The Art of Scottish Cooking – Yet Another Tutorial From Hell

When I get an idea in my head, I am not easily deterred.  Like The Time I Decided I Wanted To Host Burns Night.  Except, a number of us are vegetarians (myself included), and what is Burns Night without a haggis?

Enter the vegetarian haggis.

Yes, I know that this is like going to a restaurant and asking for tempeh sweetbreads.  But you must understand, once I commit to an idea, there is no turning back.  For example, the Time That The Women of Winesday Found Themselves Climbing Mt Whitney.  But that’s neither here nor there.

Vegetarian haggis it was.

I found some ridiculous recipes, before finally settling on a relatively simple-looking one.

Chop vegetables?  Okay.


Cook veggies until soft.   Easy enough.  Unless you are me, and you decide to “rustic chop” after you’ve given the carrots a reasonable chop, by which I mean, you get aggressive and chop the carrots to hell.

(The vitamins and prescriptions are optional, of course.  Use only if you feel you need to fortify your cooking).

Here’s where things get weird: the recipe calls for ground peanuts.  Not peanut butter.  Not chopped nuts.  Ground.  What’s a gal to do?  Why, go directly to the Cabinet of Forgotten Wedding Gifts, that’s what!  I could’ve dusted off the food processor; probably could’ve even dug out the meat grinder attachment for the Kitchen Aid.

I settled for THIS gem:

Andrew may have gotten the hornspoons.  Let him eat all the caviar he wants up on Carnegie Hill.  Look what we’ve got here — an old-timey mortar and pestle.  Why do people register for this stuff when they marry?  And why do people give it to kids in their twenties, one of whom will probably only even discover she is in possession of such kitchenware once she is divorced, and into her thirties and making vegetarian haggis in the middle of the night?

I digress.

Grind the peanuts until roughly ground, but not peanut butter.

Next, add the rest of the ingredients:

This isn’t a paid spot, but I really love this broth, and adore the single-serving sizes.

Again, not a paid product placement, but these are the lentils I use for everything.  The original recipe called for red lentils.  If you cook with lentils a lot, you know there’s a big difference in the cooking time and consistency between red and green.

Kidney beans, lemon, and soy.  Wait, what?  Peanuts and soy?  Are we making Scottish food or satay sauce here?

Simmer for about 20 minutes.  The original recipe called for 10, but these are different lentils, so the simmer time will be longer.  The recipe also calls for a variety of spices: rosemary, thyme, cayenne, and something called “mixed spice,” which is British for what is essentially cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.  Since this is Chinese New Year, I used Chinese Five Spice instead, to a result that I liked.

Add oatmeal.  You can use steel cut if you want.  I didn’t.  This, of course, yielded a horrorshow catfood-looking result.  But haggis isn’t supposed to be pretty, is it?

Simmer for about another 20 minutes or so.  You’ll see that this photo above was from the end of the simmer.  You may need to add more water or broth to ensure the oats get a fair cook.

At the conclusion of cooking, crack an egg into the pot and stir the egg into the mixture.   (You can skip this step if you’re going for a vegan haggis, but at that point, why are you bothering?)  Once you’ve mixed the egg in well, transfer the mixture to a baking pan.  I chose a parchment-lined loaf pan.  But I imagine a broth-soaked cheesecloth in a loaf pan would mimic a sheep’s gut fairly well.

Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes.  Serve.  (I’m serving mine heated later at the Burns supper.)

Voila.  Vegetarian haggis.  That, gentle readers, is what happens when I get hit by a car on my way home from picking up my race number for Scotland Day, then I take some train out of Edinburgh a few weeks later, then I finish out last year and ring in this one in place named for a ship named for a place in Scotland — I wind up making vegetarian haggis in the middle of the night, listening to Auld Lang Syne, wondering what all of this unfinished Scottish business is, and whether Chinese five spice belongs at a Burns supper.

Vegetarian Haggis (adapted from


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 5 fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup dry green lentils
  • 2 tablespoons canned kidney beans – drained, rinsed, and mashed (I didn’t mash them)
  • 5 tablespoons ground peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five spice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/3 cups oats (steel cut or other)


  1. Sautee vegetables in a saucepan over medium heat until soft. Stir in broth, lentils, kidney beans, peanuts, soy sauce, and lemon juice and spices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 10-20 minutes. Stir in oats, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking pan (or line with parchment).
  3. Stir the egg into the saucepan. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan. Bake 30 minutes, until firm.

1 Comment

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  1. Mortars and Pestles. I have two actually. Because my mother told me I should register for one because she would be giving my grandmother’s set to my brother. And then after all was said and done and the tags had been removed and the gift receipt long discarded, the inheiritable set appeared. I have yet to touch either.

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