(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Though most dads probably don't still plow fields to feed their families as they did centuries ago, interesting takes on the traditional "ploughman's lunch" are an innovative, economical and memorable way to celebrate a modern Father's Day.
Still a staple in England, the popular meal - usually served as an open-faced sandwich - began as a hearty, bare-bones basic sandwich to satisfy hungry men who had spent their energy on plowing and other farm and field chores.
The staples were buttered bread, cheese and raw onion accompanied by a mug of cider.
Later, the meal evolved into a platter of more delicious treats, such as thick meats, greens, cucumbers, pickled onions, and Branston pickle, which is a relish still used throughout England on the sandwich. It's named for the town of Branston, a few miles southeast of London where it originated, and can include mixtures such as carrots, cauliflower, rutabaga, zucchini, apples, sweet gherkins, onions, garlic, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, mustard seeds, allspice, cayenne pepper, and malt vinegar (which, in the day, sat in sealed sterile jars for three weeks or more before use).
Gourmet markets and online sources sell imported commercial varieties of Branston pickle that would make a tasty surprise touch to a Father's Day ploughman's lunch platter.
Some chefs have added their own slight twists, like the Food Network's Barefoot Contessa
star, Ina Garten. She adds thick slices of baked Virginia ham and hard-boiled eggs, and makes the easy substitution of jarred chutney for Branston pickle.
A more traditional platter might contain cheddar cheese (English, if possible), thick slices of white bread, sweet gherkin pickles, lettuce leaves, cucumber slices, and onion slices (preferably pickled onions).
If you'd like to emulate Branston pickle, mix chopped dates, raw carrots, raw cauliflower, apples, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. After the simple Father's Day meal fix, all that will be left to do is toast dad with a mug of cider like the ploughmen of days past.
Meals like these prove innovative food preparation can be easy, nutritious, economical, entertaining - and fast. They take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare.
The combinations are delicious evidence that everyone has time for tasty home cooking and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it! Another benefit: You - and your kidlet helpers - effortlessly become better cooks, since there are no right or wrong amounts.
These are virtually-can't-go-wrong ideas, so whatever you choose to use can't help but draw "wows."QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Many dads do the grilling during warm weather - even when celebrating Father's Day. If you want to turn the tables, though, consider grilling dad his breakfast (with any participating kids under supervision, of course). Breakfast burgers are fun. Make mini burgers out of ground turkey mixed with ground Italian sausage and Italian seasoning blend, grill (until an internal temperature reaches USDA recommended 165 F), and serve on grilled English muffins. Spread with bottled chili sauce or ketchup, and top with a fried egg (also prepared on the grill).
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.