ploughman’s lunch (no ploughing required)

"ploughmans' rest" public domain

“ploughmans’ rest” public domain

One of my family’s favorite meals is what we refer to as a “ploughman’s lunch.” Traditionally, a ploughman’s lunch is what the ploughman’s wife would tie up in a kerchief for him to eat on his midday break; a crust of bread, a hunk of cheese, an apple and a flagon of beer. I like to picture the farmer dozing in the warm sun, his sleepy oxen standing nearby, as he takes a few moments of well-earned rest after eating his humble meal.

The Carons’ interpretation of a “ploughman’s lunch” has a decided Mediterranean flair, a Greek ploughman’s lunch, if you will. We eat it for dinner, and we’re not leaning on hay bales.  But it always includes our favorite simple foods, like deviled eggs, hummus, olives, pickles, grapes, a good cheese and fresh crusty bread dipped in olive oil.  (Probably some kind of meat in there for the guys, else it’s too much like chick food.)

Hummus probably wouldn’t find it’s way into a traditional ploughman’s lunch, but it is the centerpiece of the Caron table.  This version is creamy with a bit of texture, and has cumin instead of garlic.  It is great with carrots, celery, or pita bread.

You might not feel you need a recipe for deviled eggs, but this one (adapted from The Joy of Cooking), is absolutely perfect. I hope you enjoy a ploughman’s lunch for dinner sometime soon (no ploughing required.)

6 ingredient hummus
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • 100 milliliters olive oil
  • 100 milliliters tahini
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • juice of a lemon (or 2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice)
  1. Pour olive oil into a glass measuring cup to the 100 mil line.
  2. Add tahini to the 200 mil line.
  3. Pour into food processor or blender.
  4. Add garbanzo beans, cumin, salt and lemon juice, plus a dash of cayenne if desired.
  5. Blend until very smooth.
  6. To serve: sprinkle with paprika and serve with carrots, celery, pita slices or gluten-free chips.

deviled eggs
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 2 Tbsp organic mayonnaise (available at Trader Joe's)
  • 1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • dash of hot sauce
  1. Boil water in a pot deep enough to cover the eggs in a single layer.
  2. Add a Tbsp or so of vinegar to the boiling water (helps to seal the shells.)
  3. Gently lower eggs into boiling water.
  4. Boil for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and plunge into cold water.
  6. Peel eggs under running water.
  7. Slice eggs in half.
  8. Remove yolks to a large bowl.
  9. Add mayo, mustard, vinegar, pepper and hot sauce and mash until creamy.
  10. Spoon the filling into the egg white halves.
  11. Sprinkle with paprika.

Does your family have a version of the “ploughman’s lunch”?  What do you include on your table? Please share in the comments!

About the Author

Kathleen Caron

I'm good at finding stuff, and I love to share all my discoveries. I write about the intersection between faith, family, fellowship and food.

  • Janelle

    Two things. First, I love the word flagon. Second, what do people mean when they say “a good cheese?”

    • Kathleen Caron

      I know, I mean a ploughman wouldn’t drink a Diet Coke, would he? A good cheese, hmmm…basically, it would not come in a jar and it would need to be refrigerated. Other than that, a good cheese is one that tastes good. (I hope “a good cheese” didn’t sound snobby.)

  • Christa Sterken

    i love this, and appreciate you including artwork! I like hummus but dont like to smell like garlic all day. I’ll try it for sure. I have lots of friends who eat hummus all the time and think it doesnt have a smell. It does :)

    • Christa Sterken

      Kathleen, I love to make deviled eggs but no matter how I try and boil them, the shells always stick and tear apart the eggs. Any suggestions?

      • Kathleen Caron

        That’s why I always go back to the Joy of Cooking recipe: Bring the water to a rolling boil, then add the eggs and cook for 15 minutes, and afterwards, plunge them in cold water. The cold water bath makes a big difference, I dunno why, but it really works. I made some again this morning and the shells just peeled right off. Also, add vinegar to the cooking water, it seals the shells. Let me know if it works for you, I care!

        • Christa Sterken

          ok I will try that, thank you friend. I miss you

          • Kathleen Caron

            Miss you too Christa!

    • Kathleen Caron

      That’s why I came up with a non-garlic recipe. Cumin is a strong spice but it just doesn’t “reek” like garlic. Have some and ask your husband to kiss you ;-)

      • Christa Sterken

        Well, if I must ;)

      • Christa Sterken

        Can you tell me what ”
        100 milliliters olive oil equals out to?

        • Kathleen Caron

          It’s almost 1/2 a cup. The reason I do it like that, is that it’s easy to measure the liquids into a clear Pyrex measuring cup and the olive oil helps the tahini just slide right out. But if you want to use measuring cups, do a “scant” 1/2 cup.

  • Shelley DuPont

    The first time I ever had a plowman’s lunch was when we lived in England. We loved stopping into a pub and getting a nice plate of sliced ham, a good cheese, a homemade roll, and a side of relish. Good memories.

    • Kathleen Caron

      It sounds so charming Shelley. The Caron ploughman’s lunch has strayed pretty far afield from a “real” ploughman’s lunch. Someday I hope to enjoy the authentic thing, in an English pub, sitting by a fire on a rainy day.

      • Shelley DuPont

        Since it rains a great deal in England, you could choose just about any day. Be sure you have some cream tea and a scone with Devonshire cream, too!

  • La McCoy

    Love it .

  • kathunsworth

    Hey Sunshine! We don’t eat a ploughman’s lunch but we love hummus on anything. i have never tried to make it but this recipe looks divine. Nice to see you xxx