Hi, my loves and welcome to WiccaNow! I’ve been covering Imbolc recently, and have talked about the history and meaning behind this magical fire festival, as well as sharing my favourite Imbolc Ritual and some tips and tricks for your Imbolc Altar setup as well as the various symbols associated with Imbolc. I’ve also written posts on another of the spring Sabbats, namely Ostara, and included some Ostara recipes and an Ostara ritual. Today I want to continue in this vein and share some of my favourite Imbolc recipes with you.
Imbolc is a time to celebrate the end of winter and the coming of spring. It’s a time when the first ewes are lambing and is a celebration of the coming bounty of the warmer seasons. As such, many of the recipes which are traditional to Imbolc contain dairy. If you are vegan, you could substitute dairy with its appropriate vegan counterpart. Milk for soy milk, cheese for vegan cheese etc.
Because of the time of year, and the relative scarcity of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, many Imbolc recipes contain ingredients that could have been stored over the winter. Dried fruit is common and so it pumpkin and potato. Apple would also be a good option because generally, they are a fruit that can be stored well over longer periods of time
Imbolc Recipes for a Festive Feast
Below are a collection of dishes that I think would make a wonderful addition to any festive Imbolc feast. Keep in mind that this would make enough food for 6-8 people depending on how hungry you are. If there are less of you, select just a couple of dishes or ½ the recipes.
Imbolc Recipe #1 Baked Feta
- 1x block Sheep (goat is fine too) milk Feta, drained.
- 5x cherry tomato
- 2x sprigs of oregano
- ½ small brown onion
- 1x clove of garlic
- Aluminium foil
- A splash of olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 200degrees celsius
- Crush the garlic clove and finely slice the onion
- Take 2 sheets of aluminium foil. They should be large enough to wrap the block of feta in. Place the block of feta onto the 2 sheets of foil.
- Halve the cherry tomatoes and remove the hard middle sections.
- Top the feta with the crushed garlic, onion, and cherry tomatoes. Rip the sprigs of oregano (with stems is fine) and place on top of the other ingredients. Top all this with a generous splash of olive oil. Season to your taste. Keep in mind that feta is usually pretty salty so you may not need to add extra salt. Freshly ground pepper is a delicious addition though!
- Firmly wrap the feta in the foil. While you could use just 1 layer of foil, I’ve had mine split open due to the weight of the feta before which was very irritating as you lose all your delicious ingredients!
- Bake the feta for approx. 15 minutes.
- Serve warm and with crusty bread as a delicious entree.
Imbolc Recipe #2 Feta, Ricotta and Spinach Lasagne
This is a delicious recipe for a super tasty vegetarian lasagne. Recipe by Sarah Tuck via Dish Magazine
- 400 grams baby spinach, washed
- 400 grams ricotta
- 100 grams feta, crumbled
- finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- ⅓ cup finely chopped parsley
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 40g butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 2¼ cups milk
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1¼ cups grated Parmesan
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 pack of dried Lasagne Sheets. You may not need the whole packet but better to be on the safe side than to run out! You can also use fresh pasta sheets if you prefer.
- Steam the spinach until wilted but still vibrant green. Squeeze out any excess water and cool. Chop roughly and place in a bowl. Stir through the ricotta, feta, lemon zest, garlic, parsley and nutmeg.
- Béchamel: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, whisk to a paste and add half the milk, continuing to whisk. Add the remaining milk and the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Continue to whisk over the heat until the sauce is thick and smooth. Stir through 1 cup of the Parmesan and add the bay leaves. Cool for half an hour and remove the bay leaves.
- Preheat oven to 180°C.
- To assemble: Smooth 2 tablespoons of béchamel over the base of the baking dish. Line with pasta sheets. Spread half the spinach mixture over to form an even layer. Top with ¾ cup of béchamel and smooth out. Repeat with a second layer, finishing with a third layer of lasagne sheets. Top with the remaining béchamel and Parmesan and bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and the edges are crispy. Rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Tip: You can make bechamel in the microwave too if you prefer! For a quick microwave method for making bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a large microwave-proof jug. Add flour, whisk to a paste and add half the milk. Microwave 2 minutes on high, whisk and add remaining milk, salt and pepper and nutmeg. Microwave in minute bursts, whisking in between until thick and smooth. Stir through 1 cup of the Parmesan and bay leaves. Cool for half an hour and remove the bay leaves.
Imbolc Recipe #3 Greek Salad with Sheep’s Cheese
- A block of sheep’s milk feta
- 4 ripe tomatoes
- 1 medium cucumber
- 1 red capsicum
- 1 small red onion
- Good quality kalamata olives
- 1tsp Honey
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
- 1-2 tsp white wine vinegar. I like my dressings on the sour side so I tend to use more vinegar but start out with less and add more to taste.
- Wash all your vegetables.
- Finely slice your red onion. Onion is a dividing flavour. If you feel like a whole onion is too much, feel free to use less!
- Cut the tomatoes, cucumber and capsicum into bite-sized chunks, I like mine quite chunky but do whatever size you prefer here. Add to a bowl with the onion.
- De-stone the olives, cut into 1/4s and add to the bowl.
- Make the dressing by adding the honey, mustard and oil into a small bowl. Whisk with a fork until emulsified and creamy. Emulsifying these ingredients before adding the vinegar means that the oil won’t separate out and you end up with a well-mixed dressing. Add the vinegar and mix.
- Mix the dressing into the chopped vegetables.
- Crumble the feta on top and give a light mix. You don’t want to overmix the feta otherwise it completely disintegrates into the salad.
- Serve as a side dish with some bread to mop up the leftover feta filled dressing.
Imbolc Recipe #4 Iceberg Wedge Salad with Yoghurt Dressing
This is a delicious, crunchy and refreshing salad which is great to offset the heaviness of the lasagne. The lemon gives it a great zing and the herbs give it a fragrant punch.
- 1 cup natural, unsweetened yoghurt
- Juice of at least 1 lemon
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp mustard
- 1 Iceberg lettuce
- 1-2 cups mixed herbs roughly chopped. I love fresh herbs so I use 2 cups here. This is a lot however so use 1 cup if you aren’t a herb lover. I like to use mint and flat-leafed parsley
- Cut your iceberg lettuce into 8 wedges and lay out onto a large plate.
- Make your dressing by adding the yoghurt, honey and mustard to a small bowl. Whisk until thoroughly combined. This may take a couple of minutes as the honey hardens when added to the cold yoghurt. Check the flavour and mix in lemon juice until you have a delicious dressing that suits your taste for sourness. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Pour your yoghurt dressing over the iceberg wedges. I line up the wedges and then pour the dressing over in a slow side to side motion so you end up with a tight zigzag of dressing over all the wedges of lettuce.
- Sprinkle all your herbs over the top and serve one wedge as one portion.
Imbolc Recipe #5 Pumpkin Creme Caramel
I’ve started making this whenever I have friends over! It may seem like an odd dessert, but trust me, it’s so delicious! It’s not overly sweet and has just a hint of bitterness from the caramel. You can make it a day ahead and store it in the fridge till you need it. This dessert will actually taste better the next day as this gives the caramel time to completely dissolve into a sauce.
This recipe is adapted from The Matcha Green.
- 350g steamed Hokkaido pumpkin. Butternut pumpkin would also be a delicious substitute.
- 4 eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 130g sugar
- 200ml milk
- 250ml cream
- 1tsp rum
- 1/2 cinnamon
For the caramel
- 100g sugar
- 20ml water
- Brush melted butter on the sides of a flan dish or a shallow 23cm cake pan. You could also use cooking spray here provided it is flavourless.
- Chop the pumpkin into pieces and steam until very tender. If you don’t have a steamer, you could boil the pumpkin too although you may lose a little flavour.
- Prepare the caramel. Combine the sugar and water in a small pan. When making caramel, always make sure that no sugar crystals are hiding on the side of the pan. This can cause the sugar to crystallize. Use a wet pastry brush to catch any stray grains before you start heating. On a medium temperature, heat the sugar and water until it starts to brown. When it starts to brown, gently shake the pan to achieve an even colour. If you notice the caramel start to crystallize, add a tiny bit of lemon juice as this stabilizes the process and prevents crystals forming. Pour the caramel into the prepared cake tin and spread it evenly by tilting the pan. Caramel is extremely hot so make sure not to touch it. I always take a risk and bring my caramel to a very dark brown. This imparts a slight bitterness to the sugar which offsets the sweetness and pairs extremely well with the creamy pumpkin.
- Prepare the steamed pumpkin. I left the skin on mine but depending on what kind of blender you have you might not want to do this. Add the pumpkin to a blender with the milk, cinnamon, rum and sugar. If you don’t have a blender you can use a puree stick or food processor. If you don’t have either of these, make sure you remove the skin and then mash extremely well with a fork instead.
- Blend on low speed until completely smooth. If you are leaving the skin on, then this may take a little while. The low speed here is to prevent the mixture from being aerated.
- Add the eggs and cream to the blender and mix until just combined. Again, we don’t want air being incorporated here otherwise you’ll end up with a less than smooth end product.
- Pass the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any pieces of pumpkin that may not have blended properly.
- Pour the mixture on top of the caramel in the cake pan.
- Here you can do 1 of 2 things: Method 1: Steam the pudding at a VERY low temperature until the middle is just set. Start a timer at 20 minutes and then check every 10 minutes after that. Here you have to use your bakers’ instincts because the steam you’ll be using can’t be measured. I tend to make mine in small individual pots and they take about 25 minutes to steam. A single large dessert as described here will take longer. I do have my stove set at the lowest possible temperate as the lower the heat the smoother the texture will be. Method 2: Heat the oven to 160degrees celsius. Put the cake pan in another baking dish and add water to ½ way up the sides of the cake (make a bain-marie). Cover with foil and bake for 60-90 minutes.
- Check doneness of both methods by inserting a metal cake skewer into the middle of the pudding and seeing if it comes out clean.
- Cool the pudding down for a minimum of 2 hours or ever night in the fridge.
- When ready to serve, invert the pan onto a plate with a slight edge and watch the magic happen as the caramel pools out!
These 5 recipes are what I might serve as a festive dinner in the evening on Imbolc. I know it seems like a lot of cheese and dairy but I like to keep with the original spirit of the Sabbat (plus I love sheep’s cheese so I’ll never complain if I have a reason to eat more of it).
Imbolc Recipes for Delicious Drinks
There are a myriad of options for those wanting to make a special Imbolc drink. Everyone has very different tastes when it comes to what they like to drink. I had the starkest experience of this just the other day. I went to a cocktail bar with a couple of friends and we all ordered different things on the menu so we could try each other cocktails.
While there was a one drink everyone agreed they loved, a Rhubarb and gin-based cocktail that hit all the right sweet and tart notes, opinions were extremely divided on every other cocktail we tried. One friend stuck to only drinking a yellow watermelon concoction which while delicious, I found much too sweet. Another friend tended to the savoury side of things, picking a range of drinks from Pinecone infused vodka to a Sake and Japanese Shiso based cocktail. While I appreciated the savoury side of things in a drink, my favourite was a Beetroot cocktail which was savoury, sweet, tart and punchy all at the same time. A bonus was the freshly picked beet on the side, absolutely delicious!
What I’m trying to say here is that most people really, really, don’t like the same things to drink. Food isn’t nearly as dividing so my suggestions here are going to cover a few bases to make sure that there is something to suit everyone’s tastes!
Imbolc Recipe #6 Mulled Wine
This is a great option because it pays tribute to the Goddess Brigid. If you have a fireplace, you can set a pot on top of the stove and cook the mulled wine over the fire. I did this once while skiing at it gave an extra special feeling to the wine. Be careful it doesn’t boil though, let the wine get too hot and you’ll burn off all the alcohol! Maybe not a bad thing to be honest… This recipe is by Jamie Oliver.
- 2 clementines
- 1 lemon
- 1 lime
- 200 g caster sugar
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- 1 whole nutmeg, for grating
- 1 vanilla pod
- 2 bottles Chianti or other Italian red wine
- 2 star anise
- Peel large sections of peel from the clementines, lemon and lime using a speed-peeler.
- Put the sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice.
- Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Halve the vanilla pod lengthways and add to the pan, then stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar.
- Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine, then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you’ve got a beautiful thick syrup. The reason I’m doing this first is to create a wonderful flavour base by really getting the sugar and spices to infuse and blend well with the wine. It’s important to make a syrup base first because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with both bottles of wine in there you’ll burn off the alcohol.
- When your syrup is ready, turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and the rest of the wine. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes, when it’s warm and delicious, ladle it into heatproof glasses and serve.
Imbolc Recipe #7 Decadent Hot Chocolate
I love to make spiced hot chocolates in the winter. This is a great drink which incorporates dairy and heat (a representation of fire) and tastes delicious. This is for one serving. If you want to make more, just times the recipe by the number of people you’re making it for. Add a little chilli if you like a kick as chilli represents the sun so it’s a lovely Imbolc tribute.
- 200mL milk
- Large pinch of ground cinnamon. If making a large batch, you could pre-infuse the milk you plan on using with a cinnamon stick overnight.
- Large pinch of Cardamom
- A small piece of Vanilla Bean (if you don’t have this, just use vanilla essence. Vanilla bean makes this a real treat though). Same applies to the vanilla as the cinnamon, infuse overnight if you want to!
- Tiny pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp cocoa
- 50g dark chocolate
- Sugar to taste. I don’t like my hot chocolate very sweet, so I tend to add very little sugar. Maybe only a teaspoon. Try with less first and try a little before you add more! Honey also makes a delicious substitute
- Toppings such a whipped cream or marshmallows.
- A small shot of whiskey if you’re in the mood
- A small pinch of chilli if you like a kick to your hot chocolate
- Add your milk to a pan.
- Add all other ingredients, apart from the whiskey if you’re using it, to the milk.
- Heat over a very low flame. You don’t want the milk to boil.
- Whisk continuously to integrate everything and to stop the milk forming a skin. Make sure the chocolate isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
- When the milk is just below boiling, take it off the heat and add the whiskey (if you’re using it that is).
- Pour into a mug, top with whipped cream or marshmallows and a pinch of cinnamon.
Imbolc Recipe #8 Chilli Margarita
This is a great drink for Imbolc. The zinginess of the lime reminds me of spring and the heat of the chilli invokes feelings of fire and represents the sun. Both appropriate things for this festival! This recipe is for one serving. Multiply the amounts in order to make a larger batch. Recipe created by Cake-n-Knife.
- 4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
- Lime wedge
Chilli Infused Tequila
- 1 1/2 cups silver tequila
- 3 serrano chile peppers, sliced in half lengthwise
- 2 fresno chile peppers, sliced in half lengthwise
- 45mL chilli infused tequila
- Juice from 1/2 lime
- 30mL Cointreau
- 3/4mL agave
- Combine tequila and peppers in an airtight container. Allow the tequila to infuse for at least 5 to 8 hours (or more if you want it HOT).
- When ready to make the margarita, stir together ingredients for chilli salt in a small bowl. Rub a margarita or cocktail glass with the lime wedge, then rim with chilli salt.
- In a shaker filled with ice, combine chilli-infused tequila, lime juice, triple sec and agave. Shake vigorously.
- Fill rimmed glass with ice. Strain margarita into the glass and serve.
Imbolc Recipe #9 White Russian
This is another of the Imbolc recipes which champions dairy. You could also say that it represents spring. Spring is a time when everything starts waking up from its winter hibernation, the coffee in this cocktail will wake you up too! I like to add extra coffee to my white russians to give them a bit more of a kick and to offset the sweetness of the kahlua. This recipe makes one drink.
- 45mL vodka
- 45mL kahlua
- 20mL strong, chilled coffee
- 60mL Cream
- Add ice to your tumbler.
- Add vodka, kahlua and coffee to the tumbler.
- Carefully add the milk and then the cream to the tumbler. I like to use a bar spoon so that you can see the coffee mix on the bottom layer and the cream and milk on top. If you just want to mix everything together you can do this too.
So, my fellow kitchen witches, I hope this gives you some Imbolc recipes that you enjoy to add to your inventory! Stir in love, bake in kindness, whisk up inspiration and shake spring into life.
Until next time,