Friday is Burns night, a celebration of all things Scottish and first proper foodie celebration of the new-year for many. By all means serve your haggis in the traditional way with neeps and tatties (mashed swede and potato for the uninitiated) but make sure that you shop generously and have some leftovers to play with. Warm haggis served with soft floury tortilla wraps and creamy tzatziki is an unexpected match made in heaven!
Wonderful Scottish food champion and cookbook author Sue Lawrence talked about this idea on Great Food Live last year and it was one of those combinations that made perfect intuitive sense. Haggis spice blends are closely guarded secrets but the spices at the core are also staples of Greek cookery (pepper, cloves and nutmeg), making haggis a natural match for tzatziki. I couldn’t bear to wait until January to try this out and hitting the shops to buy a haggis (veggie in this case) in mid-November I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to find one. This version of Sue’s dish is made with vegetarian haggis and a winter tzatziki, a fancy way of saying that it is tzatziki made with dried mint, thus neatly avoiding the need to buy air-freighted herbs from the supermarket.
Is Haggis good for you/and or sustainable? It probably doesn’t matter much if you only intend to eat it once a year, but then that would be a shame because haggis is really very good and deserves to be eaten a bit more often. Both the meat and vegetarian varieties are choc full of cholesterol lowering oatmeal and to my tastebuds anyway, both have the same wonderful nubbly texture and peppery spices. Vegetarian haggis would probably win in a serious debate; none of the ecological burden of meat production and no suet (a highly saturated animal fat). In fact vegetarian haggis is bursting out its skin with good stuff; beans, lentils, nuts, vegetables and oatmeal, and is usually held together with vegetable margarine as the replacement for the suet. Eaters of the traditional meaty haggis can be a bit smug too, in the knowledge that haggis is the epitome of whole animal eating, arguably the most ethical approach to being a carnivore.
More haggis finds
- Can’t get haggis round your way (or maybe it is banned where you are)? Check out fab Melbourne blogger Johanna’s recipe for vegetarian haggis
- In serendipitous timing, The Times real food web site has an article from the aforementioned Sue Lawrence on Bonny fare for Burns Night, including a recipe for haggis lasagne
- MacSween of Edinburgh is the most famous purveyor of haggis and has an information packed web site with plenty of background and information (there are other brand of haggis)
- To see if your country has its own version of haggis, check out the surprisingly long similar dishes list on wikipedia.
Recipe for Haggis wraps with winter tzatziki
Serves four as a light lunch
Make the tzatziki about an hour in advance for the flavours to develop. I have used vegetarian haggis but this will work equally well with meat if you prefer.
1 vegetarian haggis, about 450g
4 soft flour tortilla
Mixed salad leaves
For the tzatziki
Half a cucumber
Half a shallot, finely chopped
5 heaped Tbsp thick plain yogurt (ideally greek)
1 heaped tsp dried mint, crumbled
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
A small pinch of salt
Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and run a teaspoon down the middle to remove the seeds. Grate the cucumber and squeeze it out with your hands to get rid of any excess liquid.
Mix the cucumber with the remaining tzatziki ingredients and set aside for an hour.
Cook the haggis according to packet instructions or reheat safely if using leftovers. Remove the haggis from its outer skin and break up any large chunks.
Warm the tortilla.
Spread each tortilla thickly with tzatziki. Spoon over about a quarter of the haggis onto each one and top with a few salad leaves.
Roll up the tortilla and cut each one in half. Serve while still warm.