple. Ploughman’s lunch is definitely one of those.
This humble traditional British meal has been around for centuries.
Traditionally, it was a very simple meal ploughmen would bring with them to the fields in the English countryside. A simple, hearty packed lunch consisting of a thick slice of crusty bread, a chunk of local cheese and onion (for extra flavour).
**This post is sponsored by Pork Farms. All opinions are my own**
It was not until the 1950s, as part of a Cheese Bureau marketing campaign to get Britons to eat more cheese, that it started to gain some popularity as an easy pub meal, and it's still going strong.
Since then, local pubs have quickly started to modernize it by putting their own twist on it, turning a not-so-posh dish into the ultimate foodie board to share, for the delight of both locals and tourists alike.
For days when you don’t feel like cooking, Ploughman's lunch works wonderfully well, providing an astonishing array of flavour combinations. It's the perfect lunch (or dinner) for two, but it works marvellously as a happy hour board, and pairs super well with beer or ale.
Let's start by saying that there aren't strict rules on how to put together your perfect Ploughman's lunch.
Try sticking to British local, seasonal, and artisanal-made products, and you won't be disappointed.
Here's a list of items that I personally feel should always make an appearance, but just use this little ingredient guide as a way to gather some inspiration and build up your very own version.
A couple of two hard and semi-hard cheeses are enough. I used traditional Leicester and English cheddar. Extra mature cheddar, Stilton, Shropshire Blue are also great options if you're after bolder flavours.
- Shropshire Blue
These are a few classic options that will spice up your board and enhance the flavour of the cheese. I picked a ginger chutney and old-plain English mustard for mine, but just use whatever you like. You can experiment with new chutneys and jams, or just add some high-quality homemade salted butter.
- Fruit chutney
- Fig jam
- Pickle relish
- English mustard
- Salted butter
FRUIT & VEG
A nice combination of fruit and vegetables brings a refreshing note and brings in some extra good-for-you nutrients. Keep it seasonal and simple, I used green apples, little gem lettuce, tomatoes and grapes, but there are lots of other options that would make your PL shine:
- Lettuce leaves
I couldn’t resist adding in an extra super classic British food. I'm talking about pork pies of course. My top pick is Pork Farms, the UK #1 pork pie maker since 1940 - the iconic British brand has been following the same pie crust recipe ever since.
Hearty, tasty and crusty pork pies make a great snack or lunch-on-the-go options, and all Pork Farms pies are made with 100% succulent British pork, as proudly showcased in their newly designed packaging.
They're conveniently available in different sizes, from the large individual pie to the party pack of 6 mini pies. I love using the mini pies in my PL board, but a big one cut into slices works well too.
I decided to skip the bread in favour of extra veg & fruit (and pork pies!), but sourdough, French rustic baguette, Italian ciabatta are my favourite picks. Regardless of what you choose, keep it artisan-made, rustic and crusty.
I personally feel that a pickled element should be included, whether it's gherkins or cornichons or pickled onions. But you can definitely leave them out of the equation if you are not a huge fan.
A couple of extra ingredients that are not strictly necessary, but can bring more flavour and provide a nice protein-kick:
- Baked ham
- Hard-boiled eggs
Ploughman’s Lunch is a simple no-cook meal, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be choosy about our ingredients.
The quality of the food you pick will ultimately affect the final result, so it's worth giving it some thought.
Whenever you get the chance, source the cheese from a local cheesemonger, have fun making your own sourdough bread, or try making your own English pickles and experiment with homemade fruit chutney. It makes the whole experience more fun, and delicious!
How to store
Since this recipe has eggs and cheese, avoid letting these ingredients sit at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Transfer leftovers in separate air-tight containers and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
More Traditional British Recipes:
Did You Make This Recipe?
Please let me know how you liked it! Leave a comment and/or a rating below, and share a picture and tag @thepetitecook on Instagram! Reading your feedback and looking at your pictures always makes me smile *and super hungry*!
Perfect Ploughman's Lunch
- 80 g mature English cheddar
- 70 g Leicester cheese
- 3-4 Pork Farms mini pork pies, or one large individual pork pie cut into slices
- 6 little gem lettuce
- 4 pickled onions/gherkin/cornichon
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
- 2 slices ham
- Handful of grapes, about 70-80 g
- 6-10 cherry tomatoes
- ½ Granny Smith apple, sliced
- 2 tablespoon fruit chutney or piccalilli
- 2 tablespoon English mustard
- Half hour before serving, take the cheese out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature.
- Place the pickles, and condiments into small serving bowls.
- Arrange the remaining ingredients nicely on a wood board or large platter and serve immediately.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
One of the things that I have recently discovered which I find makes a nice addition to the pickled element is baby bell peppers stuffed with cream cheese. Very different and just a lovely combination of flavours and textures.